on Oct. 26, 2019
Deception … (2019) by Aaron D Hawkins is a brilliant short read.
The story follows protagonist Geloni who is a final year high school student in Tennessee. He is out as being gay in school and is being bullied by homophobic jock Shawn and his equally homophobic friends/gang. Shawn’s fellow jock Des is secretly gay and secretly likes Geloni. Meanwhile an alien Issideron is indent on going on a killing spree. It takes over Shawn and goes about murder and making destruction. Add into this a Native American woman Tsistunagiska who is sent to take Issideron down. When she arrives, she is given a new temporary name Lynn Jackson and the government and police going around in circles trying to stop Issideron harming anyone else.
I loved this book. The author’s writing style is fantastic, original and very natural. I loved the way Hawkins brought many important themes into the book like bullying, mental health and prejudice. These topics are spoken about sensitively and with excellent honesty. Hawkins really highlights these issues without apologies and I love that. The characters all add something to the story. I actually have five favourite characters from this story. Geloni and Des are super cute together and really made for each other. You really get to know their stories and are rooting for them against the obstacles they face as a new couple. I love them both. I love Tsistunagiska too. She is so strong and brave. She doesn’t run away from her duty to bring Issideron down. She’s fantastic. I love Tre, Geloni’s best friend, and Brenda, Geloni’s mother. They are both super supportive of Geloni and of his and Des’ relationship. Their fab!
This is a very well-put together book which easily held my attention throughout. It is a great Halloween read with characters you care about, characters you can’t stand and great, original storytelling. It was a page-tuner with good humour in it too. The book is actually free on Smashwords and I highly recommend you check it out.
Great read and great writing!
on Nov. 16, 2019
Ricky (2019) by E.E. O’Brien is a fantastic short read.
This read is told through the eyes of Nate who is looking after his friend Ricky who is addicted to drugs. This story is short but so much is packed in. It is full of emotion and gritty truth. The author really helps the reader get to know the characters in so few words which is not easy. It’s very original, creative and not a word is wasted. Every single word adds to the overall plot.
The author deals with the important topic of drug addiction in both an honest and sensitive way. We get to see the effects it can have on both the person who is addicted and those close to them. The flow of the story is very well put together and it is easy to get engrossed in the story and want to know how it will end.
A really great and strong read.
The Marquess of Gorsewall Manor
on Dec. 01, 2019
The Marquess of Gorsewall Manor (2018) by Adella J. Harris is the first book in the After the Swan’s Nest series by the author.
The story follows Thomas Brook who is been sent to the pillory after been caught in a molly house raid where he was getting intimate with his friend William. In the era this book was set, it was illegal for two men to be intimate. But thankfully Thomas excapes, goes on the run and eventually ends up at Gorsewall Manor which is the home of Lord Elmsby who Thomas fancies instantly and vice versa. He begins working in the library of the house and gradually he and Lord Elmsby get to know each other and their romance begins to bloom. But among all this, the body of Lord Elmsby’s fiancée from years back is found out on the moors which leads to Thomas investigating her death in order to prove Lord Elmsby’s innocence.
This is a wonderfully engrossing read which combines romance, mystery and historical fiction all into one. I think it is great for awareness that the author wrote about the cruelty and injustice many people faced back years ago due to hatred over their sexual and romantic feelings. Those scenes were incredibly hard to read. But I think it is right that the author showed these situations in an honest way, showing how ugly the actions of many people back then were. I was so glad that Thomas escaped but I felt awful for William who without been in the book very much was a character I liked because he seemed like this ordiniary bloke but who had a steel and a hero way about him when push came to shove. So it was great to see that book 2 in this series is William’s story with his Earl.
The book has wonderful characters. Thomas and Julian (that’s the Lord’s name) have great chemistry, there is a great build-up in their romance with a definite will-they-won’t-they plot where you are on the edge of your seat hoping they will. Harris beautifully shows how much they care about each other through Thomas putting himself in danger of being caught to clear Julian of the murder and Julian deciding that it is best for his name to continue to be rumoured about in connection to the murder rather than put Thomas in danger. It’s dead cute. While Thomas is struggling to survive, he sells himself and it is so lovely to see that Julian doesn’t judge him badly on his previous work.
