Friday, March 29, 2019

A Policy of Lies

Astrid Amara
Horns Press
Reviewed by Nancy
4 out of 4 stars


Twenty years ago, Levi Kaszeri survived a brutal rebellion on the mining colony of Tarus 9. Now as an aspiring reporter, Levi has a mission: to expose the massacre to the public, and bring the men responsible to justice.

But after a violent attack, he is rescued—then seduced—by Tiergan Seoras, a young doctor with a dangerous past and a slave tattoo.

Soon Levi finds all of his investigations leading him back to Tiergan. And he begins to fear that the best lover he's ever had may also be his worst enemy.

My Review

I bought this title because I so thoroughly enjoyed Astrid Amara’s fun, sweet, humorous and romantic stories in Tangle.

The fun begins when investigative reporter Levi Kaszeri is walking through the worst district in the city to collect a piece of evidence, a memory implant he needs to complete his story of a massacre that took place on Tarus 9, a mining colony where Levi spent his childhood and where his family was brutally murdered. He is attacked by a mugger and promptly rescued by Tiergen Seoras, a gorgeous doctor with many secrets, who runs a free clinic nearby. Their attraction is instant, and Levi finds his growing relationship with the doctor is complicated by what his investigations reveal.

There is much to like about this story. I loved the future setting and independent space colonies with domed biospheres and simulated seasons. I loved the exploration of corporate crime and abuse. I loved the fast pace and suspenseful scenes and the well-drawn secondary characters.

What frustrated me most was the character of Levi. I expected a bit more “street sense” from someone who managed to survive a brutal massacre as a child and is now working as a reporter which requires a certain amount of discretion and common sense. I was able to figure out who the bad guys were long before Levi did and I really wanted to strangle him for his stupidity. He was so obsessed with revenge for his family’s murder and his sex life that he failed to see there was another side to the story at Tiergan’s peril.

Despite its flaws, I found this story difficult to put down and look forward to more of Astrid Amara’s work.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

From the Mounds

From the MoundsFrom the Mounds by James A. Moore
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

From the Mounds can be downloaded from here for free.

Tusk is a fierce warrior and a king. This is the story of how he became king.

This story was intense. Learning more detail of Tusk's story just shows how insane life is for the people of the Seven Forges and how dedicated they are to their gods. Tusk is terrifying to say it nicely.

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Wednesday, March 27, 2019


American GodsAmerican Gods by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

***Now a celebrated TV series on Starz.***

“‘I read some book about brains,’ she said. ‘My roommate had it and she kept waving it around. It was like, how five thousand years ago the lobes of the brain fused and before that people thought when the right lobe of the brain said anything it was the voice of some god telling them what to do. It’s just brains.’

‘I like my theory better,’ said Shadow.

‘What’s your theory?’

‘That back then people used to run into the gods from time to time.’”

 photo Shadow American Gods_zpsynhfzja0.png
Shadow Moon is played by Ricky Whittle. Excellent casting.

There are few experiences that will teach someone more about himself better than going to prison. It is a microcosm. It is like shoving the world into a shoebox. There are rules, not prison rules, but prisoner rules, and you better get them figured out in a hurry. It is one of the few places remaining where people really have to interact and deal with other people. Inmates learn how to cooperate, or really bad things happen.

Plenty of bad things happen anyway.

Time keeps traveling at a normal rate outside, but inside the box, this minute is the same as the last minute, and when a person emerges from prison, it is like being dropped into a different world because his brain is still shackled in place, in whatever decade he first went into prison. A person spends a lot of time with himself in lockup. They become either a better version of themselves or a horrible twisted version of who they were supposed to be.

Shadow lost his temper and lost three years. He came out of prison probably a better person than who he was going to be. He learned to ignore the bullshit and focus on what was most

The universe is not done fucking with Shadow, not by a long shot. Prison is just the beginning, the burnishing of his character. He barely has made footprints in the dusty highway of his new life when he meets a god. Like it would with any of us, it takes a while for him to really believe he has met a god. This supposed god doesn’t glow or have a thunderous voice. He is abnormal, but in a kooky uncle sort of way, who besides being weird also happens to be a con man. He is frankly...kind...of...annoying.

Gods have fallen on hard times in America.

This god needs Shadow to work for him.

“The land is vast. Soon enough, our people abandoned us, remembered us only as creatures of the old land, as things that had not come with them to the new. Our true believers passed on, or stopped believing, and we were left, lost and scared and dispossessed, to get by on what little smidgens of worship or belief we could find. And to get by as best we could.”

