Friday, August 18, 2017


Throat SprocketsThroat Sprockets by Tim Lucas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

”I wondered if I hadn’t been so deeply affected by Throat Sprockets because it had given this unfinished something deep within me, after all these years, the teeth it needed to access a body-temperature flow of nourishment.”

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A tasty well defined neck.

Our unnamed narrator frequently escapes to the sticky floored darkness of his favorite pornographic theater to relax and eat his lunch. His trenchcoated companions are barely a distraction in the periphery of his vision. If we are trying to place him on the scale of perversity, he ranks a bit above average, but certainly not in the red zone. He is a garden variety, breast man.

Until he sees Throat Sprockets .

”The director had a thing for women’s throats.”

His wife, Paige, starts noticing some changes in his behavior. He has always liked to give her shoulder massages, which always culminated with him groping her breasts. She can count on the fact that he is a breast man, and she has the breasts to keep him happy, but then he starts giving her massages that end with a special fixation on her neck. Her breasts, ready to be offered as a reward,...are...ignored.

Puzzling, but not alarming.

He continues to watch the film at every opportunity. His behavior becomes even more strange, more emotional. ”Men cry, but we tend to be moved to tears quietly, as quietly as we masturbate. Men are raised to purge themselves in strictest secrecy…”

He knows this need is not natural. He is developing an unnatural appetite. It scares him and invigorates him. He begins listening to different music. ”It was all about throat music. He couldn’t have cared less about the content of the music, he was after the substance of it, the texture, the sex of it, the husky vibrato. He was burrowing, digging, chewing into sounds, completely unconcerned with melody, ignoring everything but the simple conceit that these sounds coming in moans and coos and wanton wails and soaring arias were an erotic discharge pouring into his ears from women’s throats.”

If Paige’s breasts had grown to the size of cantaloupes and had sprouted wings, he wouldn’t have cared less, nor would he have been moved to desire if she had grabbed his head and stuck his face in her cleavage . His eyes would have been locked on the pulse in her throat.

The marriage ends when she has to defend the silky contours of her neck with a kitchen knife keeping his brandished teeth away from her cervicibus. His admiration for women’s throats has grown into a full on erotic obsession.

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Just a nibble please!

He works as an advertising writer, and soon he starts to realize that all of his ideas are centered around his interest in the concepts expressed in Throat Sprockets. He starts to realize that his desires are not as unnatural as he thought. The term sprocketing is becoming a known term, and whole groups of young people are becoming chokers, offering their necks and their blood to those who have found a desire that exceeds their sexual lusts. It is on the verge of an epidemic.

His descent into madness continues to spiral downward; each spiral is tighter and moving faster. He seeks the well spring of the film. The director proves elusive, but he does find some people involved with the film. He pays exorbitant amounts of money for anything connected with the film that will give him a better understanding. The question is, can he save himself before…”I hear the sound of a garroted camera as my blood runs out of film.”

This isn’t a vampire book. It is actually a fascinating journey of erotic obsession. I happen to find women’s necks very attractive, but I have no interest in the blood that pulses beneath the skin. Beauty for me is best left unmarred...well...maybe mussed a bit. For our narrator, it isn’t enough to gaze upon say the beauty of a dark round mole on a lovely female neck. He wants to consume it. He wants to possess it. I’ve learned over the years that those things that most of us might find unnatural or even disgusting are the very things that turn other people on. Any perversity that you can conceive is something that someone else has turned into an obsession. To say it is unnatural or unique may not be as true as I would like to believe. As Google releases more and more information about our true online interests, which actually are a more honest representative of our true desires than we would ever reveal in a survey, we might discover that our neighbors are more kinky than we had previously thought.

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Oh my what nice hardware you have my dear.

Tim Lucas explores the dark side of desire. He does so with evocative sentence structures and dangles all kinds of threads for the discerning reader to pull on to open up the truth about your own obsessions. The book left me wondering if I have even found my kink. If the narrator had never seen Throat Sprockets, he would have lived out his life being perfectly fine venerating breasts. Is there a song or a movie or book that will reveal a desire I had no idea I possessed? Am I living a lie while unknown desires are dormant in some dark corner of my mind? Read this book at your own risk, my friends and followers.

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The Rainbow Connection

B.J. Sheppard
Reviewed by Nancy
4 out of 5 stars


Living a care-free party life-style, junior journalist and gay lifestyle reporter, Liam Adams thought he had it all; the money, the job, the endless supply of men in his bed. But when his work causes him to question the very foundation of the life he has built for himself, Liam finds certain areas are glaringly lacking. All it takes is one assignment to unravel the very fabric of his promiscuous antics, compounded by the arrival of a long-forgotten tryst. With the rusty screech of the mailroom guy’s trolley wheels, Liam lands head-first in the arms of something bigger; something more.

