Thursday, February 28, 2019

Seven Forges

Seven Forges (Seven Forges, #1)Seven Forges by James A. Moore
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Merros Dulver has embarked on an expedition that promises riches beyond his imagination should he return. He has led a group to the Seven Forges, a land believed to be uninhabitable, only to find a man there. This man wasn't simply lost near the forges, he was looking for Merros specifically. Merros meets with the man's people and heads for home with an escort of people from this desolate land. Merros isn't sure what to think of his escort except that they're incredibly dangerous individuals.

Seven Forges felt very much like a book that's only purpose is setting the groundwork for a series. The characters found themselves mostly involved in traveling and diplomacy. The people from the forges are incredibly devoted to their gods who were said to have saved them. Each of the forges is believed to be a different god and each of the people followed one of the gods primarily. They are a warring people that are all heavily scarred and battle hardened.

The story was interesting without having much happen. It didn't have the kind of massive conclusion I was expecting. There are still unanswered questions at the end and decisions were made that simply didn't make a lot of sense. It all felt like the vague and ominous prophecy given to Merros early in the book,
You will lose your hand, find your fist and gain an ally. You will meet your enemy face-to-face.

Seven Forges has peeked my interest and left me curious to see where the story heads next.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2019


No Beast So FierceNo Beast So Fierce by Edward Bunker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

”I was going to war with society, or perhaps I would only be renewing it. Now there were no misgivings. I declared myself free from all rules except those I wanted to accept--and I’d change those as I felt the whim. I would take whatever I wanted. I’d be what I was with a vengeance: a criminal.

Society had made me what I was (and ostracized me through fear of what it had created) and I gloried in what I was.”

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Dustin Hoffman is Max Dembo in the movie Straight Time(1978)

Max Dembo has a lot of reasons to hate society. The deck is stacked against him from the very beginning. He is just finishing an eight year hitch, and the outside world has moved on without him. ”A sense of unreality, so intense as to make me dizzy, swelled up. Everything was weird. The tinkling resonance of women’s voices, which I hadn’t heard in eight years was as alien as Chinese to my ears.”

Max is probably more scared than relieved to be finally back out in society. He is pissed off that he has been judged and found unworthy. He is pissed off that he has been locked away from women and forced to expend his desires on soft mouthed, pretty boys and feminine homosexuals. That isn’t who he is, but that is who he had to become.

Now that he is out on parole with $65 in his pocket, his primary concern is supposed to be to find a job, but of course, before he can even think about that, he has to find himself a woman. A soft, good looking woman will be great, but any woman will do. He tries to play the game as it has been dictated to him, but his ball busting parole officer doesn’t make it easy for him to even want to stay straight. Max may have paid his debt to society, but the striped suit of his incarceration is still itching in his skin like a tattoo that never heals.

Max may have been guilty, but he never felt the punishment fit the crime. We keep hearing these stories about people thrown in jail for long sentences who turn out to be innocent. We hear about nonviolent offenders who somehow end up in jail for decades. The whole system needs to be overhauled and reexamined. Why does the United States have more people incarcerated than the whole rest of the world combined?

Fortunately, I was not a hip cat back in 1973.

”A jazz musician I knew had served ten years for possessing a speck of marijuana so small that it had to be placed in a jar of clear oil and floated so the jury could see it.”


We create career criminals out of people who have struggled to find and keep gainful employment. We make criminals out of people suffering from addictions. We need to intercede in young men and women’s lives when they first start to get in trouble. We need to deviate their path, instead of becoming resigned to thinking that they are already lifetime members of the system.

It’s WAY too late for Max.

Max is going to take down a big score and ride the wave for as long as he can. He knows he will be gunned down or caught and thrown back into the hole his life has been in for most of his life. He doesn’t care. He doesn’t see any other alternative. Before he goes down though, he is going to tell you his story.

”So I began this memoir, which became grinding labor, especially when it fell short of absolute truth. The lack is not through deceit, but because truth is difficult. Fools think truth is a simple thing, but I”ve found that it is hard. The facts I’ve written are real, but facts and truth are cousins, not brothers. I’ve imposed a rationality rather than exposed truth.”

Edward Bunker wrote this book as a novel, but it feels more like the genuine confessions of a career criminal.

For those struggling novelists who need a glimmer of hope, this is the sixth novel that Bunker has finished, but the first to be published. The style of this book, written in the first person, is as sharp as curled barbed wire and so compellingly authentic that I feel like I was caught up in a moment by moment docudrama of the life of an active criminal. Bunker makes sure every punch he throws hits the reader in the jaw or in the stomach, making his breath whistle out through his gritted teeth. You will wince. You will cringe. You will shudder. Bunker KNOWS what he is writing about; he spent a good part of his life in jail. He suffered through several bullshit convictions that put him behind bars for way longer than what sanity would dictate. The punishment should fit the crime! The anger that the fictional Max Dembo feels and expresses is mainlined right out of the veins of the writer.

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Edward Bunker as Mr. Blue.

I was reminded that I needed to read Edward Bunker’s work when I rewatched Reservoir Dogs. I actually smiled with secret joy when I saw Bunker cast as Mr. Blue. Quentin Tarantino was a big fan of his novels and his screenplays, so it was a true Tarantino homage to have a real criminal/writer cast in his famous heist film.

”Edward Bunker was dealt a rotten hand at the beginning of his life, and his days thereafter were largely those of a victim in society’s brutalizing institutions. That he emerged from these dungeons not a brute but an artist with a unique and compelling voice is a tribute to his own invincible will, besides being a sweet victory by the artist himself over society and its contempt for the outcast.”---William Styron

To prepare yourself for reading this novel, you need to practice saying MOTHERfucker and motherFUCKER. ”The all-purpose word is ‘motherfucker’, serving as noun, verb, adverb, and adjective--it’s meaning depending on context and intonation. Remove this word from the convict vocabulary and prisons would fall silent.”

What are you looking at motherfucker? Go buy this frilling book!

