Tag Archives: Book Reviews

10Nov/17

Wendy Stone

November 10, 2017


It gives us great pleasure to welcome Wendy Stone as the guest on Episode 137: Sucked in by That Passion!

This week Wendy Stone joins the show to discuss her work as a book reviewer and author promoter, and to unveil her writing as Francesca Donatella!

Follow Wendy and support her work:

Bio:

Wendy lives in rural Wisconsin with her husband and two cats. She spends most of her time immersed in the worlds that others have written and more recently has been writing new worlds of her own.

Currently working on three projects, two of which are collaborations under the pen name Francesca Donatella.

Her first love is books and has never met one she didn’t like.

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10Feb/17

Jerry Wheeler

February 10, 2017


It gives us great pleasure to announce Jerry Wheeler as the guest on episode 097: Going Down Editing Holes!

This week author Jerry Wheeler returns to talk about the re-opening of his review site Out in Print: Queer Book Reviews, the status of Queer literature in general, a bit about the life of the editor, and we have a good bit of fun.

Follow and support Jerry’s work:

Bio:

Jerry L. Wheeler is the editor of the Lambda Literary Award finalist Tented: Gay Erotic Tales from Under the Big Top (Lethe Press, 2010) as well as Riding the Rails: Locomotive Lust and Carnal Cabooses, The Dirty Diner: Gay Erotica on the Menu, and is the author of Strawberries and Other Erotic Fruits (Lethe Press, 2012), also a Lambda Literary Award finalist. He’s working on his first novel, The Dead Book.

He lives, works and writes in Denver CO, where he misspends time in fleeting encounters with men best described as trashy. Some on work release programs. Despite this, he heads a freelance editorial service, Write and Shine. Please feel free to contact him at his website, www.jerrywheeleronline.com.

Furry men with tats and shady backgrounds please step to the front of the line!

This Podcast Episode is
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November 4, 2016

It gives us great pleasure to announce Jerry Wheeler as the guest on episode 082: Work For It!

This week author Jerry Wheeler pulls into the depot to talk about erotica vs romance, his role as an editor, his own writing and being a Lambda finalist, and his audio narration career.

Follow and support Jerry’s work:

Bio:

Jerry L. Wheeler is the editor of the Lambda Literary Award finalist Tented: Gay Erotic Tales from Under the Big Top (Lethe Press, 2010) as well as Riding the Rails: Locomotive Lust and Carnal Cabooses, The Dirty Diner: Gay Erotica on the Menu, and is the author of Strawberries and Other Erotic Fruits (Lethe Press, 2012), also a Lambda Literary Award finalist. He’s working on his first novel, The Dead Book.

He lives, works and writes in Denver CO, where he misspends time in fleeting encounters with men best described as trashy. Some on work release programs. Despite this, he heads a freelance editorial service, Write and Shine. Please feel free to contact him at his website, www.jerrywheeleronline.com.

Furry men with tats and shady backgrounds please step to the front of the line!

This Podcast Episode is
AVAILABLE NOW!
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Or right here:

22Dec/16

Review of Strawberries and other Erotic Fruits, by Jerry. L. Wheeler

Recently, we had the fruity Jerry L. Wheeler on the show, revealing all. Find out more about Jerry and get links to his work on Episode 082: Work For It!

REVIEW

Well, this is a mixed bag, I must say. An anthology of fine short stories from an exceptional author, and worthy finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Best Gay Erotica. This is a juicy collection, not only for the sex, of which there is plenty. There are plenty of other strange delights to chomp into but beware. Some of these stories have bite, and will stay with you for a long time; tragedy, horror, the lure of sensual pleasure that can only lead to destruction. And then, a dash of comedy to lighten things up here and there. This book gets inside your head, mucks around in there and refuses to leave, like a hardcore version of Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected. This is thinking person’s gay erotica, where the writing is so good, you’re not waiting for the action to begin, yet when it does, it doesn’t get in the way.

There are too many to list individually, but my standouts are;

Strawberries – The first tale, deceptively hot, even as events become more sinister by the minute. This sets the tone for the whole book. Be wary. Things are not what they seem.

Snapshots – One of the most disturbing tales. What goes around, comes around. Revenge tastes sweet unless you have too much.