Christianity commits deicide. The whole convert or die thing sort of makes pagans and what would be considered alternative religion types to quickly reevaluate their level of faith in the old gods. It is easier, after all, to focus on one god than figuring out the pantheon of gods they were trying to please before the first bedraggled priest washed up on the shores of their community. Christianity simplified faith. This left all the old gods, used to receiving tasty animal sacrifices, fresh fruits, virgins, bereft of not only sustenance but

We brought these gods to America with us and then abandoned them.

The new gods who are putting the final nail in their celestial coffins are the new deities, such as internet, media, and cell phones. They hurl insults like these: “You-you’re a fucking illuminated gothic black-letter manuscript. You couldn’t be hypertext if you tried. I’m…I’m synaptic, while, while you’re synoptic…” It is hard to be insulted by a compliment, isn’t it? These new gods are even starting to chip away at the strong foothold that Christianity has on the minds of the American people. If he doesn’t watch out, JC is going to be bumming rides from truckers on the interstate and hoping for the kindness of his former people, eyes focused like zombies on the screens before them, for a handout.

Not to mention the fact that Shadow has televisions asking him, ”Do you want to see Lucy’s tits?”

I’d explain that, but it is more fun for you to find out for yourself.

Needless to say, things are dire.

 photo Mr. Wednesday American Gods_zpszvgemaki.jpg
Ian McShane plays Mr. Wednesday, brilliantly of course.

Shadow’s boss, Mr. Wednesday, you can probably figure out who he is, decides it is time to wipe the new kids off the block (a version of Titan vs Olympian) and seize the power the old gods so passively let slide through their fingers. Shadow is caught right in the damn middle of it. He is Odysseus in the midst of the Trojan War.

Shadow naturally asks himself, why me?

When Neil Gaiman first submitted this book for publication, his editor/publisher suggested that he cut 12,000 words out of the manuscript. If you are having deja vu feelings of The Stand by Stephen King, you are on the right fright frequency. Gaiman won a plethora of awards for American Gods, so how can you argue that the cuts weren’t a good idea? The thing is, those orphaned 12,000 words were still whispering to Gaiman, and when the decision was made to put out a tenth anniversary edition, he decided it was time to put the kids back with their parents. I would highly suggest reading the 10th anniversary edition. I do not feel the book is bloated. All the scenes are relevant to the larger arc of the plot. I would be nervous to lose the experience of reading any part of this book.

I was skeptical when I began reading this book. Gaiman introduces these gods from different cultures and does not exactly explain who any of them are, or at times he is even being cagey with their names. He is expecting a certain sophistication from his readers that is not only refreshing, but startlingly bold. I thought, in the beginning, that he has the Stephen King magic figured out with the easy accessibility of the writing and enough interesting factoids to make people feel like they are learning something as they work their way through the plot. He has those things, but he doesn’t just let us dog paddle on the surface of the water. He snags our ankles and thrusts us deeper beneath the waves to where things get dark, and we have no choice but to examine ourselves in the context of this story.

And what a pleasant surprise it has been.

”Fiction allows us to slide into these other heads, these other places, and look out through other eyes. And then in the tale we stop before we die, or we die vicariously and unharmed, and in the world beyond the tale we turn the page or close the book, and we resume our lives.”

With books like this, we resume a richer life.

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Friday, March 22, 2019


Edited by Lou Anders
Roc Books
Reviewed by Nancy
3 out of 5 stars


In this stunning collection of short fiction, 16 of today's masters of speculative fiction reveal the terrors, triumphs, and seeming impossibilities awaiting humanity in the years to come. Featuring never-before-published stories by Kevin J. Anderson, Paul Di Filippo, Alan Dean Foster, CaitlĂ­n R. Kiernan, Louise Marley, Sean McMullen, John Meaney, Paul Melko, Robert A. Metzger, Chris Roberson, Adam Roberts,Mike Resnick & Harry Turtledove, Robert J. Sawyer, and Robert Charles Wilson.

My Review

Overall, an enjoyable collection of stories that offers diverse visions of the future.

★★★★★ Shuteye for the Timebroker by Paul DiFilippo – One of my favorites in this collection. An exploration of the effects of anti-somnolence drugs on a near-future society. Sure, people can increase their effectiveness and accomplish more, but there is always a price to pay.

★★ Looking Through Mother’s Eyes by John Meaney – Told from the perspective of a newborn who is aware of its own birth and the effects on both parents. Nicely written, but kind of icky. I don’t enjoy stories about pregnancy.