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Friday, February 22, 2019


Rolf G√ľnter Renner
Taschen Books
Reviewed by Nancy
4 out of 5 stars


Edward Hopper (1882-1967) is considered the first significant American painter in 20th-century art. After decades of patient work, Hopper enjoyed a success and popularity that since the 1950s has continually grown. In canvas after canvas he painted the loneliness of big-city people. Many of Hopper's pictures represent views of streets and roads, rooftops, and abandoned houses, depicted in a brilliant light that strangely belies the melancholy mood of the scenes. Hopper's paintings are marked by striking juxtapositions of colour, and by the clear contours with which the figures are demarcated from their surroundings. His extremely precise focus on the theme of modern men and women in the natural and man-made environment sometimes lends his pictures a mood of eerie disquiet. On the other hand, Hopper's renderings of rocky landscapes in warm brown hues, or his depictions of the seacoast, exude an unusual tranquillity that reveals another, more optimistic side of his character.

My Review

“His framing crops in ways that stimulate and frustrate attention, sometimes suggesting movement and change while fixing the subject so firmly that his best works appear like freezed frames from a lifelong movie. Hopper’s viewpoints, framing, and lighting frequently appropriate movie and theater conventions.”― Brian O'Doherty

I was thrilled to be taking an Art History class at the same time there was an Edward Hopper exhibit at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. The museum was extremely crowded that day and I was with my classmates and instructor on a field trip that was not focused on any one artist, so it was difficult for me to truly contemplate his work. Unfortunately, the exhibit was over the same by the time I was able to make a solitary trip there.

So I was happy to find this book at the library to revisit the works I saw in Boston and discover his lesser known paintings and etchings.

I love the vivid and unsentimental portrayals of American urban and rural life, the serious and melancholy mood of his characters, and their environment.

“Maybe I am not very human. What I wanted to do was to paint sunlight on the side of a house.”
– Edward Hopper

Renner thoughtfully analyzed the artist’s style, techniques and influences. At the end is a brief biography of the artist.

I wish the book was a little larger, so I could fully appreciate Hopper’s magnificent works, but I also liked the smaller size that made it easy to carry around and snatch reading time throughout the day.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

A Flight of Broken Wings

A Flight of Broken Wings (The Aeriel Chronicles, #1)A Flight of Broken Wings by Nupur Chowdhury
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Angel like Aeriels ruled earth until humanity revolted against them. Hundreds of years later Aeriels still present a threat to humanity. When a new Aeriel threat is revealed by a foreign dignitary, hunter Ruban Kinoh will do anything to end the threat.

A Flight of Broken Wings was truly an enjoyable story. It started slowly and I did wonder what I was getting myself into, but I came to like Ruban, Ashwin, and the world building.

One of the most interesting aspects of the book is the Aeriels themselves. Aeriels are immortal creatures that physically resemble angels. They also pack an extra punch as they can blast energy. They are far more physically power than humans and with the ability of flight it's amazing humanity ever overthrew them. They are only vulnerable to a substance known as sif which humanity formed into blades called sifblades. The story revolves around the fact that the ancient Queen of the Aeriels wants to steal a new formula to reinforce sifblades.

I appreciate an author who can poke fun at her character. "How was it that he never had more than one sifblade on him whenever he was being attacked by some of the most powerful Aeriels in creation? What use was a whole arsenal full of top-of-the-line ammunition when all he ever actually had to work with was an old standard-issue sifblade..." I've repeatedly wondered why Ruban isn't armed to teeth with sifblades especially since he throws his sifblade in seemingly every fight.

I was a little disappointed in the mystery aspect of the story. I figured out the biggest mystery in the story the first moment it was introduced. There was just a significant lack of potential suspects so the guilty party felt obvious to me.

A Flight of Broken Wings was a good story and a pleasant surprise.

3.5 out of 5 stars

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2019


GilgameshGilgamesh by Anonymous
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

”The one who saw the abyss I will make the land know;
Of him who knew all, let me tell the whole story the same way...

Is there a king like him anywhere?
Who like Gilgamesh can boast, ‘I am the king!’

From the day of his birth Gilgamesh was called by name.”

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An exorcist priest named Sin-Leqi-Unninni is famous for being the scribe who recorded the best preserved version of the Epic of Gilgamesh. He lived in Mesopotamia between 1300-11oo BC. His name translates roughly as The Moon God is One Who Accepts my Prayers. The poem is thought to have existed as much as a 1000 years before Sin-Leqi-Unninni transcribed this version, which would make this story over 4000 years old.

It is remarkable that we have these clay tablets at all. We have pieces of the story in other forms, and any translator who takes on the task of looking with fresh eyes at these cuneiform shapes relies heavily on the other scattered pieces to fill in the gaps of the missing sections of clay or the parts that have been rubbed into obscurity.

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Here is an example of what is readable out of the severely damaged tablet V column VI:

...a second time…
...threw down…
They cut off the head of Humbaba.”

It makes me think of when I was a kid watching a show, and the TV signal would start going on the fritz. The picture would start flipping and turning to static (probably a passing low flying UFO). I would be banging on the set (because that always helps) and frantically wiggling the ears until the rabbit is squawking. I’d get pieces of sound with distorted dialogue. Finally, the signal would be reacquired just in time for me to hear,

“That was amazing, Magnum.”

Fortunately, John Gardner and John Maier were able to resurrect the missing pieces from other sources, and they share that with us so we can see what we probably missed. It would have been wonderful to read how Sin-Leqi-Unninni would have interpreted that particular dynamic scene of Gilgamesh and Enkidu subduing Humbaba. One can only hope that more Gilgamesh pieces are still out there to be discovered and maybe, even possibly, another copy of this particular translation.

When I think of Gilgamesh, I also think of Beowulf. Both are epic, larger than life heroes whom I frequently, in my youth, mixed up. It wasn’t until I was at college, taking literature courses, that I managed to pry the two apart into two separate beings.

Gilgamesh VS Beowulf

Who would win? Well, Gilgamesh is two thirds celestial being and only one third human. When Enkidu is created as a counter balance to him by the Gods, it really isn’t a contest. Despite Enkidu being a powerful and great warrior, he is no match for Gilgamesh, so I’d have to say my head proclaims Gilgamesh would win against Beowulf, but my heart is always going to be with Beowulf.

Enkidu is raised by wolves, well basically the whole wildlife kingdom, and when it is time for him to give Gilgamesh his comeuppance, they decide the best way to bring Enkidu into the arms of civilization is to tempt him with the charms of a woman.

Here he is, courtesan; get ready to embrace him.
Open your legs, show him your beauty.
Do not hold back, take his wind away.
Seeing you, he will come near.
Strip off your clothes so he can mount you.
Make him know, this-man-as-he-was, what a woman is.
His beasts who grew up in his wilderness will turn from him.
He will press his body over your wildness.”