As the romance burgeons between Liam and the Mail-Manny of his dreams, each article he writes proves to uncover something new and never realized about himself, namely that all the one-night-stands in the world could never give him what he truly wants; love. In a slapstick commentary through the eyes of the world’s most hypersensitive journalist, watch as Liam’s story unfolds in the most ridiculous of fashions, leading him straight into the arms of love, via The Rainbow Connection.

My Review

Oh, what a loathsome character Liam Adams is! It was so hard for me to care about him initially, that I was tempted to set aside the book more than once. But who am I to judge? It’s not as if I’ve never made bad decisions, or had contempt for some of my co-workers, or gotten stinking drunk at lunchtime. So I kept reading, and while I never fell in love with Liam, I grew to appreciate his thought process, his sense of humor, his witty sarcasm, his view of the world, and empathized with him that at 28 years old, he has never been in love.

Liam is an aspiring author and works as a journalist for an online gay magazine. He’s good at his job and thrives on deadlines. When he writes an article about the reasons women love to read gay romances, and puts his soul into his work, he begins to see what he’s missing and yearns for more than the casual one-night stands he’s accustomed to.

“I wrote it with hope and I wrote it with my newfound sense of belief that, man or woman, the words of these books were reaching out to people. That it was the journey that mattered. And it flowed out of me like a red wine hangover. Pressure be damned; it was inspiration. I hit send, and off it went, through the interweb to that special place where things go that I have no idea about, ready to be read by our entire readership. I hoped, as I pressed send, that the people who read it would have their own journeys.”

I loved Liam’s relationship with the mail clerk, Manny, that started with a sizzling fuck on Liam’s desk and progressed to dinner and conversation. I also loved his boss, Lourdes, a tiny sassy woman with a penchant for wine.

“On days like these I was glad we were of the same ilk. Any other boss would have canned me on the spot, but not Lourdes. She liked a drink as much as the next hobo and I was completely convinced she sprinkled Prozac on her cornflakes in the morning.”

Liam writes various articles of interest to the gay community and before long, his hilarious and unorthodox methods of research lead to problems in his newfound relationship. At the same time, I enjoyed the solid friendship between Liam and Lourdes and the significant growth in Liam’s character as he and Manny overcome communication barriers and start becoming honest with each other. Once Liam starts to think with his heart, he becomes a much better person, and one I gradually started to like.

Life is never simple, though. With Liam’s boss in rehab, a nasty new boss makes his life very difficult. Even though there is a love interest and hot sex, this is not a typical romance. Each character is unique and well developed, with strengths and flaws. Don’t look for the traditional happy ending, for you won’t find it here. No one is fortunate enough to have everything work out for them, and I’m really glad the author chose to write an unpredictable and more realistic ending. I’m confident that Liam’s strength, capacity for love, humor, and good friends will help him get through life’s difficulties.

I’m very much looking forward to the next installment!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Broken Banners

Broken Banners (A Reaper of Stone, #2)Broken Banners by Mark Gelineau
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Aldis, a friend from Elinor's time in the academy, has gotten himself and the men he leads into trouble. Many of them lay dead in the field and others are locked in cages. Elinor cannot stand to see the King's soldiers and her brethren in such a state.

Broken Banners is similar to A Reaper of Stone as it centers around the greed of nobility and sees Elinor and her forces up against much stronger forces. Elinor is still determined to set things right even when it isn't easy.

While I enjoyed Broken Banners the novella format of the series is getting frustrating. This is the second story featuring Elinor and yet it hasn't even hit the 200 page mark. More questions have arisen yet a date for an answer isn't in sight. Even when it is, will the follow-up be another 70-80 page novella. It's hard to be patient for books as they come out slowly at times.

Broken Banners was a solid addition to the Echoes of Ascended series. I hope the next stories are either longer or come out much closer together. In the meantime I'll be waiting to see how Elinor's story continues.

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Monday, August 14, 2017

True Stories

True StoriesTrue Stories by Jon Scieszka
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Guys Read: True Stories has some women doing the reading too, and it's not nearly as macho as the title might lead you to believe. Furthermore, you can't describe your book as "100% amazing, 100% adventurous, 100% unbelievable" and put out this less than stellar collection of stories!

It's not terrible by any means, yet I had more hope for this than it delivered. I thought it was going to be all kinds of exciting, but only one or two of the stories lived up to the hype. The lead story about a early 19th century America ship's crew getting stranded in the Sahara was more harrowing than exciting. The somewhat tall tale of a bear attack was mostly just goofy. The endearing memoir-like remembrances of a Vietnamese girl trying to weasel her way into her pack of brothers' activities was totally out of place. As an audiobook, its performances varied in quality as well.

