the well-written kind...
e-mail me!!

zechs, reading
[ note: like I could resist using this image... ]

My all time favourite books. You may notice that most of these books are homoerotic in nature. Hmmm... imagine that... ^_~

Yes, yes -- my opinion. If you don't agree with it... make your own damn page.

[ note: *ahem* seeing as how I find summaries so damnably difficult to write, I've *ahem again* swiped those of others, at times. In the unlikely event that you come across this page, see your own words staring back at you, and get a mite upset, just let me know and I shall remove them,
posthaste. ]

-- Dacia

title = gay-themed; glossy sex, or none at all

= gay-themed; graphic sex

[ note: a few books on this list may be labeled incorrectly as it's been a while since I've read some of these... ]

title = not gay-themed *gasp*

::. * .::

>> books you'd have to pry from my cold, dead fingers...
>> books that... I really, really like ^_~
>> books well worth reading
>> for you to decide
>> jumped up novellas (aka small pub. books)
>> run away! run away!

books are listed by the authors' last name

::. * .::
last updated: 23 March 08
new review

Comfort and Joy -- Jim Grimsley
back cover --> "Ford McKinney is a handsome, successful doctor raised in a well-to-do Savannah family. His longtime boyfriend, Dan Krell, is a shy hospital administrator with a painful childhood past. When the holidays arrive, they decide it's time to go home together. But the depth of their commitment is tested when Ford's parents cannot reconcile themselves to their son's choices and long-kept family secret are revealed by a visit to Dan's mother.

Comfort and Joy is a poetic and finely wrought novel that explores the difficult journey two men make towards love."

This book was not at all what I expected. I expected the everyday. After all, it seems a fairly average idea for a gay book. There are those magical times, though, when you again realize that the sign of a truly good book is not just what is said, but how. Grimsley's use of the English language, employed in a totally different way than in Kirith Kirin, is more poetry that prose, and the effect is truly remarkable. The love in this book is never easy in its reality, but it is downright beautiful in its portrayal. [ note: the story of Dan's traumatic childhood, alluded to in this book, is told in Winter Birds. ]

::. .::

>> books you'd have to pry from my cold, dead fingers...

Wingmen -- Ensan Case [ out-of-print ] / [ historical - ww II ]
back cover --> "Jack Hardigan's Hellcat fighter squadron blew Japanese Zekes out of the blazing Pacific skies. But a more subtle kind of hell was brewing in his feelings for rookie pilot Fred Trusteau. As another wingman watches---and waits for the beautiful woman who loves Jack---Hardigan and Trusteau cut a fiery swath through the skies from Wake Island to Tarawa to Truk, there to keep a fateful rendezvous with love and death in the blood-clouded waters of the Pacific."

I LOVE this book. No, seriously. I have 2 copies of it (just in case... ). Its subtlety is sublime and its characters so well-rounded that they're real.

Dhalgren -- Samuel Delaney [ sci fi ]
"What is Dhalgren? Dhalgren is one of the greatest novels of 20th-century American literature. Dhalgren is one of the all-time bestselling science fiction novels. Dhalgren may be read with equal validity as SF, magic realism, or metafiction. Dhalgren is controversial, challenging, and scandalous. Dhalgren is a brilliant novel about sex, gender, race, class, art, and identity.

A mysterious disaster has stricken the midwestern American city of Bellona, and its aftereffects are disturbing: a city block burns down and is intact a week later; clouds cover the sky for weeks, then part to reveal two moons; a week passes for one person when only a day passes for another. The catastrophe is confined to Bellona, and most of the inhabitants have fled. But others are drawn to the devastated city, among them the Kid, a white/American Indian man who can't remember his own name. The Kid is emblematic of those who live in the new Bellona, who are the young, the poor, the mad, the violent, the outcast--the marginalized.