And man, did it ever work. It is like mainlining the poor bastard with some pure China White. He is hooked. ”Six days and seven nights Enkidu attacked, fucked the priestess.” Though this might resemble a honeymoon, never leave the hotel type situation, I doubt it was quite the same.

Enkido and Gilgamesh, after their property destroying epic battle, became best friends. Inseparable until death parts them. They kill the Bull of Heaven after the beast is sent for by the scorned goddess Ishtar.

You see, Gilgamesh turns her down.

”Which of your lovers have you loved forever?
Which of your little shepherds has continued to please you?
Come, let me name your lovers for you,”

which is actually very astute of Gilgamesh, who is really better known as a love them and leave them type. There is, in fact, a lot of grumbling about his Middle Ages type insistence that he has firsties with any new bride in the kingdom. I guess the rat bastard aristocracy of the Medieval period had read a copy of Gilgamesh, or maybe we can assume that men with absolute power have always been the same.

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Enkidu and Gilgamesh

There must be a price paid for killing the Bull of Heaven, and the Gods are not going to strike down their golden boy, Gilgamesh, so that leaves his best friend, Enkido, to be the fall guy. When you are on an away mission with Gilgamesh, you always wear the red shirt.

The grief that Gilgamesh feels is actually poignant.

”Six days and seven nights I wept over him.
until a worm fell out of his nose.
Then I was afraid.”

I really think that maybe Gilgamesh hopes the gods will take pity on him and listen to his lamentations and restore life to Enkidu, but my rule has always been, when a worm falls out of a loved one’s nose, it is time to bury him or run like hell because Uncle Ted has just joined the Walking Dead.

Gilgamesh travels to the underworld looking for his friend. I love this line: ”His face was like that of one who travels a long road.” I can see his mental and physical pain etched into the lines of his face.

There is a long digression in the story while Sin-Leqi-Unninni relates THE FLOOD story, starring Utnapishtim as Noah. The rest of the starring characters, that would be us sinners, are drowned. We are merely bobbing nuisances in the water, as a backdrop to Utnapishtim’s celebratory high 5s with the giraffes, gorillas, and gazelles.

Though nonsensical for Sin-Leqi-Unninni to shove Gilgamesh off center stage, it is actually very interesting to read.

”When he orders bread at night, he (Shamash) will rain down wheat,
enter the boat and close the gate.”

My family raises a lot of wheat, so the whole image of raining down wheat to feed Utnapishtim and his family is something I have never heard of in connection with the Noah version, but I really like the visual of wheat cascading from heaven to fill up the deck of the boat.

On his journey, Gilgamesh finds a weed that will restore his vigor and youthfulness. He wants to take it back to Uruk and share it with others. I’m already thinking to myself, gobble it down man, save some for others, but gobble yours now.

Well, then a snake shows up, and …

This is a blast to read. The notes that Gardner and Maier provide are invaluable to help me better understand the story, so don’t just read Gilgamesh, allow yourself to be immersed in the whole experience. I would read the text from the tablet and then read the notes to find some, not so subtle, changes occurring to my own interpretation of the meaning. Use these experts to heighten not only your knowledge but also your overall enjoyment of reading one of the oldest known stories in existence.

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John Gardner

I keep pondering the unexpected death of John Gardner in 1982. He died in a tragic motorcycle accident at the tender age of 49, before this book was published. I couldn’t help thinking of him because the notes are infused with his charismatic personality and his boyish enthusiasm. He had been drinking but was below the legal limit at the time. John Maier feels that he was overworked from too many projects and too little sleep. I first encountered Gardner when I read his wonderful, slender volume Grendel (1971), which I really need to reread so I can write a review for it. I didn’t know that he was already dead at the time that I read Grendel, but when I did find it out later, I felt that temporary displacement of learning bad news as if it had just happened. RIP John Gardner. May you be able to complete your tasks in the next life.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Black Leopard, Red Wolf (The Dark Star Trilogy, #1) By: Marlon James

Black Leopard, Red Wolf (The Dark Star Trilogy, #1)Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a hard read, probably the first epic fantasy in my knowledge that treats epic as everyday. Marlon James has written a beautiful, raw, physical book that to take another reviews words doesn't really care if you understand it or not. You will want to understand, you will want to gnaw the meat from the bone. The layers upon layers built in this world with language, storytelling and the mysticism of the world will draw you in.

This book will make you work for it, and if you cut through it all, you will be glad you did.

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Saturday, February 16, 2019

Jim Hines space opera "Terminal Uprising" keeps the action fun and humerous

In “Terminal Alliance”, Jim Hines sensational space opera, a motley crew of bio-engineered janitors is forced to step up and save the universe. After a bio-weapon decimates the alien Krakau command crew on the space cruiser EMCS Pufferfish, Marion “Mops” Adamopoulos, the senior, and very smart, janitor, and her small crew of cleanup specialists thwarts the savage alien Prodryan’s plan for universal conquest, while learning the truth about what caused humanity's descent into feral cannibalistic behavior on Earth (hint it was not because of something humans did, there was an outside agency involved) and simultaneously having to figure out how to pilot and defend the ship in space battles. While Hines milks the entire janitor motif to the hilt, he combines a sharp wit and sly humor as he skewers a lot of sf tropes in this super fun read.   We need more books like Terminal Alliance in science fiction.

“Terminal Uprising”, Hines humorous follow-up to the terrific “Terminal Alliance” continues Mops and her crew’s adventures. Now free from Krakuan dominance, Mops and her crew are piloting their stolen space cruiser, the Pufferfish, but running into issues with supplies.  Admiral Pachelbel, a Krakuan, who wants to do the right thing has provided information to Mops, which requires them to  pick up Cate, a Prodryan lawyer, with all the nasty lawyer tricks, with a secret agenda (and everyone has a secret agenda).  Pachelbel wants Mops to go back to Earth, which is guarded by the Krakua space force, because there have been sightings on Earth of non-feral humans. During her trip to get Cate, Mops slyly defeats an Krakua armada trying to capture her ship with another awesome display of alien anatomy and janitorial knowledge.