Love, Sex and Death on the Daily Commute – A lonely, mild-mannered man fantasises about the fellow traveller he sees every morning, until the opportunity comes to make his fantasy a reality. When it all goes horribly wrong, his choices open the door to a dark future.

Templeton’s In Love – Different in tone, more melancholy and bittersweet. A lonely man witnesses the swansong of a legend as his own past catches up with him.

It’s hard to pick favourites, to be honest. The writing was outstanding in all cases. I’ve recently fallen back in love with short stories. With so many “wham, bam, thank you, man” erotic collections available, this one is a literary and weird delight from start to finish.

15Jul/16

Chained In Darkness (Episodes 1-5) by Nicholas Bella

 

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Yes, I wish to woo the Dark Lord of gay erotica onto our show, but the following review is absolutely genuine. His website is nicholasbella.com and is definitely NSFW!

REVIEW

Nicholas Bella has written several series, and this is a standalone story told in five excoriating episodes.

They tell the story of Noel, captured by vampires after being betrayed by his best friend. The vamps rule over a kingdom of Dystopian bleakness, where the humans are an inferior species kept alive to do menial tasks and feed the vampire’s lust for blood.

Told in the first person, Noel describes in brutal detail the punishments bestowed upon him, and how his initial horror turns to hunger as he is turned into one of the fanged ones and becomes the favourite whipping boy of Theoden, one of the most sadistic Vampire Lords in the city. He is put through a series of challenges and punishments before he can earn the title of Theoden’s child and the privileges that Theoden’s other children already enjoy.  “Children” is just another way of saying “fuck slaves.” The punishments include descriptions of piercings (guiche, Prince Albert, apadravya) done with silver, which is like Kryptonite to vamps and stings like hell (squirming yet? I sure was…)

So you might have guessed by now that this is not a series for the faint of heart. Full strength erotica, chock full of BDSM, horror, punishment, and reams of bottom-clenching sex. I was actually reading some bits through my fingers, and I know that sounds dumb, but it’s true. Sometimes, only having one eye on the page is the only way to read the really gruelling bits.

And yet …. It’s strangely hot as well. Even when you think “hang on, I’ve just read a description of a guy being forced to drink piss from another guy’s arsehole.” The author stops short of making his MC indulge in Human Centipede-style Scooby snacks, but only just. Maybe that’s in next season’s episodes. I don’t know, but I feel strangely compelled to find out.

And so do a lot of other “Bellaholics,” Bella’s avid fans of all sexes, who are practically (ball) gagging for more and more. That takes a certain set of skills on the author’s part; not only punishing the reader with the literary equivalent of the Cruciatus Curse, but making them love it.

Needless to say, it isn’t all grim reading or grinding sex. It is the story of a man’s gradual submission and acceptance of his fate, very cleverly executed and well-balanced. Eventually, Noel discovers that as a Vampire, his virginal arse heals after every brutal gang-ravishing and bodily fluids taste like nectar. This might elicit eye-rolling from cynical readers (if they haven’t already thrown the book into a corner and are hunched on the sofa, keeping it in full view of their staring, bulging eyes) but it shouldn’t. Bella has created a dark world where anything is possible, and any punishment that could be meted out is done so with lavish gusto and salacious glee. He’s written a series where it’s okay to read uber-gritty, filthy, hardcore erotica and not feel grubby/cheap/perverted whilst doing it. He’s successful and rightly so. He plays his readers like a finely tuned instrument whilst simultaneously flogging them into submission with every relentless sexual encounter. Well played, Mr. Bella.

So, in one word – phew!

In several words – Recommended for anyone who would really like to see Edward Cullen’s pretty twinkly arse pounded. Again and again.

And again.

15Jul/16

Conjuring The Shroud by Tim O’Leary

ConjuringTheShroudTim O’Leary joined us in April this year. Listen to his interview here! Episode 055: Five Stars Are Better

REVIEW

A short (20 pages) and funny book about practising safe sex, aimed at LGBTQA teens. Featuring a story within a story, about Adrian and Jesse, friends who fancy each other but haven’t had the opportunity to even kiss, let alone make out or do any more. Then Adrian’s mother has to go away for the night, and the perfect opportunity presents itself.