Dhalgren is many things, but instantly accessible isn't one of them. While most of this big, ambitious, deeply detailed novel is beautifully pellucid, the opening pages will be difficult for some: the novel starts with the second half of an incomplete sentence, in the viewpoint of a man who doesn't know who he is. If you find the early pages rough going, push on; the story soon becomes clear and fascinating. But--fair warning--the central nature of the disaster, of its strange devastations and disruptions, remains a puzzle for many readers, sometimes after several readings." -- review

The Carnivorous Lamb -- Augustin Gomez-Arcos [ out-of-print ] / [ incest ] / [ historical - aftermath of the Spanish civil war ]
"The Carnivorous Lamb unfolds itself like a particularly lovely, intricate, and satisfying dream. Things that at first appear to be matter-of-fact reveal themselves to be larger metaphors for politics, philosophy, social atmospheres, and religion, in prose both decadent and surreal. At heart this is a love story: love between brothers, literally and figuratively." -- reviewer

Brethren: Raised by Wolves, and its sequel, Matelots: Raised By Wolves, Volume Two (of a proposed 4) -- W. A. Hoffman [historical fiction]
back cover--> "1667---Romance in the west Indies. Wherein, the Viscount of Marsdale, duelist, libertine, dilettante, and haphazard philanthropist, travels to the colony of Jamaica to establish a sugar plantation for his estranged father. Once there, he finds he has much in common with the buccaneers of Port Royal. Thus he joins them and learns of the strange traditions, tactics, and customs of the Brethren of the Coast. Falling in love, he partners with Gaston, the mysterious French madman known as The Ghoul, and discovers another as noble, disenfranchised,and scarred as himself. Together, they explore an end to loneliness, and seek to exorcise the demons of their pasts, in a wilderness torn by war and ambition."

I can literally say no wrong about these books. When I move them from 'new reviews' to their proper place in this list, they will be the first in over 10 years to head straight to the 'pry from my cold, dead fingers' category. Not only are they emotionally entangling, but, it turns out, they are based in such a depth of historical fact that, my god, no wonder I was so entranced. The rest of the world is hell bent on pirates due to Johhny Depp and Co. I am somewhat embarrassed to admit that I have given into a fascination with pirates, as well, but the cause is, instead, Raised By Wolves.

Chrome -- George Nader [ out-of-print ] / [ sci fi ]
"A book for all readers, gay or not. It does, without making it's efforts obvious, bridge the gap between futuristic Sci-fi and the age old art of boy meets boy, boy falls in love. The mystery of the machine man, is he or is he not, only adds to the entire enjoyment of the book. To my enormous relief, this was a really great book, not [merely] a really great gay book. I read it over 15 years ago and still find it mesmerizing as I re-read it for the 3rd time." -- reviewer

The Charioteer -- Mary Renault [ historical - ww II ]
"The complicated romances of closeted gay men in England at the height of World War II seems an unlikely subject, but Renault endows The Charioteer with such depth of perception that virtually any reader will be fascinated by her story of three young men who strive to reconcile the frequently opposing forces of sex, love, and personal integrity in their lives and relationships. Considerably more than just a 'gay love story,'Renault's novel examines what it means to be completely honest and completely fair in even the most difficult of relationships at even the most difficult moments of life.

Written with both on-the-surface (as in the myth of the Charioteer) and covert (it is no accident that many of the characters are in some way physically damaged, or that the story is set during England's darkest hours of the war) symbolism, Renault's novel encourages the reader to take time over it. Although sometimes demanding, the book casts a spell; I can honestly say that I did not want it to end, but I wanted to know more about what the future held for the characters. It is a book to which readers will return again and again." -- reviewer

Sandel -- Angus Stewart [ out-of-print --> your best bet is a library. copies of this novel are upwards of $400... ]
"Angus Stewart's novel 'Sandel' was first published in 1968. I found the paperback edition in 1971, in a standard Australian bookshop. Strangely enough, at that time, I was the same age (19) as David Rogers - one of the main characters; but it's the protaganist: Anthony Sandel, who's the real star-player in this extraordinary novel. Mr Stewart's ability to create such vivid images in the reader's mind is truly astonishing, and at the book's end, most readers will surely come to think of Anthony and David as almost real people.

When the book was originally published, a London newspaper made this comment: 'Mr Stewart has really succeeded with this young character, and in depicting a love which truly exists and is not despicable.' How true that statement is. However, Bruce Lang, one of the minor players in the story, is also an interesting character. Even though he's a legitimate friend of David Rogers, he finds it impossible to come to terms with the fact that David could love a 13-year-old choir boy.