This book is stunningly wrote, very detailed and paced wonderfully. It has a great mix of genres which are combined very well. The book speaks about important issues and the entire book is very well-written. On the first book, this bodes very well for this series.
on Dec. 01, 2019
His Request (2013) by Ava March is a short read which is a sequel to the author’s novel The Client.
The book follows the story of the relationship between Jasper Reed and Nathaniel Travers. They are living in the English countryside but there is nothing boring or retiring about their life together. This book is both erotic and romantic. They play a game in this outing of ‘the physician and his patient’ and it is all very hot. In the non-sexual parts, their dialogue together shows how in love they are. It’s a perfect combination. I like both Jasper and Nate but my favourite was Jasper whose POV the story is told from. We get to know Jasper and how he thinks a lot and he’s lovely and super interesting.
As the story continues, Nate asks Jasper to visit with a friend of his who he used to be romantically interested in. Jasper says he doesn’t want to go first but eventually agrees so they go to visit with the man and his wife. Jasper’s inner thinking during the visit makes us all go on this journey with him.
There is three genres combined here. Historical, romance and erotica. And the author does a stunning job of combining these genres. I think March did a great job of showing how in love the two central characters are which is difficult to present in such a short write. The only flaw I have is that I think we could have got to know the characters a bit more but I suppose in a short read, that is hard to do.
A fantastic read.
Shoals O' Herring
on Aug. 26, 2020
Shoals O’ Herring (2016) by Colin Garrow is a wonderful short read. This author also has many other short reads available.
The plot follows main character Stevie who loves everything about the ocean and sea life. Because of his interest, he begins working on a fishing trawler but soon he finds that life out at sea is not as glamorous or adventurous as he thought it would be.
I liked the story. It was very much a coming of age story about a young person finding their way in the world, figuring out what way to go and finding out that not everything is what it seems. My only flaw with this short piece is that due to the length, it was difficult to get to know the characters well but that is hard in short writes. I think the author does a good job though of getting a lot of information in there about Stevie’s background. It just maybe needs a little bit more. But for the most part, a really great slice of life story written very well. The descriptive elements also help add to the atmosphere throughout.
In Line for Murder
on Aug. 29, 2020
In Line For Murder (2015) by Colin Garrow is another great short read by the author.
The plot is set in Edinburgh in the 1890s. Inspector Angus Robertson is on the case. Sir Charles Foggarty has set him a case involving the missing dead body of a woman called Mara who Foggarty was cheating on his wife with. She was in a long list of women but that’s a whole other story.
I really liked this story. It is a classic short detective story and has intrigue and suspense throughout. The pacing in the build up is wonderfully done and there is a great twist. It is a bit longer than the previous short read I read by this author and has a mixture of Sherlockian and Ian Rankin vibes to it. And the latter is not simply because it’s set in Scotland! But at the same time, the writer’s own style comes through more. It is a very enjoyable story that is perfect for reading with a cup of coffee.
The Very Grave Digger
on Aug. 30, 2020
The Very Grave Digger (2016) by Colin Garrow is a great short read.
The plot of this short story is about Bobby who meets up with old friend Sandra and is unsure what her motivation in wanting to meet up is. But he agrees to see her nonetheless.
There is a lot of intrigue and tension throughout the story which is hard to create in a shorter write but it is perfectly paced here. The characters are interesting and you never know who to trust throughout which adds to the intrigue. There is a lot packed into this short story with trust being a huge theme. Who can be trusted and exercising caution and that kind of thing. Very thought-provoking in that aspect and very well-written.
The Silk Woman
on Sep. 02, 2020
The Silk Woman (2015) by Colin Garrow is a very good short read.
This story is about a man called Davey who meets a woman called Liisek who is a silkie on the way home from the pub. They meet under unusual circumstances as she is naked along with six other women and soon romance blossoms between the pair. But soon Davey is left with an unenviable choice about whether to put Liisek’s happiness and wellbeing before his own.