★★★★ The Man Who Knew Too Much by Alan Dean Foster – In the future, acquiring knowledge is as simple as downloading data directly to your brain. There is a limit, however, to how much information one’s brain can process at once. In the hands of specialists, knowledge is disseminated gradually without danger to the recipient. Some people, however, are just not satisfied and crave all the world’s knowledge much as an addict craves drugs.

★★★ The Engines of Arcadia by Sean McMullen – A man builds a time machine to escape his dull, safe life only to find that millions of years later, some things never change.

★★★★ The Pearl Diver by Caitlin R. Kiernan – Recurring dreams, the consequences of deleting unread company correspondence, and transformation. A sad and lovely story.

★★★ Before the Beginning by Mike Resnick & Harry Turtledove – A humorous story that shows why God’s chosen people have lasted so long.

★★★★ Man You Gotta Go by Adam Roberts – An AI is enlisted to help solve the problem of FTL travel. Human consciousness becomes obsolete. A little long and drawn out, but interesting and thought provoking.

★★ Homosexuals Damned, Film at Eleven by Alex Irvine – A bleak and sad story that portrays the downside of living in a theocracy. A geneticist who attempted to save the life of his son fears he may have caused his death. I may have liked this story better if it was longer and the characters more developed.

★★★★Contagion by Chris Roberson – Jaidev Hark is a Vector employed to carry data-encoded retroviruses in his blood. He lives in a society divided by castes; the higher the caste, the more they can afford protection from disease. Pursued by data-thieves, he reveals to his employer that they are looking for Panacea, the mythical (or is it?) cure of every human infirmity. In order to survive, he goes to work for the other side. This is a thought-provoking story that makes me wonder about the dreadful state of our health care system and if we will ever achieve affordability and equity.

★★★★Absalom’s Mother by Louise Marley – This hard-hitting and powerful story moved me to tears. In a society where children as young as 11 are drafted for service, a group of mothers hides their children and volunteers to go in their place. The characters are strong, rich, and vibrant.

★★★Job Qualifications by Kevin J. Anderson – Politicians have to work hard to be all things to all people. In the distant future, Berthold Ossequin’s clones help to make him a more suitable candidate for grand chancellor of the United Cultures of Earth.

★★★★The Teosinte War by Paul Melko – After reading Melko’s novel, The Walls of the Universe, I knew I could count on him to write a fun and thought-provoking story about the bad things that could happen when an ambitious professor uses an MWD to mess around in other universes and involves his TA, Ryan Greene. Though Ryan is kind of a jerk, he is ultimately a sympathetic character as he witnesses one disaster after another and learns that one can’t play God.

★★Slip by Robert A. Metzger – Getting what you ask for doesn’t always result in a positive outcome.

★★All’s Well at World’s End by Howard V. Hendrix – Memory erasure, annihilation. It would have been more interesting if too many scientific terms hadn’t made my eyes glaze over.

★★★★Flashes by Robert J. Sawyer – Unlimited information from a technically advanced alien planet renders human knowledge and theories obsolete. This gripping and sad little story explores the dire consequences of information overload.

★★★★The Cartesian Theater by Robert Charles Wilson – A performance artist uses advanced technology to duplicate living creatures. This chilling story explores life, death, and the question of the soul’s existence.

Thursday, March 21, 2019


Scars (Seven Forges, #1.3)Scars by James A. Moore
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Read Scars here for free

While Wollis March escorted the people of the Seven Forges to the Empire, they discussed their scars. I wish I could write more, but that's basically all that happened.

2.5 out of 5 stars

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Wednesday, March 20, 2019


The Prone GunmanThe Prone Gunman by Jean-Patrick Manchette
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

”’Basically,’ said Maubert, ‘anyone could do your job. I bet they pay you well, but anyone could do it. You’re paid for running the risk. For the responsibility. I mean, if you’re nabbed one day, you’re nabbed as a killer--that’s what I mean when I say risk. They don’t pay you for your skills.’”

Martin Terrier is a hired killer who decides it is time to retire. He had, before venturing out in his chosen profession, elicited a promise from his childhood sweetheart, Anne, to wait for him. He will return in ten years.

Now unless you are going off to fight the Trojan Wars and your sweetheart is Penelope, the chances of any person waiting for anyone to reappear after ten years is somewhere south of zero. If you have seen the movie Before Sunrise, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy have trouble hooking back up after a year apart. Even if Anne is a woman of immense fortitude and stoically waited for ten years,...Martin is a bit late.

Things in his life do not go as planned.

Killing for hire doesn’t come with a retirement plan. In fact, “The Company” he works for is reluctant to let him go. He is, after all, a ticking time bomb of knowledge. He has the type of information knocking around in his brain that a government would pay large sums for or they may just toss him in a dank hole in some undisclosed location in some third world country willing to look the other way as they explore his ability to be reticent.