Would this book be too controversial for the repressive '90s? I doubt it; it was a success in the late 1960s and early '70s. Surely it's time for a reissue, so that this magnificent novel can be enjoyed by a whole new audience.

Even though 'Sandel' is very suitable for general audiences, it's a must-read for anyone who understands the underlying philosophy behind famous English public schools." -- reviewer

>> books that... I really, really like ^_~

Quatrefoil -- James Barr [ out-of-print ]
back cover --> "The year is 1946. A brash young naval officer faces court-martial for standing up to a lazy officer in the closing days of WW II. In the midst of this turmoil, he meets the man who will change his life..."

The book intellectualizes homosexuality more than any I've ever read, while still engaging the characters in more than a platonic relationship. It has very Ayn Rand-ish overtones, which draw me as much as Ayn Rand did when I was a teenager, though here we have the added benefit of a gay love, instead of a het one. The book does not have a happy ending, but the addition of the author notes (which were not included when I read this book the first time >_< ) finally allow me to understand why.

Here There Be Dragons -- Robert Bentley [ out-of-print ]
A spy/thriller. Don't read many of these. Mind you, it's not the obvious kind. I do so hate to be obvious. The FBI approaches a civilian to become a spy for the duration. His mission? To put himself in a position to be blackmailed so that he can give false information to the blackmailers (enemy spies). Am I giving too much away? Hell, you probably won't read it anyways. Plus, it's out of print. that always helps.

Edward, Edward -- Lola Burford [ out-of-print ] / [ incest ] / [ historical ]

Lord Dismiss Us -- Michael Campbell
NY Times review --> "This 1967 British novel by Michael Campbell is set in a teen-age boys' boarding school where Carleton, a bright, Oxford-bound senior, loves Allen, a younger boy. But Ashley, a teacher, loves Carleton, and there is also a new headmaster who wants to root out moral corruption. Our reviewer, J. D. Scott, wrote, 'The scenes between Carleton and Allen, with their mixture of shyness and greediness for love, are moving and fine.' But 'the comedy of Lord Dismiss Us makes the strongest impression. The Head and his wife and teen-age daughter, the masters and the other boys are extremely funny and (with only a few exceptions) deeply authentic.' "

Just as a warning: though the humour in this book is one of its main aspects, there is a part of the ending that is very jarring. It is not dwelt on---blink and you will miss it (I did, the 1st time I read it)---but it is there. It says something about the books overall quality that this detracts only a small bit from my enjoyment of the book as a whole.

untitled series -- Jo Clayton [ out-of-print ] / [ sci fi ]
• Book 1: Skeen's Leap --> and so finally you know where I got my e-mail addy from! *grin*
• Book 2: Skeen's Return
• Book 3: Skeen's Search

Skeen is my type of female protagonist. She's striking, but not beautiful. She's not an emotional wreck. She can have sex without falling in love. She makes mistakes and gets pissy and can be downright annoying. She has a lover without the story ever delving into romance. God, how refreshing is that? I've yet to read another female quite like her.

Wreaththu series -- Storm Constantine [ sci fi / fantasy ]
• Book 1: The Enchantments of Flesh and Spirit
• Book 2 : The Bewitchments of Love and Hate
• Book 3 : The Fulfilments of Fate and Desire
• The Wraiths of Will and Pleasure: The First Book of the Wraeththu Histories
• The Shades Of Time And Memory: The Second Book of the Wraeththu Histories
• The Ghosts of Blood and Innocence: The Third Book of the Wraeththu Histories

Do you not know these books? They're fabulous. kind of an alternate reality/future type deal where men (and no, I'm not not being pc) have mutated into another species that combines both male and female. Ms. Constantine writes with a beauty that makes you wish life could be more like how this is written instead of how it is, although it just might be much more painful that way.