 Continuing their journey to Earth, Mops continues her talent for milking all of the alien races fear of human warrior talents.  One of the story elements of Terminal Alliance is that the Krakuan's bio-engineered most humans into ferocious unstoppable space warriors, who they have been using to dominate the universe.  While they breach the Krakuan space barrier surrounding on Earth, Mops, Cate, Monroe and Wolf, one of her crewmates, and a woman who really wants to be a warrior, if she only could shoot straight, get to the surface, but lose their shuttle, while the rest of the crew hide in space.

On Earth, Mops and her cohort find the non-feral survivors living in fortified underground towns.  Its not that people have found a cure.  Some people were just immune from the bio- weapon that decimated Earth's populous.  But Mops and her crew and the earthlings come under attack from Krakuan forces illegally on Earth.  It seems like there is another secret plot afoot to keep the Krakuans in power.  Since Mops crew defeated the Procydans, the Krakuans think they need help to stop the surging Procydans from destroying the universe.  In the ensuing confrontation, the human survivors of Earth and Mops ragtag group of janitors will have to use all of their wits and strategically placed cleaning supplies to defeat the Krakuan traitors.There are some very good scenes here.  Confrontations between Mops and the evil Krakuans and between Wolf and the earthlings.  Wolf does a lot of growing up.

Besides Hines' witty prose and humor, what made Terminal Alliance such a fun read was three things - the juxtaposition of Mops lowly janitor position with the saving the universe plot, the likability of the characters and a fast moving adventure story set in different alien locations. In Terminal Uprising, Hines shifts the setting to Earth, and away from space battles, and the action involves a whole new group of characters. There is less journeying around the universe meeting new aliens and more stationary settings. I think this detracted a bit from the freshness of the first book.  Maybe it’s just hard to still milk the same jokes as is the first novel. But I think it’s also hard to strike lightning in a bottle. This is a really good novel, a fun read that will keep you fully engaged, and for a second book in a trilogy it more than holds its own against other books out there. Its just not as fun a read as Terminal Alliance.

But it’s definitely worth a read. I would follow Mops anywhere.

In the crowded field of fantasy, paranormal superheroes and fantasy mystery mashups, it’s good to pick up a fun witty sf space opera novel filled with likable characters and humorous situations. Snap up the pair.

Nick Petrie's "Tear it Down" is a A + thriller

Nick Petrie's fourth Peter Ash novel "Tear it Down" cements his "go to" status for that certain type of strong warrior action adventure thrillers—that is the a good guy fighting against the bad guys. His novels are non-stop action. Occupying some of the same territory as the oft compared, but little duplicated "Jack Reacher" novels, Peter Ash uses his unique skill set and friends to help people who are facing troubles and to right wrongs. There is an innate moral code underlying these novels.
Good people beating back bad. And in Peter Ash, Petrie is not afraid to break laws so that the "right" people – that is good people- win out against murderous thugs, racist killers or gangs who are threatening them. And in “Tear it Down”, the multi-racial setting is an ideal location because Petrie gets to show another part of our multi cultural country to good effect.

If you are new to the Peter Ash canon, he is an ex-soldier who returned from war overseas with some unique warrior skill set and a problem with enclosed places. When he spends too much time in buildings, the “White Noise” builds up and causes him problems. But he can also harness the White Noise to reveal the skills of a warrior. Hyper fit and blessed with some great fighting techniques, Ash likes to build and repair buildings and people's lives. Currently living with his girlfriend June Cassidy, he has gotten his bruised and battered body back in shape from his last escapade, and has rebuilt all of Cassidy's homestead. She easily recognizes that he needs a new cause. She sends him to multi-racial Memphis to help her friend Wanda, a black combat photographer, who has been getting threatening calls.

When Ash gets to Wanda's house, he finds that someone has escalated the threats and driven a stolen dump truck into her living room. But Wanda has escaped harm and is not ready to leave. Ash tells her he will help fix up her place and also help protect her from the outside threats. Wanda is also suffering some unknown war related problem and is consuming multiple drugs to combat it.

While gathering supplies, Ash is waylaid in his truck at a gas station by a Eli Bell, a guitar playing teenager. It seems the Bell, who has a talent for music and planning, was involved in a 4 person jewelry store robbery at a local mall that went south, and while he escaped with the loot, others were not so lucky. Although Ash could stop him, he feels for Bell and lets him take his truck, but regrets it immediately. On the way back from the hijacking, Ash is grabbed up by King Robbie, Memphis’s reining drug kingpin, who puts Ash in his fortified Mercedes and questions him about Bell. With King are Charlene Scott, King’s shooter and Adrien Brody, his man mountain muscle.

On the way back to Wanda’s, Ash sees some murderous thugs using a machine gun to shoot up her house. With nary a delay, he grabs a forcibly grabs a gun from Charlene, and runs out to stop the thugs. The thugs are Judah Lee, a white supremacist killer who just got out of jail and his hog killing brother Albert. The brothers are hell bent on getting the house from Wanda because there is an old family story of buried loot in the house.

The stage now set, the action picks up even more. There a confrontation with another drug dealer which ends with Ash with a gun. Ash almost catches Eli Bell. King Robbie is not done with Ash and Judah Lee, is a crazed homicidal killer. Ash has to call for reinforcements, and his friend, Lewis, comes south. Lewis is handy with a shotgun and is game for business. Locked and loaded, Ash and Lewis will have to protect Eli Bell and Wanda and put a stop to the killing.

There will be a confrontation with King Robbie’s crew who Lewis and Ash brace in their hideout and a highway battle with Albert and Judah Lee which culminates in a hand to hand battle.

It’s a tough world, but a good man and his friends can make all the difference.

The Other Man: 21 Writers Speak Candidly about Sex, Love, Infidelity, & Moving On

Edited by Paul Alan Fahey
Reviewed by Nancy
5 out of 5 stars


Who is the other man?

He’s an accident waiting to happen: the skateboarder round the bend, the smiling barista with the extra hot mocha, the computer geek eager to retool your mate’s hard drive. He’s a relationship gatecrasher bound by no rules and with no sense of fair play. Like Caesar, he comes, he sees, he conquers. On the flip side, you or I can be the other man, charging in and breaking the bonds of a committed relationship without a thought to the pain and misery inflicted upon the injured parties. Face it: We’re not all innocent bystanders in other-man scenarios.