First problem is that The Company is not going to just let him walk off into the sunset. The second problem is that Anne is married. She will not go down in literary history as the woman who waited. She didn’t wait years, nor months, barely a matter of weeks. Out of sight, out of mind, and I’m not sure that Martin deserved any more consideration than what she gave him.

The reunion is...interesting.

”Terrier gave her an ironic smile and poured her a stiff shot of J&B. Anne sighed and sat down on the bed. She took a sip. Terrier sat down next to her, took her by the head, and kissed her. She let him do it. Her mouth was passive, studious, plump, and tasted like scotch.

‘Stop,’ she whispered after Terrier released her.


She took off almost all her clothes.

‘The panties, too,’ said Terrier.”

Jean-Patrick Manchette is a student of hardboiled noir, and as you can see from this example, he must have had grit in his teeth at the end of each day of writing. I love the description of her mouth. When I look at synonyms of the word studious, which seems like an odd descriptive term to put with passive, there are several interesting interpretations of what he could mean with the use of that word.

I also find it interesting that Martin’s favorite drink is J&B Scotch, which also happens to be the drink of choice of Patrick Bateman in American Psycho. Is there some correlation between drinking J&B and having murderous impulses? I’ve never drank J&B, but I may have to snag a bottle the next time my wife is safely out of town for the weekend and see if I start to develop fiendish ideas in a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde sort of way.

If you love the hardboiled genre, you can not ignore Manchette. He pares down all the excess baggage in every sentence he writes. His books are short, clean, and laced with the right amount of cynicism. He is the French response to Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. So grab a bottle of J&B (well, you might wait until we see how my experiment goes first. :-)), and look through the crosshairs with Martin Terrier for a few hours.

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Sunday, March 17, 2019

Dan Stout's "Titanshade" is a winning combo of cop investigating murder on an alien planet with magical elements

What do you get when you mix alien murder, dark world building, a retro 70’s aesthetic and elements of magic and science fiction?  If you are lucky, you will be reading “Titanshade”, Dan Stout’s entertaining debut novel which combines politics, murder, aliens, magic and a charging plot in a boomtown city on the edge of catastrophe. It’s a mix of cop cars and dying magic, disco music and necromancy.  And a great portrait of a cop who lives for the hunt and solving crimes.  Stout’s gritty hero is Carter, a homicide cop, who is always in trouble with the brass, but finds the investigation of the murder of a Squib diplomat has far reaching consequences for his city and the people who live there.  Stout’s writing is spot on and the noir detective story with magic and modern technology works really well.

The Squibs are an alien amphibian race who live and work in Titanshade, a boomtown, which has been awash in a sea of greenbacks from the discovery and oil drilling.  But what happens when the oil runs out.  Cities try to get a new investment and reinvent themselves. Titanshade is deep in negotiations with a Squib delegation, who are interested in making a new investment in Titanshade by turning the oil fields into wind farms, when one of the members turns up dead in a sleazy hotel. This is not a novel for the squeamish, as the victim seems to have been involved heavily with human and other alien prostitutes.

Carter has been joined on the case by Ajax, a young Mollenkampi, another alien race that made its home in Titanshade.  As part of the investigation, Carter calls on the services of DO Guyer, a magic user, who can, with the use of manna, examine the entrails of a dead person or even call up the dead through a type of necromancy.  Manna, a magical substance used to power spells, that once was abundant in Titanshade, is also disappearing from the city, making all magical spells much more expensive. As a reader, unless you are in a world of total magic, the less magic that is used in a world the more believable the world becomes. Magic is like having a superhero run rampant through your story. So Stout’s limited use of magic in the story increases the velocity of the cop elements of the story by focusing it on investigation and not miraculous cures.

The Titanshade elites want the investigation wrapped up quickly, but Carter will not be pushed into arresting the wrong perp.  And there are a lot of crimes going on. An entire family is murdered. Is it connected?  The elites want it to be.  And there are a lot of power players.  Ambassador Paulus, a leader, and prime magic user in the government and her assistant, the diplomatic envoy Gellica, who has her own secrets, soon reveal themselves to be involved in some way.  Harlan Cedrow, the current head of one of the old oil families, who has the most to lose from the oil field devastation,  and there is Flanagan, a disgraced ex-cop, who has fallen in with a religious cult.  Carter takes a flame thrower approach, everyone who touches the investigation is burned.

Stout mixes all of the elements well and sets his bulldog investigator to follow the clues to the killer. It’s a complex investigation, but Carter is not going to walk away. 