I liked the story. It was very imaginative and there was great humour in it. Because it was so short, I think it was hard to connect to the characters so while I hoped they would get together I wasn’t overly concerned if they did or not because I didn’t feel like I really knew them. But there was many things I liked about the story. The dialogue flowed with ease. There was great respect for women shown by Davey which Liisek appreciated and showed at the end that she did. I liked that Davey was a virgin because not heaps of main characters in romances are and when they are, they aren’t written as realistically as Davey.
I also loved learning what a silkie was too. That was interesting.
A wonderful read.
Monologues From, A Homosexual Hazard: An Episodic Play
on Sep. 03, 2020
Monologues From A Homosexual Hazard (2020) by Edwin Betancourt is an excellent play.
Set in New York, the play follows the stories of six gay men Marco, Saint, Jayson, Harley, Frankie and Johnny who each speak about various aspects of what it is like to be a gay man in society nowadays. Inspired by The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler, the play lets us really get to know each of these men very well in a short amount of time. There is a lot packed in here with topics ranging from feelings about love, insecurity about your body, mental health, domestic violence, suicide, toxic masculinity, dating and marriage, loving yourself as you are, discrimination, TV portrayals and life and death.
My favourite character is Saint but I adore all the characters. I love how opinionated and unapologetic they are. It’s a refreshing write, very modern and totally what I love to read. So much is highlighted here which certainly needs to be highlighted. There is a great mixture of emotional content and humour. It’s like how life is, like slices of life. Very realistic and written in an excellent down-to-earth conversational way that instantly pulls you in.
I think a lot of plays/books etc … struggle with where they are going when talking about discrimination because the writer or writers go for a one-dimensional feel of either humour and happiness or pain. The truth in life is that both aspects are there and this writer has done a fantastic of putting both those elements in. I also don’t feel that this play is pandering to the masses and trying to keep everyone happy. It’s just direct, honest and true to life and I love that. They are opinionated, they are unapologetic and that’s celebrated which it isn’t always and I think that is incredible. The characters are very realistic and I therefore relate to them. This is definitely an author whose other works I would be interested to read in the future. It’s excellent, I very much enjoyed it.
Voicemails from God
on Sep. 04, 2020
Voicemails From God (2019) by Elle L is a collection which includes three short stories.
The first story is called Almost Superman. An American soldier Robby returns from Afghanistan and comes out about not being straight. Everyone has since turned their back on him apart from his best friend Devan whose house he arrives out at very late in the night/morning when Devan has to get up for work in four hours. Robby is feeling suicidal and Devan must convince Robby that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I really liked the story and the characters. The story highlights important issues like mental illness and suicide. I love Robby’s and Devan’s friendship. I think everyone needs a friend like Devan who is there, patient, understanding and doesn’t judge. I also really like that though Robby may be gay, the story doesn’t actually say that he is. Rather it is that he came out about wanting to love a man so Robby can represent gay men, bi men, pan men, omni men, basically any man who loves a man and is a soldier and I think that’s cool. The story touches on the ignorant/prejudiced notions some have that you can’t be a soldier and not be a straight man and the equally ignorant/prejudiced idea that you have to be straight to serve your country right. Very important issues included there too.
The second story is the title story of the collection Voicemails From God. In the story, we meet Alex and her grandmother Rose. They embark on their yearly birthday trip to Far Rockaway Beach for Rose’s birthday where they find a telephone on shore. Alex’s grandmother is great. I love the modern way she is and the way she has a zest for life. It’s nice to see an older character written like this and I hope I have her zest for life, wisdom and energy if I reach her age.
The final story is Bite. Tracy and her younger sister Mia are left in a difficult position after witnessing their mother chewing through their father’s stomach. Locked now in a hotel room, the pair must decide to let their mother in or not and how to react if she tries to kill them. It is thought-provoking and the pacing is done perfectly throughout. It leaves you with a lot to think about for sure!