Now, it should be noted that this was produced for elementary school students and maaaybe high school kids, though I think they'd consider some of this stuff hokey....That's a word kids these days use right? Hokey? Anywho, the stories don't go into great detail, however, they are quick and mostly entertaining to a certain degree.

The producers make a BIG deal about these stories being non-fiction and thus real. Reality seems to be an important learning tool these days. I'd like to believe that comes from a place of integrity, where learning the facts is the pinnacle of importance. Unfortunately, it's more likely the publishing company is trying to push the "reality" angle, because of the ubiquitous role reality tv plays in the lives of American youth these days. "Cashing in" I believe is the phrase.

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Sunday, August 13, 2017

Atlas Obscura

Atlas Obscura: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Hidden WondersAtlas Obscura: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders by Joshua Foer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Atlas Obscura is a guide to the world's strangest places.

I've been a fan of road trips almost as long as I've been an obscure facts nerd. This book combines the two in a fashion. I first came across it in an issue of mental_floss and was lucky enough to score a copy for Christmas.

Atlas Obscura has a lot of information on bizarre places around the world crammed into it's 400+ pages, from a penis museum in Iceland to a graveyard in northern Iran with penis-shaped tombstones, to other strange places that have little or nothing to do with penises, like pyramids in the northern part of Sudan or a baobob tree in South Africa with a bar inside. And that's even before America gets any coverage.

The book is organized by region for convenience. The photos in the book are really well done and most entries have one. There are footnotes containing other nearby oddities, which would be a great help if someone was planning an Oddity Odyssey. Some of the articles are on the Atlas Obscura website but many are just for the book.

I could spend paragraph after paragraph rattling off interesting bits from the book but it's best experienced for yourself. This book makes me want to take a drive from the cryptozoology museum in Maine to the ruins of Fordlandia in the Amazon. Four out of five stars.

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Friday, August 11, 2017

Mr. Jaguar

K.A. Merikan
Reviewed by Nancy
3 out of 5 stars


Mike Miller’s life has gone to shit. The formerly popular high school quarterback now works at a gas station in the middle of nowhere. The last thing he needs is meeting the guy he used to bully at school and seeing him all sorts of polished up. James is now the proud owner of an amazing silver Jaguar and a self-made millionaire. It seems that the day couldn’t get any worse for Mike, but James ‘Lovelace’ Austin might just turn out to be his golden ticket out of the job he hates.

When James Austin meets Mike Miller, his high school crush and tormentor all in one, working at an old, dirty gas station, it feels as if the stars have finally aligned in his favor. He wants to finally get his revenge on the guy, but when Mike turns out to be gay, the whole afternoon takes a turn for the surreal. Instead of just humiliating Mike at his workplace, James decides to hire him for a weekend at a conference he’s attending. A hot guy by his side is the only accessory James needs to rub his success in the faces of his frenemies.

Only problem is, a gay Mike Miller might be too much of a blast from the past than James ever expected. If James wants his nerdy heart safe from the hunky jock, he needs to keep Mike at arms length. The task would be a lot easier if Mike wasn’t unashamedly hitting on James. Or is it just James’s money Mike is after?

My Review

James Austin owns a Jaguar and has a very successful career. Though he makes a lot of money and lives very comfortably, he has no love life.

Mike Miller works at a shabby gas station fixing other people’s cars, but doesn’t make enough to afford his own.

When James stops in for gas and a wash, he eventually recognizes Mike was football quarterback in high school, and the guy who pushed James in a cold shower while the entire team watched.

Underneath the anger and humiliation hides unresolved lust. James learns that Mike is deeply closeted and his bullying was just an inept attempt to get James to notice him. In spite of Mike's past behavior, James finds he is now very attracted to him.

Mike badly wants out of his job and sorry life, so he accepts James’ offer of $2,000 to accompany him at a weekend conference.

For the rest of the story, both characters thoroughly annoyed me. Though I was tempted to set the story aside for something else, I gradually found myself tolerating the men’s stupid jokes, sexual innuendos, and enjoying their developing feelings. It’s no longer as simple as James flaunting his wealth and Mike obsessing about sex.

One thing that did bother me, though, was the amount of work-shaming going on in this story. Mike may have been a loser in some ways, but it’s not because he has a dead-end, poorly paying job. I was tired of reading about his bitterness and wanted him to act like a professional. Let’s face it – the economy sucks and not everyone can work at a job that pays well and suits his or her abilities and education. There is no shame in washing cars or making sandwiches. So hold your head up and show some pride in your work. Professionals exist at all levels in every field. And remember, people, it’s just a job. We are so much more than our jobs.