This is what we as readers want in a cop story set in an alien landscape peopled with interesting characters and situations.

It is a find. Go discover it.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Blind Blondie

Scarlet Blackwell
eXtasy Books
Reviewed by Nancy
4 out of 5 stars


Artist and playboy beach bum Sam's life is turned around when he meets blind Kieran and falls hard for him. Kieran is fiercely independent and doesn't need a man like Sam in his life. But Sam needs a man like Kieran and it's up to him to persuade Kieran he's worth a shot.

My Review

This story is told by Sam, who happens to be cruising down Main Street in the summer, catching glimpses of the gorgeous male bodies strolling around. Right away he spots Blondie, carrying a walking stick and using a sign to hail a taxi.

Sam pulls over and learns Blondie is on his way to the animal hospital. Blondie is gorgeous, but Sam doesn’t need the hassle of dealing with a blind guy or his dog, so he drops him off, never expecting to see him again.

Blondie knows Sam is no cab driver and calls the cops to prevent him from picking up other vulnerable people. After the cops pay him a visit, Sam is furious with Blondie and knows he should forget about him, but it’s just not happening.

Sam continues to pursue Blondie and is rejected at every turn. It takes a lot more than bribing a prickly concierge, a dog toy, flowers, and gifts to warm Kieran’s heart and melt his resistance. Kieran is perfectly capable of taking care of himself and knows that very few men are interested in dating a disabled guy. Sam is persistent, however, and won’t give up until Kieran relents.

Sam is a fun-loving, slutty guy with a big ego. He’s also a very talented artist who lacks ambition. He is starting to fall for Kieran and must prove to him that he can be the kind of man Kieran deserves. It’s a tough challenge for Sam, but he gradually changes and matures. Kieran is a tough nut to crack and it takes a tragedy to finally make him see that Sam is perfect for him in every way.

I loved Sam’s inner thoughts, his artistic expression, Kieran’s dog, and the kinky sex.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable, funny, sweet and heartwarming romance. Blind guys need love too.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

When Korwa Fell

When Korwa Fell (Seven Forges, #1.2)When Korwa Fell by James A. Moore
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Read for free here

Korwa was the capital of the old empire and it's remains are within the blasted lands. The is a story from the people of the Seven Forges about the fall of Korwa.

On its own When Korwa Fell seems largely unimportant. Perhaps after finishing the series the details of this short story will take on greater importance. As it stands the short story seems to simply be a story shared between the people of the forges.

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Saturday, March 9, 2019

"Crisis" by Felix Francis is a good murder mystery in the vein of Dick Francis, just not as good

What if Dick Francis never wrote novels and what you started with was a Felix Francis novel. When do we stop comparing the son to the father. Their styles are completely different. Dick Francis wrote in your face, mano a mano novels where the hero set out to defeat a evil plot in the horse racing world, typically taking the evildoers to the cleaners himself, but not before he faced extreme pressure to give up. As I have said before, a Felix Francis books lacks the early Dick Francis's pacing, wording and ties to horse racing, but he does know how to paint the numbers. He has overcome the stylistic differences between his writing in some instances. I felt, however, that this was not one of them.

"Crisis", Felix Francis latest murder mystery set tangentially in the English horse racing world, has a good little murder mystery at its heart and a decent hero sort, who shows some spine and lust. But this is just a good book, nothing spectacular and maybe that is what we should continue to look forward to.

There is a lot of good horse racing information. From a brief walk through of an auctioneer area, to morning gallops of the trainers and information about signing horses up for runs. But the information is dropped (info dump style) in as if we are observing from afar or reading something written just to be inserted therein. It lacks punch and vitality. In one instance, the info dump does not even advance the story at all.

Harrison Foster, the nattily dressed hero is a "crisis manager", who is investigating the death of seven horses trained by Ryan Chadwick at a training yard that used to be owned by his father Oliver Chadwick. Tony Chadwick is a jockey who rides for the family. The horses are owned by Foster's client Sheikh Karim. He soon learns that human remains were found at the scene of the fire, and picks up another client, Declan Chadwick, Ryan's brother who is suspected of killing the victim, who turns out to be a relative of the Chadwick men.

While the early going of the book establishes Foster's bona fides and that he knows nothing about the horse racing world, it takes a little time to do so, but reads okay.

But Francis's book bogs down in the middle because he telegraphs "Why" the victim of the crime was suffering psychotic episodes way too early and the "Who" is limited to just a small coterie  of the Chadwick men Also, the novel feels a little too soap opera like. Feuding brothers, dominating father, cowed mothers, women in their cups way too early in the morning, the tropes are standard mystery fare.