The Other Man is an artistic collaboration by and about gay men and their relationships. If you’ve ever been the other man, had him invade your life, or are just plain curious about this beguiling, unpredictable and dangerous creature, then this anthology of personal essays is for you. Twenty-one of our most acclaimed authors, many Lambda Award winners and finalists, write candidly about either being the other man, suffering the other man or having their relationships tested by infidelity. What they tell us is we must take heart, it does get better and one day our luck is bound to change. We’ll survive the bumps and detours in our relationships and weather the storms, or resolve to move on. Along the way, we’ll hope to meet someone new and simpatico, maybe even our long-awaited soul mate. Life will be good again. Or will it?

Contributors include: Perry Brass, Austin Bunn, Rob Byrnes, Mark Canavera, R.W. Clinger, Lewis DeSimone, Paul Alan Fahey, Wes Hartley, William Henderson, Allen Mack, Jeff Mann, Tom Mendicino, Erik Orrantia, Felice Picano, David Pratt, Glen Retief, Jeffrey Ricker, Rodney Ross, Jason Schneiderman, Philip Dean Walker, and Chuck Willman. Edited by: Paul Alan Fahey.

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this anthology will go to the It Gets Better Project.

My Review

I was ecstatic to get the opportunity to read this collection of stories, especially since Rodney Ross, author of The Cool Part of His Pillow, is one of the contributors, and I really loved his first book.

Each of the stories in this collection is deeply personal and candid and offers different perspectives on infidelity. Human emotions are very complex and relationships are hard work, requiring commitment from both partners. Life is full of unexpected changes and I really enjoyed reading these struggles to adapt and grow in spite of relationship difficulties.

Even though this collection focuses on gay relationships, there is something in here for everyone, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

Jeffrey Ricker explores online dating after he had his heart broken in What If?. The relationships with men looking for something on the side were fun, but he wants more.

In The Rival With a Thousand Faces, Glen Retief is living with the love of his life in Spain, but learns that living with a deeply closeted man who is away from home a lot and has secrets of his own can be as difficult as coping with the difficulties of living in a foreign country. I loved the literature references and need to read Graham Greene.

Stung and humiliated by his last cheating boyfriend, Jason Schneiderman now plays hard to get in The Hat Prize. He learns his new date, Michael, has a boyfriend, but they enjoy each other’s company. Since Jason didn’t have to worry about falling in love, his relationship with Michael proceeded naturally without having to deal with all the pressure and awkwardness of a first date. Very sweet story.

In Husbands, Austin Bunn left his boyfriend when their education and careers took them separate ways. He discusses his affairs with married men, the advantages and disadvantages, at the same time exploring their motives and discovering more about his inner self and his own needs.

R.W. Clinger's In the Brokenness of Summertime explores the effects of infidelity on a long-married couple. The anger, hurt and guilt pouring from the pages was just heartbreaking. This is an intense and unsettling story, but the ending made me giggle.

In Any Resemblance to Actual Persons, Living or Dead, Is Entirely Coincidental, Tom Mendicino describes his own experience with Hal, a married man looking for discreet sex with men on the side and how he was the inspiration for a character in his first novel.

Mark Canavera learns that his lover, Ousmane, is having a virtual relationship in Complicity. He remembers his own affair that occurred just a few months before and even though Mark’s transgression was worse, the impact is the same. Will they be able to forgive each other? I liked the glimpse of life and troubles in West Africa.

In Turbulence, Chuck Willman shows how lies and deception impact everyone involved.

Some people think that it’s perfectly acceptable to “fuck around” during periods of extended absence. Of course, for such relationships to work there has to be openness, honesty and a set of ground rules. Allen Mack’s Just Wally and Me was a lighthearted, warm and funny story that made me smile.

Rob believes he’s an actor, even though he hasn’t worked in many years. Infidelity can break hearts…so can unfulfilled dreams. David Pratt’s Way Off explores the challenges of professional acting and a relationship in turmoil. This was a very sad story.

Morris Hartman is a lawyer…and a huge fan of author Perry Brass. He’s also straight, married and in the process of coming out. Perry is intrigued by this man, even though he has had disappointing experiences with fans in the past. They meet and have an affair. It’s not so simple. A Pitiless Love uncovers the emotional pain that can be suffered by the one who cheats.

Paul Alan Fahey’s Where Are You Going To? shows how the music you listen to can define special moments in your life.

I loved Jeff Mann’s Thomas. This is a really sad and lovely story that explores a man’s overwhelming pain and emotions from loving someone who doesn’t love him back. Time does not always heal wounds.

In Erik Orrantia’s Ballad Echoes, Erik feels responsible for taking care of his HIV+ lover even though their love has died. He falls for another man who is not so perfect either, but he manages to learn from his mistakes and move on. Relationships can never be perfect, because people are not. I hope Erik is happy.

In Philip Dean Walker’s The Other Side of the Game, Phil has had his eyes on a buff dude at the gym for over two years. He has a vibrant online life and a boyfriend, but that doesn’t stop Phil from making a date with him. The two men have an affair while Drew’s boyfriend is studying abroad. The boyfriend returns, but Phil is unable to let go.

In the sexy Three’s A Charm, Wes Hartley talks about how he met his 16-year-old boyfriend, Riley, while he was in a relationship with the boy’s uncle, Ronny. Riley is not out yet, and is looking for a sexual mentor. This consists of no more than friendly head and sleepovers. Once Riley gains his confidence and skill, he comes out to his uncle and meets Tanner, a hot number close to his own age. The sleepovers continue…

Lewis DeSimone conveys the intense passion and overwhelming emotions of first love in Last Tango in Cambridge. This is a beautiful and heartfelt story.

William Henderson’s You Without Me is a very intriguing story told in the second-person point of view about an unhappily married man who does not reveal this fact to his new lover. His lover slips back into old ways. I liked the intimate feel of this story.

Rodney Ross and his partner have been together 30 years. In And Then There Was One, he tells amusing tales about the couples they know whose relationships failed. Wisely, they have chosen not to take sides.

Felice Picano’s The Child, is not about a child at all, but about a man who was the author’s partner’s “other man.” In the 70’s, gay relationships were open until HIV began to change things. This story deals with illness, death, grief and the messiness associated with it.

In A Brief History of the Divorce Party, the party was originally a holiday party until Rob Byrnes’ partner announced he was in love with someone else. It doesn’t have to end up badly. Time passes and life changes. Couples who have had history together can still be good friends and learn from their mistakes.