I really liked the collection. With mental health being so close to my heart, my favourite story was Almost Superman but I liked all three stories. Something I found very impressive here was that the three ideas for these stories would be extremely difficult to fit into a short story and the writer does it seemingly effortlessly. You don’t feel like anything is left out or are left wanting more but are satisfied that everything is answered in so few words. That is a skill and a half to have. To be able to say so much with so few words is definitely something I have never been able to do and I would be very interested to read more of this author’s work in the future.
The Perfect Gift - A Gay Romance Holiday Short Story
on Sep. 06, 2020
The Perfect Gift (2019) by Este Holland is a wonderful short Christmas romance read.
The plot follows the two MCs Charley and Ezra who are work colleagues in an office and have secretly have been in love with each other for ages. But after Charley leaves a special gift in Ezra’s office, Ezra asks if he can spend time with Charley to get to know him better in order to get him the perfect gift in return. Can love finally blossom between the pair?
I really liked the story. The two characters are great. Their backstories are really well fleshed out and ensure that as readers we understand where both of them are coming from. They are very different from each other but they have great respect for each other which was lovely. Their chemistry is gorgeous and the secondary characters are wonderful too. Each of them really add to the plot as well as the MCs.
The ending is predictable but it’s meant to be so I didn’t mind that. I certainly didn’t want it to be any other ending for sure! My only flaw is that I thought it could have been made clear that the chapters were swapping between both Charley’s and Ezra’s POVs. It was clear when you read the chapters but maybe putting their names above it could have made it better. It’s a small thing so I’m not going to take anything away from the book because of it but it was something I thought could have improved it.
Very cute and sweet read. Straight to the point and beautifully romantic.
A Tale for Halloween
on Sep. 07, 2020
A Tale for Halloween (2016) by Colin Garrow is a great short read.
The plot is about two children Sarah and Simon who go to a Halloween party but at the party their friend Peter goes missing so they decide to look for him in the woods.
There is great suspense built up in so few words and the pacing of the suspense is done well throughout. Great storytelling, very classic Halloween-like, and a perfect read to enjoy while having a coffee, tea or whatever. A lot packed in and the scenes were very well-described too.
on Sep. 11, 2020
Define (2017) by Vera West is a great collection of micro-poetry.
Structured in the style of a dictionary, West writes short poems in alphabetical order and covers the vast majority of the spectrum of emotions in the course of the book. The poetry is really great and I love the creativity and freshness to how this book is all put together. It’s a very clever idea.
I also love how it’s kind of saying we all define words and what they mean in our own way. That’s how it came across to me in any case, I’m not sure if that was the poet’s intention or not but if it was I thought that was cool. The imagery is brilliant too. Very vividly painted poems in so few words. Brevity is definitely not a strong point of mine so I was very impressed with that. An author who I will read more from in the future for sure but this was a really great and inventive introduction to her work.
A great read.
Bed, Death and Breakfast
on Sep. 11, 2020
Bed, Death And Breakfast (2019) by Colin Garrow is a great short read.
The story is about a young couple Angela and Ed who go to stay in a hotel but soon Angela is unnerved by the head of the hotel Mr Hossenfeffor. Mystery surrounds Mr Hossenfeffor’s wife and his fascination with blood.
I found it a great read, great atmosphere painted throughout and you are never really sure where the story is going so there was great suspense too. I don’t want to give much away but I thought that the premise for the story was really good and original. An original twist on a classic tale. The story kept my attention from beginning to end and it is really well-written.
Poems About Us
on Sep. 15, 2020
Poems About Us (2015) by N.E. Wilson is a great poetry collection.
N.E. Wilson is a pseudonym of Vera West and a previous book I read by her called Define was brilliant so I was looking forward to reading this book and it didn’t disappoint.
The book is a collection of ten poems which deal with numerous important issues like depression, racism and how so many aspects of life all combine together to cause pain and frustration. All the poems are amazing but two stand outs for me were Bite and Don’t. Both highlight racial inequality but very different aspects of it but you can see how the everyday racism in Don’t feeds the vicious racism in Bite but how both are as dangerous as each other because they feed off each other.
It is a deeply thought-provoking collection. Gorgeously put together. Very conversational, down-to-earth slices of life and everything is described brilliantly throughout.
I loved it. It’s a must-read.