Its been said many times that Dick Francis mostly failed to have female love interests in his novels. But Felix Francis has never been shy to include some love interest, so this book also has Foster finding true love.

Foster will be stuck in a barn with a violent horse, and has all the spine of previous Francis heroes and will have to use some wit to figure out the killer but it takes a long time coming.

Not my favorite read.

But if you never read a Dick Francis novel, maybe you will be satisfied with this work.

But for the rest of us, its a good mystery, but not a "Dick Francis Novel"

With This Ring

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


Matt diLorenzo’s ex, Jordan, confesses all to a tabloid, telling the world Matt’s secret—something in his semen gives his sexual partners super powers. After the article appears, Matt expects all sorts of weirdos to try to track him down, but the only call he receives is from a research scientist at a local condom factory who claims to have a solution to his little “problem.”

The offer is tempting, since the powers Vic Braunson receives from Matt during their lovemaking sessions are unpredictable and scary. Matt wants to keep his lover safe, and is eager to hear what the scientist has to suggest. And Vic is willing to try the cure and lose his superhero abilities for his lover’s peace of mind...even if it means losing the special mental connection they share, a bond formed by the powers, a bond that has become such a part of their lives that neither is quite prepared when it suddenly disappears.

Then Vic discovers that the scientist has an agenda of his own. Can he protect Matt, even without his super strength or their mental bond?

My Review

After 5 years together, Vic grew accustomed to the superpowers bestowed on him every time he and Matt made love. Matt worried that his powers would eventually harm Vic. When an Indian researcher reads about Matt’s superpowers in a tabloid magazine, he contacts him and offers a cure. Matt wants to get rid of the powers and live a normal life, so he willingly accepts the offer.

The cure works, but neither man is prepared to deal with the fact that they can no longer communicate telepathically. Doubt and insecurity creep in until Matt decides to visit the doctor so he can make an adjustment to the “ring” that would allow Matt and Vic to keep the telepathic powers, while ridding themselves of the other undesirable ones.

As Matt will soon learn, the “doctor” is not what he appears to be. Vic will have to use every means at his disposal, minus his superpowers, to save Matt from a potentially dangerous situation.

I really enjoyed this fourth installment in the Powers of Love series. Vic's and Matt’s growing love for each other is always very sweet and satisfying. It was nice to see Vic’s boss has a softer and more compassionate side, and I loved how Matt fought off the security guards roughing up Vic.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

The Wounded

The Wounded (Seven Forges, #1.1)The Wounded by James A. Moore
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Read The Wounded here for free.

Kallir Lundt was mortally wounded on the expedition to the Seven Forges. One of the king's of the forge promises Merros Dulver that he will save Kallir's life. This is Kallir's story.

The Wounded was a quick and decent read. I imagine that at one point the author may have wanted to feature Kallir Lundt as a point of view character, but instead changed his mind. This reads like a chapter or two of the story. Anyone who read Seven Forges can easily imagine what happens to Kallir. Unfortunately the story doesn't extend past what can easily be predicted.

The Wounded is a nice free short story that expands the Seven Forges world a small bit more.

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Wednesday, March 6, 2019


American PsychoAmerican Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

”...there is an idea of a Patrick Bateman, some kind of abstraction, but there is no real me, only an entity, something illusory, and though I can hide my cold gaze and you can shake my hand and feel flesh gripping yours and maybe you can even sense our lifestyles are probably comparable: I simply am not there. It is hard for me to make sense on any given level. Myself is fabricated, an aberration. I am a noncontingent human being. My personality is sketchy and unformed, my heartlessness goes deep and is persistent. My conscience, my pity, my hopes disappeared a long time ago (probably at Harvard) if they ever did exist. There are no barriers to cross. All I have in common with the uncontrollable and the insane, the vicious and the evil, all the mayhem I have caused and my utter indifference toward it I have now surpassed. I still, though, hold onto one single bleak truth: no one is safe, nothing is redeemed. Yet I am blameless. Each model of human behavior must be assumed to have some validity. Is evil something you are? Or is it something you do?”

I let Keeten finish putting in that quote before I popped him in the head with his own tire thumper. Oblivious fucking bastard, so caught up in words that he didn’t even hear the soft tread of the boogeyman.

You want to talk to him? Well, fuck you. You’ve got me.

Anyway, he’s a little tied up right now. Hardy har har har!

If you are worried about him, you should be.

For now, I feel under control. I washed down a handful of Valium with a couple of J&Bs to create a euphoria of calm before I popped the lock on his sliding glass door.