I enjoyed every single one of these personal stories and loved how they explored the complexities of relationships with humor, warmth and sensitivity.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019


The StandThe Stand by Stephen King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“None of us want to see portents and omens, no matter how much we like our ghost stories and the spooky films. None of us want to really see a Star in the East or a pillar of fire by night. We want peace and rationality and routine. If we have to see God in the black face of an old woman, it’s bound to remind us that there’s a devil for every god—and our devil may be closer than we like to think.”

A plague has escaped a lab killing most of the population, only a few, a mere fraction of the whole, has immunity or manages to survive being infected.

It is over in a matter of weeks. Civilization grinds to a halt, then collapses, and then falls into chaos.

A Mad Max world is born.

A virus that kills 99.4% of the people it infects is a very stupid virus. Even the Black Plague had a 20% survival rate, so for a virus to act this stupidly, it would have to be man made. The last thing any virus should do is kill the host. Death of the host leads to death of the virus.

”Now most of the young folks and old folks were gone, and most of those in between. God had brought down a harsh judgment on the human race.”

Invariably, we can’t help bringing God into any situation where we think a judgment has been handed down on humanity, but he/she doesn’t have anything to do with this. This is man destroying himself. Some would make the case that God could have interceded, could have saved us if we had been worthy, but then when have we ever been ‘worthy’? Since we are made in his image I do think sometimes what God, if he exists, likes least in us is what he likes least about himself. The whole theory of God is built on good and evil. If evil exists, then oddly God exists. The Vatican has been working relentlessly to prove for centuries that pure evil exists to justify the whole need for their continued existence.

The proof might be rising out of the ashes of this virulent plague. ”He was coming, Flagg was coming like some terrible horror monster out of the scariest picture ever made. The dark man’s cheeks were flushed with jolly color, his eyes were twinkling with happy good fellowship, and a great hungry voracious grin stretched his lips over huge tombstone teeth, shark teeth, and his hands were held out in front of him, and there were shiny black crow feathers fluttering from his hair.”

The survivors are dreaming about the Dark Man, and they are dreaming about the old black woman in the cornfields of Nebraska. These dreams are as vivid as they are confusing. There is a battle for their souls going on. They must choose. Do they go to Randall Flagg, or do they flock to Abagail Freemantle?

You would think it would be an easy decision. Don’t most of us think of ourselves as good people? Of course, we would join Abagail, the self-anointed prophet of God. Except, maybe it isn’t so clearly cut; as the two groups grow, it is starting to look like an even split. Abagail brings her flock to Boulder, Colorado, wanting to use the natural barrier of the Rockies to be the dividing line between her “good people” and the evil people following the Dark Man.

Not to mention that she knows there has to be a reckoning.

But are they evil? When people from the Boulder Free Zone mingle with those from the Dark Side, they find them to be normal people, just like the people they left back in Boulder. The biggest difference is that they are afraid, and fear, as we know, is the most insidious and easiest way to control people. It becomes very clear that Abagail’s army is really only fighting one man, one man with supernatural powers. ”Nevermore. Tap, tap, tap. The crow, looking in at him, seeming to grin. And it came to him with a dreamy, testicle-shriveling certainty that this was the dark man, his soul, his ka somehow projected into this rain-drenched, grinning crow that was looking in at him, checking up on him.”

So it is sort of interesting to speculate about whether there are truly evil beings like Randall Flagg in the world, waiting for their opportunity, waiting for people to need someone larger than themselves to lead. Their power grows as people choose to believe in them. As long as civilization exists and people are reasonably content, a person like Flagg is never given an opportunity to thrive.

We through our own discontent empower evil.

This novel is one of the King epics. A fan poll on Goodreads, The Best of Stephen King Poll, shows that his fans still believe this is his best book. My favorite book, and the one that I feel will be considered his masterpiece, is IT , a book that I feel really brings together all of his best skills in building characters and shows off his gift for creating twisty, scary plots . IT is #2 on the Goodreads poll. Pennywise, in my opinion, might have had as large an impact on reading/watching audiences as Norman Bates in Psycho. Once you have been introduced to Pennywise try walking past a storm drain without giving it a wide berth.

The Stand has a large cast, and most readers will have a favorite character. I liked several characters, actually, and wondered if I was going to find myself in a George R.R. Martin universe where identifying with a character was tantamount to self-inflicted grief. I was fortunate to stick with Stu Redman. He is a hick from Texas who continues to show hidden depths as circumstances shape and reveal his character. He made me smile with the following response, when it looks like dire circumstances may lead to a slow death: “Ralph came over to Stu and knelt down. ‘Can we get you anything, Stu?’ Stu smiled. ‘Yeah. Everything Gore Vidal ever wrote—those books about Lincoln and Aaron Burr and those guys. I always meant to read the suckers. Now it looks like I got the time.’”

Gotta love the thought of a redneck from Texas reading the unabashed New York homosexual.

In the forward, Stephen King talks about the meeting he had with the publishing group about the size of The Stand. It was originally published at about 800 pages, but then when they decided to reissue the uncut version, he was able to put back in about 400 pages that he had been forced to excise. ”I reluctantly agreed to do the surgery myself. I think I did a fairly good job, for a writer who has been accused over and over again of having diarrhea of the word processor.” He agreed to the cuts because the publishing team made a compelling case. They were able to show him the sales from his previous four books, the profit margin, and if he sold the same number of books of The Stand, how much slimmer the profit margin would be, because of the cost to produce the 400 extra pages. So the cuts were not made for editorial reasons, but for common sense accounting reasons. King was very happy to have the orphaned material reunited with the rest of the book.

The book does bog down at times for me. I think that is inevitable with a book this size. King is taking on some larger themes here and for the most part keeps all the plates spinning in the air. I read a lot of post-apocalyptic books, and I’m sure if I ever let myself be put on a couch, a psychologist will explore those reasons thoroughly, but one thing I notice, while I am immersing myself in The Stand, is that I have a greater appreciation for my life and the cocoon that civilization wraps around me to keep me safe and provide me with the necessities so that I can have the time I want to read, putter, and write. Maybe I’m not as obsessed with the END OF THE WORLD as much as I am finding new ways to appreciate the wonderful life I do have.