The awkwardness of a first sexual encounter, between two friends and fellow gamers, is hilariously yet sensitively told via their avatars, fighting the One Eyed Snake (stay with it…) with sheathed swords (safer, but just as fun….) There’s a lot of frat boy humour, yet the language isn’t too crude, just boys being boys. It doesn’t seem patronising, or too simplistic, just a fun read (even if you’re not a gamer) with a serious message which it doesn’t try to ram down the reader’s throat.

Not everyone has liked the story within the story, but I did because it saved the excruciating embarrassment that some (most?) teens feel when launching into sex for the first time. I’d recommend this book to any LGBTQA teen with a sense of humour, especially if they have an elven fetish.

04Jul/16

Anywhere You Go by Keelan Ellis

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It was our pleasure to have Keelan on the show on a couple of occasions. Listen to her latest interview and find links to her work here.

REVIEW

The first book was a lot of fun, with the story of the two friendly, mischievous ghosts who haunt the B&B now belonging to Jess and Eli. It was an unusual concept, combining tragedy and serious issues around being gay in different periods of time, with a contemporary love story. If you enjoyed it, then this book will be a huge delight. Ellis is comfortable with her characters and knows them intimately.

Jess and Eli are adjusting to married life, having to deal with jealousy when Eli’s friend Travis turns up, having split with his boyfriend, and Jess’s proprietorial behaviour towards his former fiancee, Cassie.

Ellis also has fun with the naughty ghosts causing sexy mayhem in the room they reside in, as well as giving them a plot thread of their own which is touching, sexy and woven cleverly into the main story, as they take Travis under their wing in order to save his relationship.

She writes her characters with affection and a light touch. Jess and Eli’s early marital troubles are convincing, and she deftly deals with the open questions left by the first book. As for randy ghosts Clay and Silas, their time in Paris (whilst they were alive) is colourfully drawn and you can feel the love between them, even after a threesome that throws a shadow over their loving relationship.

This is less a ghost story than a story about love, loyalty and family, with ghosts added to lighten things up. I love Ellis’s writing because it is easy to get lost in the story. This is a book for those times when only a day under the duvet will do. It’s warm cuddle of a book, with just a hint of edge to keep the reader on their toes, by an assured story-teller. Can’t wait for the next one!

04Jul/16

Paulyanna – International Rent-boy by Paul Douglas Lovell

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This review was written in 2014, but I still stand by it. Find out more about Paul’s work at powerpuffgeezer.wordpress.com

REVIEW

try to avoid overused adjectives like poignant, heart-warming, life-affirming or compelling, but this book is all four. I have barely been able to put it down.

Put simply, it is the biography of a young gay man scraping a living on his back, finding punters on the streets of London in the 80’s and 90’s and partying hard in between. He is an alternative working class hero who makes no apology for his profession or his sexuality, who is painfully aware of his own vulnerability and foibles. This isn’t an erotic novel, but one that is an excruciatingly honest account of a life lived on a knife edge. Drugs, sex, AIDS and poverty are all recounted with a refreshingly perky style, punctuated by moving passages of great beauty.

At the same time as reading this, I have also been reading John Rechy’s City of Night, and whilst Paulyanna lacks the artistic tics of Rechy’s seminal novel, I would stick my neck out and say he gives the great man a run for his money. In fact, Lovell’s style is more engaging and readable, less intimidating. This is Rechy-lite, English style, and an important read for those who are gay and struggling with their identity or straight and curious.

For a self-published novel, this is one of the best I’ve read. Yes, the editing could have been crisper and some descriptive passages earlier on in the book could have been lost without detriment, but as a piece of social history, as well as a very personal story, it is one of the best I have read this year.

04Jul/16

Then The Stars Fall by Brandon Witt

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Brandon Witt was one of our guests in the early days of the podcast. Hear his interview and find links to his work here.

REVIEW

Beautiful cover. Beautiful book. I could just leave it there, but I want all my friends to read this stunning love story, based around one man’s family, his grief for his wife, and the unexpected love he finds, which causes rippled throughout the small American town where he lives.

Travis is still in mourning for his wife. Four years after her death, he looks after his three children with the help of his strong-willed sister and the unconditional love of his two adorable corgis.

Wesley hasn’t been home to El Dorado for many years, but now he is the town vet, trying to put a painful break-up behind him. When Travis brings in one of his dogs to his surgery, there is an instant attraction, but both men have too much emotional baggage to know what is truly happening. Besides, Travis is straight. Isn’t he?