The characters redeem themselves in the end and I got a few laughs, so this wasn’t a bad way to kill some time.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Best Left in the Shadows

Best Left in the Shadows (Best Left in the Shadows #1)Best Left in the Shadows by Mark Gelineau
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A rich girl from the right side of town was beaten and brutally murdered. Her body was found in the wrong part of town and it will surely draw attention.

Best Left in the Shadows was a miss for me largely because it's among my least favorite tropes. Forbidden love, wrong side of the tracks, and detective tale wrapped up into one is a hard sell for me, but I wanted to continue the Echoes of Ascended series so I read it anyway.

The story revolves around Alys and her former lover Dax. Alys is from the wrong side of the tracks, Lowside, she deals in secrets and is friends with questionable individuals. Dax is from a well to do family on the right side of the tracks, Highside, he's also a magistrate and the detective trying to find out who murdered the girl. I'm afraid if my eyes roll any harder they may stay that way.

If you love forbidden love, wrong side of the tracks, and or detective stories Best Left in the Shadows may be for you. If all those tropes make you cringe or yawn then it may be best to avoid this one.

2.5 out of 5 stars

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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The Unholy Consult (Aspect-Emperor, #4) By: R. Scott Bakker

The Unholy Consult (Aspect-Emperor, #4)The Unholy Consult by R. Scott Bakker
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I read this series a LONG time ago, and upon reading this final installment, I find myself somewhat torn.

First, being the world building freak that I am, Mr. Bakker's skill is on full display, you would be hard pressed to find more of a deep, expansive world and history than you do here. The frigging beginning of the book has a recap of the previous tale which is dang near long as some books I have read. That isn't the issue with me, You read best pack a lunch and have your big boy pants on because there is depth on depth on depth in Mr. Bakker's world.

The problem is...while the soaring expanse and pure holy crap grand scale of the world slaps you in the face, the story and the characters leave me feeling cold. I know that bleakness is part of the overall story but I feel that in all this world, the "heart" is cut out of it. It might be me, but when I was younger, the arrogance of this epic world building would appeal to me, but as I progress (I hope) in my pursuits of literary works, I want the story to move me, and in the end, it doesn't.

Is the series worth a read? Yes, the scope of this world is mind blowing, but just be prepared to come out cooler than you go in.

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Monday, August 7, 2017

A Long Wait For Nothing

Unusual Uses for Olive Oil (Portuguese Irregular Verbs, #4)Unusual Uses for Olive Oil by Alexander McCall Smith
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

After a near ten-year hiatus, the long-awaited (well, by me at any rate) fourth book in Alexander McCall Smith's comedic Portuguese Irregular Verbs series finally arrived!

I enjoyed the heck out of book number one. Then the following two became a little Candide-like or Monty Python-esque in their wackiness as our hero Professor Dr. Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld became embroiled in far flung adventures. This fourth book, Unusual Uses for Olive Oil is a return to the sedate wordsmithing of the first book, and perhaps I really didn't want what I'd been wishing for.

This book is boring. There's no too ways about it. It's lacking in a sense of fun. Oh yes, there's plenty of wordplay and that's all very well and good, but poking fun at Germans and how they take everything literally, as well as the pedantic nature of language professors only goes so far before it becomes tiresome.

I can and do recommend this for word-lovers and those looking for some light academic japery. If you like reading satire on the foibles of the learned, have at it! I got a chuckle or two between the covers of this one and you may, too!

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An Adventure in Satire

Gulliver's TravelsGulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

So much more than just a fantastical tale of a man journeying to mystical lands. This is thinly veiled satire...super thin.

A seafaring Englishman ends up in four fairytale worlds where people are small, gigantic, smarties in the maths, and where people are horses. By the second journey you'd think he'd be done with all this, but in the end he's done with humans and has trouble living amongst his own kind.

Written in the old style where listing off occurrences constituted an adventure and a perfectly well constructed story, Gulliver's Travels can be at times a tedious read. It's filled with a laundry list of actions ("I did this and then I did this"), and when you think some tension or conflict is a brewin' you get simple expedients flatly stated ("I was faced with an obstacle and so I overcame it by doing this.") After a time it all becomes trying and uninspiring, making the turning of pages ever more difficult.

However, if you've come to this book looking for condemnation of the human race's worst foibles, you've come to the right place. Swift dispatches venom towards the leeches of humanity. Lawyers, for instance, get blasted left, right and center. I'm one of those people that feels we're not much better, and sometimes not any better, than base animals, so I was okay with the author's bashing of my fellow man. Those who don't understand anything beyond "Humans! We're #1!" aren't going to like this.

Regardless of its faults, I'm glad I finally got around to reading the original, full-length version. In school I read an abridged and sanitized version, which left out all the mentions of genitalia and bodily functions. This is much better with all the pee and tits included!

PS: Check out my video review of Gulliver's Travels here:

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