I’m looking at this bum. Is this how normal people dress? He’s wearing black Timberland boots, faded Land’s End jeans, a crimson red Out of Print T-shirt of the Odyssey, and a purple, wrinkled Territory Ahead button-down shirt. Homeless people in New York dress with better class than this guy.

Fashion is everything, well, and great hair products.

Here’s an example of a guy who knows how to dress. I must confess I killed him. I mean, just having great taste in clothing is never going to be enough to save

”Paul Owen walks in wearing a cashmere one-button sports jacket, tropical wool flannel slacks, a button-down tab-collared shirt by Ronaldus Shamask, but it’s really the tie--blue and black and red and yellow bold strips from Andrew Fezz by Zanzarra--that impresses me.”

Or how about this fine description of a hardbody who has a fine eye for great clothes. You have to love those sculpted bodies of these rich bitches, who have all the time in the world to turn their figures into works of art.

”She’s wearing a red, purple and black hand-knitted mohair and wool sweater from Koos Van Den Akker Couture and slacks from Anne Klein, with suede open-toe pumps.”

For this visitation to the land of cows, I still dressed nice, even though I’m running the risk of getting blood on some very, very fine cloth.

“I’m wearing a six-button double-breasted chalk-striped wool suit and a patterned silk tie, both by Louis, Boston, and a cotton oxford cloth shirt by Luciano Barbera.”

I smell good, too. I just checked in the mirror, and my hair looks fucking amazing. I should buy this guy a nice suit. I’ll put it on my platinum American Express card. The rubes will pogo stick around the store when I bring that out of my. . . . Jesus, he needs a real haircut, too. I ask him, jokingly, if he cuts his own hair. He nods his head.


So why am I here in Kansas, you might ask? I’m choosing to make that a bigger question because I’m holding the tire thumper. Haha! Well my friends, I am drawn this way. I come out of the sickest depths of Bret Easton Ellis’s demented mind. In other words, I’m created in the image of God.

Who am I?
Who am I?
I’m you!

We are marginally different, but the rage that is in me is in you. Maybe you haven’t tapped into it yet, but you may when you least expect it. I do understand that we may see different things in clouds, for instance. ”When we look up at the clouds she sees an island, a puppy dog, Alaska, a tulip. I see, but don’t tell her, a Gucci money clip, an ax, a woman cut in two, a large puffy white puddle of blood that spreads across the sky, dripping over the city, onto Manhattan.”

I understand I’m a bit more depraved than you are, but I’m wealthy. I’m incredibly handsome. I’m a fashion intelligencia. I’m way smarter than you. I have a larger responsibility to approach the world with a greater degree of honesty.

”This is no time for the innocent.”

Everyone deserves to die, especially this moron reviewer who thought he was going to write a fucking review of my fucking book today.


Look at this passage he noted.

”If she likes me only for my muscles, the heft of my cock, then she’s a shallow bitch. But a physically superior, near-perfect-looking shallow bitch, and that can override anything…”

I don’t like him making notes about Courtney. I rip aside the duct tape on his mouth, which had to fucking hurt, and asked him, WTF?

“I was going to make a point about you complaining about the shallowness of what Courtney liked best about you, but you are a hypocrite because what you like about her is just as shallow as what she likes about you. Plus, you would need more depth for her to appreciate something else about you.”

Can you believe that? I’m writing it just like he said it; then I bash him with the club a couple of times. I think I heard something snap. Fuck! I’m really trying not to lose control here. I have to put the tape back on his mouth because he is hollering with too much volume. Whimpering is fine, even encouraged, but there is no sound proofing all the walls, so we can’t be screaming. I really much prefer the way women scream. The tenor of their voices trips the light fantastic in my head.

How many people have I killed? Well, too many to count. It is amazing what you can get away with when you have as much money as I do and look like I do. People are begging to spend time with me. It seems to me like they are begging to be dismembered, burned with acid, eviscerated.

We do have a few things that we need to get straight, and then I need to head back to New York. I’ve got some video tapes that need to be returned, and the late fees are fucking outrageous.

Huey Lewis and the News is the greatest American rock band...ever. Indisputable. I notice that Keeten has the greatest hits, which earns him a painful bash to the knee. You have to buy the complete albums. The rest of their songs are as important and fantastic as their hits.

Second, Donald J. Trump is a genius. I admire him more than anyone else on the planet. It takes a psycho to recognize a psycho. As far as I know, he is keeping it together, but I feel a kinship with him, a calling in the blood. Haha! did he ever pull the Art of the Deal on all of you.