This is an incredibly well-written, delicately balanced M/M book. There is romance, but the main focus is about family, and the dynamics within. We are allowed into the lives of the children, their thoughts and fears, and Travis’s sister is the sort of wonderfully warm, forthright woman that everyone should have in their life.

All the characters are brilliantly drawn. Travis is the loving father, aware of his short-comings yet seemingly unwilling to move on from his grief. Wesley is the flamboyant gay man who struggles between being happy in his own skin and being nervous about how others perceive him.

The children are adorable, but not in a “I want to puke” kind of way. Oldest son Caleb is the serious man-child, trying to hold the family together, and the twins are like chalk and cheese, tricksy and defiant, solemn and withdrawn. And the dogs are cute and a bit stupid, just like dogs are in real life. I didn’t want the story to end because I was so entranced by the people and the place. Witt has the ability to enmesh the reader into the world he has created.

It’s a pity I’m not still running a book group. If I was, then this elegant, literary book would be top of my list.

04Jul/16

Confessions Of A Gay Rugby Player by Patrick Darcy

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The first M/M erotic novel I picked up! This review was first posted in 2014. Find out more about Patrick Darcy’s work at wildecity.com

REVIEW

Here’s a tip. If you haven’t tried reading gay erotica before, you don’t know where to start, and you are of a delicate disposition when it comes to bodily fluids, my advice is not to make this book your first foray into the genre. If on the other hand, you don’t mind dirty, sweaty, grunty men going at it like the clappers, then this is for you.T

The really great surprise for me was how well it was written. Witty, and at times hilarious, the whole series (1-4) is hugely entertaining. Somewhere halfway along it becomes a romance, but if you prefer your gay men like Stanford Blatch from Sex And The City, you might be disappointed. This is a love story with added fisting. Darcy avoids the slushy stuff with a deft touch, leaving the reader eager to move onto the next book in the series (I’ve read all four so I know how it ends, but no spoilers here.)

The dialogue is sharp, crude and funny, and I’ve learned a whole new vocabulary (nut stubble, bossy bottom, butt slut, etc.) Despite the sometimes brutal sexual encounters, I just wanted to give Mr. Darcy a hug because he was so strangely endearing. If you like sex and you like rugby, whether you’re male or female, there is something for everyone to enjoy here!

04Jul/16

All That You Can’t Leave Behind by Kirby Quinlan

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This is the debut novel from Kirby Quinlan. To find out more about Kirby’s work, visit kirbyquinlan.com

REVIEW

From the moment Brayzen Mapleridge is belayed down from his private helicoptor to his first day of community service, I was hooked.

Briefly, Tailor Sway is the host of a TV programme that declutters peoples’ houses and (hopefully) changes their lives. He is struggling to cope with his husband, Grant, a veteran of the Iraq War who is suffering from PTSD. Brayzen Mapleridge is the ultra-famous pop star who is avoiding jail by doing hard labour in front of the cameras. A publicity stunt went wrong and he is paying the price. There is an instant attraction between him and Tailor, but of course, Tailor is married, and does not want to hurt his husband, even though he knows their marriage is on borrowed time.

So there is quite a lot in that paragraph alone for me to say, “hang on, how is this going to work?” But it does. In turn funny, if not downright hysterical, and moving, the serious subjects are dealt with deftly and with great sensitivity, whilst not compromising on the humour. THis book has to be read to be believed. Quinlan has thrown a lot at this but it works. Against the odds, it really does.

I loved Tailor’s humility, and the way he deals with Grant. I can’t say too much for fear of giving a spoiler, but I can tell you the ending is worth while.

Brayzen is created brilliantly as well. At first you think “what an asshole” but he grows on you. He really does. I wanted to give him a hug by the end and I’m not easily swayed by glamour, money and good looks. He has everything that could make him a really unsympathetic character. The fact that I was rooting for him is testiment to the skillful way he was drawn.

And Grant was a real surprise. I wasn’t expecting what happened in the end. Did he deserve it? Vote is still out on that one. Again, no spoilers.

I loved the unpredictability of this book. It wasn’t like any other I have read recently. And the sex is HOT. There’s a lot of it, and it scorches the page. I thought I would have a problem with some of the moral dilemmas, but no. This is massively entertaining and I would recommend it to anyone who doesn’t insist on romance following the same old tired tropes. Nice work for a debut novel!