I have to admit, though, that I had to agree with lifestyle philosophy of the sociologist Glen Bateman. ”But Bateman himself hadn’t wanted to get in on the ground floor of society’s reappearance. He seemed perfectly content—at least for the time being—to go for his walks with Kojak, paint his pictures, putter around his garden, and think about the sociological ramifications of nearly total decimation.”

I would hope I could ignore the siren calls of the ancient, wise woman in Nebraska and the seductive pull of The Dark Man and just enjoy the peace and quiet of a more tranquil world without the constant noise of people talking on their cell phones, music blaring from cars, planes taking off from airports, and millions of electrical lines humming.

It is truly amazing any of us can think.

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Friday, February 8, 2019

The Bonds of Love

J.M. Snyder
JMS Books
Reviewed by Nancy
5 out of 5 stars


Vic Braunson has a special kind of problem -- his lover, Matt diLorenzo, somehow imbues him with enhanced superpowers every time they have sex. It's something Vic has learned to live with in the years they've been together, and something he won't let stand in the way of their relationship. Matt hates the powers, particularly when they put Vic in danger, but what can they do?

When Vic stops an armed robbery at a local convenience store, his picture appears in the morning paper. Later that day, Matt gets a phone call at work from Jordan Dubrowski, a guy he knew in high school. Jordan was his first, in every way -- it was through him that Matt discovered his ability to transfer superpowers to his lovers. Jordan had a taste of those powers, and after reading about Vic's role in the hold up, he's decided he wants them back.

But Matt is in love, and Vic won't let him go without a fight. Still, Jordan will stop at nothing to get what he thinks rightly belongs to him.

My Review

In this third story of the Powers of Love series, Vic and Matt have been together for three years. Vic has become more accustomed to and is better able to control the superpowers that Matt gives him every time they make love.

Vic puts them to good use during an armed robbery at a convenience store. He takes three bullets to the chest at point black range, the robber runs, Vic gets up, and both he and Matt are the topic of the morning news.

Vic’s pesky co-worker, Kyle, who was Matt’s ex, has a new boyfriend and invites Vic and Matt to a cookout at his house. Vic wants nothing to do with it, but Matt wants to go, just to prove to Kyle that “Mr. Right” does exist and there is such a thing as true love. The last thing Matt needs is a blast from the past in the form of his first lover in high school, Jordan Dubrowski, who is now Kyle’s new boyfriend.

Jordan had a taste of Matt’s sexually transmitted superpowers when he found the ability to run like the wind and decided to join the high school track team.

I adore the main characters, Vic and Matthew. Their emotions are intense and their love and devotion to each other is beautiful and heartwarming. Plus, the superpowers Vic gets from making love are fun, creative and imaginative, and sometimes troublesome to both men. The secondary characters are well developed. This is a really well written story that had my pulse pounding, made me happy, and broke my heart. I like the long length of the story that really gave me an opportunity to know Vic and Matt even better.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

The Perfect Assassin

The Perfect Assassin (Chronicles of Ghadid #1)The Perfect Assassin by K.A. Doore
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Amastan has trained to be an assassin. After completing his final test, he learns there are no contracts and he feels relieved. His relief is short lived when he discovers the body of one of Ghadid's leaders, a drum chief. Amastan finds himself ordered to solve the murder of the drum chief soon or he and his assassin family will pay the consequences. On top of all that the spirit of the deceased is roaming free seeking a new body.

The Perfect Assassin is a murder mystery with slightly different surroundings. Rather than a straight forward detective, a novice assassin is tasked to find out who done it. The book also features very active souls called jaani's that must be quieted or else they will go wild driving people mad and possibly even worse.

I personally was expecting much more assassin action and much less detective investigation. That would have been fine if the investigation aspects were better. The hard part of the investigation for me is the world wasn't developed enough to make it clear who the killer could be. Amastan is chasing a nameless faceless individual with little more than the standard family, employees, and enemies as suspects. Even that doesn't really get developed and there was only one flimsily attached potential suspect. After not introducing strong suspects the book practically tells you who the killer is in an unsatisfying way.

All that being said I did come to like Amastan. He's methodical and careful. Probably too careful. He wants to help everyone and doesn't seem much like an assassin throughout.

The Perfect Assassin was a decent mystery even though the mystery was underdeveloped.

3 out of 5 stars

I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Wednesday, February 6, 2019


FiccionesFicciones by Jorge Luis Borges
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

”The truth is I grew up in a garden, behind lanceolate railings, and in a library of unlimited, English books.”

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Jorge Luis Borges

Jorge Luis Borges, possibly one of the greatest readers of all time, lost his eyesight later in life. I believe the most terrible thing to have happen to a reader is to lose their ability to see. Yes, with Audible now making thousands of books available to be read to people, a blind reader has not completely lost the way to their magical escape tunnels to other worlds. Maybe, if I were blind, I could convince myself that I’ve returned to the age of Homer, where an oral tradition is the only means to pass on stories to others, but that will be a difficult transition for me. I am a reader. I process words much differently by reading them than by having them read to me, so I do think that if I did lose my eyesight, I would be, frankly, finished as a reader.

The question would be, which is very much a Borges type question, is who then would I be?

The blind Borges became Homer, a lecturer who travelled the world, sharing brilliant suppositions by pairing bits of knowledge from here and there that were only made possible by his prodigious reading. These wonderful suppositions, new revelations of what makes us tick as thinking human beings, were only made possible because of all the information he had stored in his brain from...books. So when someone says to me, why do I need to know anything when everything is on the internet? I always say, having the information available doesn’t mean that you have the capacity to make the connections to fully comprehend and use that knowledge, or for that matter even know what to google in the first place.

Borges had the internet in his head.

I never really know how to review collections of short stories without the reviews becoming ponderously long. I decided to share a few quotes from the stories that I find to be interesting. My notes from reading this book are vast and easily could have led to a dissertation many times longer than the original source material. I desisted.

For those readers who struggle with Borges’s text, don’t worry. I struggled as well. I had to read and reread sections of the story to make sure that I captured more of what Borges meant. I am positive, many times, that I failed to completely comprehend all that he intended for me to glean from his writing. My advice is to forge ahead, keep swimming from island to island of wonderfully written passages. Do not become overly anxious. I do not want you to get a cramp and drown in the Borges Sea.