Okay, so you see that I am fair. I let Keeten participate in the writing of this review, but I just can’t let him do it alone. I was sitting in my apartment, gazing with fascination at my favorite vagina, the one with the Hermes blue ribbon tied around it, and thinking, I’m not going to let this hayseed from Kansas write a review about me. I caught a plane, and here I am.

I’m thinking about taking one of his fingers to nibble on during the flight back, so... maybe... I can get to New York without murdering anyone.

You’d give up a finger if it meant saving some other poor innocent life, wouldn’t you Keeten?

So you think you want to read this book? HA! Ellis, the sick bastard, did not spare the grotesque descriptions of my activities. In fact, I read the damn book, and even I was starting to yawn a bit through all the blood and mayhem. I think he made his point about what kind of depraved monster, a true creature of God, I am WAY before he quit relating yet another senseless death. And yes, I know they are senseless because not one of my victims has quelled the beast. Blood only begets more blood.

Don’t hate me. I’m just a product of the entitlement system. I appreciate it that you all let me be me. Your ability to live with letting my madness run rampant means you are actually more insane than I am.

Something for all of you to keep in mind...Patrick Bateman is still out here. Yes, I’m alive and frankly very fit looking. The tanning bed is a wonderful investment. I bought the same one as Donald. If you have a hardbody, come to New York. Look me up. I’ll take you out on the town and show you something you’ve never seen before.

I see from the notes here on the desk that Keeten is going to call this a Masterpiece.

He isn’t looking so sure anymore. He’s looking a bit gray, and some blood has trickled out from beneath the duct tape. I used the tape from his garage. It obviously isn’t as good as the brand I normally like to use. *Sigh*

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Friday, March 1, 2019

Plan B

S.J.D. Peterson
Dreamspinner Press
Reviewed by Nancy
5 out of 5 stars


Danny Marshal has always lived his life out loud, but his androgynous appearance is only a small part of who he is. One night at a frat party, Danny meets Lance Lenard, football jock and apparent straight guy. Lance is shocked when he's immediately attracted to Danny's feminine side. Danny is happy to be the subject of Lance's first man-on-man experiment—until Lance begins to struggle with the fact that despite his appearance, Danny is indeed a man.

Lance's whole life has been focused on his goal of playing in the NFL, and he knows those dreams will be smashed if anyone finds out about his little secret. Although Lance has come to hunger for Danny's touch, he's not willing to give Danny what he's grown to crave: a boyfriend who's proud to love him for every flamboyant and snarky cell in his body.

Life sends Danny and Lance in different directions, each of them focused on his respective Plan A. But the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.

My Review

Danny is such a girl:

“I grabbed my new white, waist-length coat with black fur trim around the hood and slipped it on. Yes, I’d bought it in the junior girls’ section and I fucking loved it. All soft and snuggly. Loved the way the fur felt around my face when I put up the hood. I’m a very tactile, as well as visual, guy.”

But there’s no question he’s all man:

“Sure, I took some ribbing for it, a few nasty insults tossed my way here and there when I walked by, even had some old guy ask me if I was a boy or girl. I answered by cupping the bulge in my pink skinny jeans and asking, “Would you like me to show you?””

After my disappointing experience with The Girl For Me, I was a little worried that I wouldn’t enjoy this story. There were lots of similarities in the plot, even in the main character’s name. It turns out my worries were unfounded. This story was told beautifully, with lots of humor and heart. Right from the beginning, I fell in love with Danny.

Danny is a busy theater major who doesn’t do relationships. He has big plans for the future, and no time for anything more than casual encounters. That all changes when he attends a frat party with his best friend, Bo, and is captivated by the rugged and muscular Lance, whose goal is to be a big football star.

Though Lance is very attracted to Danny, he sure has a funny way of showing it. He behaved terribly at the party and I’ll admit I didn’t like the way he treated Danny in the beginning. But Danny’s no pushover and he gave as good as he got. I love their relationship buildup and Lance’s conflicting feelings. He’s deep in the closet and not yet ready to take the next step in their relationship. It’s too late for Danny, as his heart is now involved.

Both men are young, selfish, and wildly immature at times. They make decisions hastily which creates a lot of unnecessary turmoil in their relationship, but what can you expect from 21-year-old college students? Since this story was told from Danny’s perspective, I could feel his emotions keenly, reminding me of the confusion and chaos of my own young life. I loved Danny and Lance, Bo and his girlfriend, Katie, and all the fully developed colorful supporting characters. The tense, heartbreaking and sad moments made the ending so sweet and satisfying. This story was a joy to read.