In the later books, there is a swift dive into melodramaticism that is soap-opera-ish in dimensions, but, hell, it's still fun and a reprieve from the emotional overload of the first 3 books is welcome.

untitled Series -- Catherine Cooke [ out-of-print ] / [ fantasy ]
• Book 1: The Winged Assassin
• Book 2 : Realm of the Gods
• Book 3 : The Crimson Goddess

Arris is the Crimson Goddess' dream in flesh. He is beautiful, he is strong, he is powerful... and the last thing he wants is to be used and discarded by a being who who will consume him utterly. In the darkest times, it doesn't seem so hideous a prospect, but not after he has so freely, and so completely, given his heart to another. Sure, life as a goddess' consort has its perks, but what is a year of ecstasy next to the golden reality of Arris' boyhood friend, Saresha? Do you even have to ask?

the Nightrunner Series -- Lynn Flewelling [ fantasy ]
• Book 1: Luck in the Shadows
• Book 2: Stalking Darkness
• Book 3: Traitor's Moon

Kirith Kirin -- Jim Grimsley [ fantasy ]
plot-ness: "[This is] a fantasy that could have come right from our world where power and greed can tempt, and sometimes conquer, even the most rightist person and where knowing who your friends and enemies are can be very difficult if not impossible. Yet it is not our world. For in Kirith Kirin's world magic is real, immortals walk the land, and people are sometimes the playthings for the dark arts.

The Blue Queen, upon resuming the throne while King Kirith Kirin's eternality is renewed in the Arthen forest, has partnered with a magician of the dark arts. No longer does she need to leave the throne to renew her eternal nature. Swayed by promises of the dark magician, she has claimed the throne forever and is extending her influence to the far corners of the world.

Malleable grey clouds, sidewinding wind, and intelligent lightning bolts made the trip across the vast Girdle nearly impossible. Out of nowhere, the Blue Queen's Patrols made haste to kill the boy and the warrior before they could safely reach the deep forest of Arthen. Riding upon two magnificent stallions, one a royal Prince out of Queen Mnemarra, Jessex and his uncle Sivisal reached Arthen despite a deadly storm that reeked of magic.

Thus begins Jessex's new life as he enters Arthen and moves into the royal court of Kirith Kirin."

I spent, literally, years avoiding this book due to the fact that I was under the mistaken apprehension that it was your average, run-of-the-mill fantasy with your average, run-of-the-mill royalty and their average, run-of-the-mill (if rampant) magicians. I will be the first to admit, joyfully even, that I couldn't have been more wrong. This book is like nothing I've read before. The world Grimsley has created is truly unique, and his writing style is elegantly simple. He renders its characters slowly and beautifully. By its completion, I was quite positively both in awe and in love.
[ warning: the key word here is 'slowly'. this is not a quick moving book.]

The Lodger -- Drew Gummerson [ out-of-print ]
If you're looking for a mystery, which this book is billed as, this book will indeed disappoint. A who-dun-it, it is not. To me, mind you, this is a Very Good Thing, seeing as I'm a firm believer in the theory that mysteries suck. If, however, you're looking for an engaging protagonist with the best name since forever (Honza *swoon*) who's blond and trim and has a penchant for walking about his home naked, this'll be just your cup of tea. When Honza advertises for a lodger due to recent financial straits, having to wear clothes in the morning is the least of his worries. Finding someone who's at least semi-compatible turns out to be surprisingly easy, though only after a few hair-raising encounters. And Andy seems so normal and unassuming. Not someone to cause trouble and definitely not someone to, as a gay man, be attracted to. As time passes, though, it turns out the Trouble is Andy's middle name and, whaddya know, that guy's pretty cute, after all...

White Rose of Night -- Mel Keegan [ historical - crusades ]

An East Wind Blowing
-- Mel Keegan [ historical ]

Brothers -- Ted van Lieshout
back cover --> "Can you still be a brother when your brother is dead? Luke often wonders. His brother Marius has died, leaving Luke alone with their parents. When their mother decides to burn Marius's belongings in a ceremonial bonfire, Luke saves his brother's diary and makes it his own by writing in it. And so begins a dialogue between the brothers, the dead and the living, from which truths emerge, truths of life and death and love."

Despite its scant 155 pages, the emotional impact of this book was enough to make me cry. Literally.

A Different Light -- Elizabeth Lynn [ out-of-print ] / [ sci fi ]

Adam -- Anthony McDonald
back cover --> "Adam is a delightful sixteen-year-old who does well in school and spends his spare time practicing the cello. Or that's what his parents think. But there is another side to him, which comes to the fore when he falls for a labourer called Sylvain and realises that friendships have the potential to be more than platonic.