”From the far end of the corridor, the mirror was watching us; and we discovered, with the inevitability of discoveries made late at night, that mirrors have something grotesque about them. Then Bioy Casares recalled that one of the heresiarchs of Uqbar had stated that mirrors and copulation are abominable, since they both multiply the numbers of man”--Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius. I’d never really thought of mirrors as abominations before. Though mirrors have been associated with sex probably from the moment the inventor of mirrors first hung a shard on the ceiling over his bed (fanciful supposition).

”One of the schools in Tlon has reached the point of denying time. It reasons that the present is undefined, that the future has no other reality than as present hope, that the past is no more than present memory. Another school declares that the whole of time has already happened and that our life is a vague memory or dim reflection, doubless false and fragmented, of an irrevocable process” --Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius. I can remember pondering the concept of time as a child and wondering why we are so obsessed with it when it constantly reminds us of the quick passage of our lives. If we don’t know what time it is or what day it is or what year it is, we can’t possibly be crippled by the knowing our own age. We would be perpetually as young as we think ourselves to be.

”I cannot imagine the universe without the interjection of Edgar Allan Poe“--Pierre Menard, Author of Don Quixote. Poe, so ignored by his own country for most of his life. Thank goodness the Europeans (and one Argentinian European in particular) saw his merit.

”Every man should be capable of all ideas, and I believe that in the future he will be”--Pierre Menard, Author of Don Quixote. Ideas used to travel so slowly. It is almost as if Borges is anticipating the internet. Of course, as I stated earlier in this review, people must still have a wide base of knowledge in their own head to fully appreciate or apply the brilliant ideas of others.

”With relief, with humiliation, with terror, he understood that he also was an illusion, that someone else was dreaming him”--The Circular Ruins. This would explain a lot. Whoever is dreaming me needs to drink less alcohol or shoot less heroin because I could really use a more coherent path forward.

”I deeply lament having lent, irretrievably, the first book he published, to a female acquaintance”--The Work of Herbert Quain. Ahh yes, who hasn’t lent a book to a saucy literary woman or a handsome poetic man with the hopes of words shared easing the assault on their virtue. The problem, of course, is that rarely do lent volumes return to us. The rule, clearly, for readers and especially collectors is to never lend a book that you expect to get back.

”Quain was in the habit of arguing that readers were an already extinct species”--The Work of Herbert Quain. If they were really serious about saving readers as a species, they would have us behind bars in book filled zoos, encouraging us to reproduce with one another.

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Library of Babel

”I suspect that the human species--the unique human species--is on the road to extinction, while the Library will last on forever: illuminated, solitary, infinite, perfectly immovable, filled with precious volumes, useless, incorruptible, secret”--The Library of Babel. There was a time I would have agreed with Borges. It is a nice thought that our libraries would exist beyond us, but with the current rate of libraries going extinct, especially in the United States, I would have to say that our species, or some devolved illiterate form of it, may outlive our libraries. Of course, when the internet goes black and the electrical grid goes dark, guess who will still have books to read….me! Candlelight was good enough for Honest Abe. It is certainly good enough for me.

”Whosoever would undertake some atrocious enterprise should act as if it were already accomplished, should impose upon himself a future as irrevocable as the past”--The Garden of the Forking Paths. I could have used this advice several times over the course of my business career, when I sold pieces of my soul. To imagine that the act is already done would have eased the moment when the loss is weighed, measured, and excised.

”In all fiction, when a man is faced with alternatives he chooses one at the expense of the others. In the most unfathomable Ts’ui Pen, he chooses--simultaneously--all of them”— The Garden of Forking Paths. I was thinking as I read this how useful it would be to run simulations of several choices that could show me the outcomes, not only of the first decision but the rippling effects of that decision over the next ten years. The interesting thing in watching how people make decisions is that, even if they have the percentages before them of potential success, they will still go with those fabled gut instincts, even though the simulation shows a much lower potential for success. We are a baffling species, naturally distrustful of knowledge.

”What one man does is something done, in some measure, by all men”--The Form of the Sword. The capacity for greatness or horror exists in all of us. To celebrate one is to celebrate all. To condemn one for an act is really, in many ways, condemning us all.

”’The next time I kill you,’ said Scharlach, ‘I promise you the labyrinth made of the single straight line which is invisible and everlasting’”--Death and the Compass. This has got to be one of the most unique death threats I’ve ever heard uttered. If only Clint Eastwood was still making Dirty Harry movies.

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”The time for your work has been granted”--The Secret Miracle. We can only hope, right? I hope Borges accomplished most of what he wanted before the final swing of the glittering scythe. I do want to encourage everyone that, if there is something you know you should be doing, you should get to it. If you have been putting off asking the libidinous (hope springs eternal) librarian out on a date, do it. If you are supposed to be painting, writing, or starting your own business, move the time table up. The sand in the hour glass is flowing faster than you think, and there will be times when it inexplicably speeds up. Carpe Diem!

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Friday, February 1, 2019

Matching Tats

J.M. Snyder
JMS Books
Reviewed by Nancy
4 out of 5 stars


Vic Braunson's latest tattoo makes his lover, Matt diLorenzo, decide that he might want to get inked, too. He'd like a heart with his lover's initials in it. Vic likes the idea, and agrees to get the same tattoo, with Matt's initials inside. They have fun deciding where to put the tattoos -- a spot Vic hasn't already covered turns out to be pretty hard to find.

Once they decide where to get inked, Matt fears he may not be able to go through with it. He's more than a little skittish when it comes to needles, and watching the tattoo artist at work is frightening. With the powers love gives him, however, Vic finds a way to help Matt overcome his fears ...

My Review

Vic and Matt have been together a year and a half. Matt is no longer worried that Vic wants him just for his powers. They still share the ability to communicate telepathically, while Vic’s other powers change depending on their positions during sex. On Vic’s day off from work, he decides to get a facial tattoo. Even though Vic has more tattoos than bare skin, it was the first time Matt got to see one while it’s healing. Matt decides he’d like to get one, even though he’s a wimp when it comes to needles and pain, and both guys agree they’d like to get matching hearts with their initials inside.

When they get to the tattoo parlor and Vic has his done, poor Matt is so frightened he is nearly unable to go through with it. Vic’s soothing thoughts, good loving, and a new power he recently acquired help Matt get through his ordeal.

This story was hot, short, sweet, and a lot of fun!