The results are explosive in this passionate story of illicit romance and teenage angst over one long hot summer in the French countryside."

I'm a sucker for books wherein the protagonist is someone everyone seems to fall in love with, in one way or another. Adam does not have the depth of McDonald's first book, Orange Bitter, Orange Sweet (see below), but, in its own right, is a very enjoyable read.

Aubade -- Kenneth Martin [ out-of-print ]
back cover--> "It is the beginning of the summer and Paul has just left school. Estranged from the people around him and unable to communicate with his parent, he feels lonely and unloved. But his life suddenly changes when he meets a young medical student whom he renames Gary. Their relationship develops through the long hot summer, to reach its climax with the approach of autumn...

First published in 1957 and written when the author was only sixteen years old, this amazing first novel created a storm of controversy with its frank revelations about adolescent homosexual feelings and consciousness."

Sounds like any other coming-of-age story, huh. Trust me when I tell you that it is most certainly not.

At Swim, Two Boys -- Jamie O'Neill [ historical ]
snippet from inside cover --> "Set in Dublin and its near surrounds, At Swim, Two Boys follows the year to Easter 1916, the time of Ireland's brave but fractured uprising against British rule. At its core, it tells the love of two boys, Jim, a naive and reticent scholar, the younger son of a foolish, aspirant shopkeeper Mr. Mack, and Doyler, the dark rough diamond son of Mr. Mack's old army pal."

This book... is gorgeous. So good, in fact, that it's taken me over a year to put up even this pathetic review. Why is it so much easier to review bad books?? No matter this lifeless summary, this book is well worth the time and money. I highly recommend it.
[ note: I cannot as highly recommend two of his other books Disturbance and Kilbrack. If I had read them first, I never would have given At Swim, Two Boys a chance. They are not bad books, per se, but having read them one wonders why one bothered to do so. ]

Earthchild -- Doris Piserchia [ out-of-print ] / [ sci fi ]

Fire From Heaven -- Mary Renault [ out-of-print ] / [ historical - ancient greece ]
The story of Alexander the Great's childhood. *adoration ensues*

The King Must Die -- Mary Renault [ historical - ancient greece ]
A realistic retelling of the legend of Theseus. This was the first of Ms. Renault's books that I read, and it astounded me. I've made no secret of my love of ancient Greece, and this woman brings that far ago time to life better than any other author I know.

The Last of the Wine -- Mary Renault [ historical - ancient greece ]

The Mask of Apollo
-- Mary Renault [ historical - ancient greece ]

The Nature of Alexander
-- Mary Renault [ historical - ancient greece ]
Non-fiction. I do not read non-fiction. It simply does not happen. I have no interest in it whatsoever. I do, however, have a great interest in Alexander, and reading a history of his life as written by someone who seems to love him as much as I... well, I couldn't pass that up, now could I. ^_~

The Persian Boy -- Mary Renault [ historical - ancient greece ]
editorial review on amazon --> "...Traces the last years of Alexander’s life through the eyes of his lover, Bagoas. Abducted and gelded as a boy, Bagoas was sold as a courtesan to King Darius of Persia, but found freedom with Alexander after the Macedon army conquered his homeland. Their relationship sustains Alexander as he weathers assassination plots, the demands of two foreign wives, a sometimes-mutinous army, and his own ferocious temper. After Alexander’s mysterious death, we are left wondering if this Persian boy understood the great warrior and his ambitions better than anyone."

The Master -- Colm Tóibín
back cover --> "... Colm Tóibín captures the extraordinary mind and heart of a great writer. Beautiful and profoundly moving, The Master tells the story of a man [Henry James] born into one of America's first intellectual families who leaves his country in the late nineteenth century to live in Paris, Rome, Venice, and London among privileged artists and writers.

In stunningly resonant prose, Tóibín captures the loneliness and the hope of a master of psychological subtlety whose forays into intimacy inevitably failed those he tried to love. The emotional intensity of this portrait is riveting."

Gaywyck -- Vincent Virga
back cover --> "Robert. With his blond hair, emerald eyes, and porcelain skin, [he] is almost too beautiful to be alive. He is only 17 when he travels to Gaywyck to catalog the mansion's vast library, never expecting to be flung into a terrifying web of danger, love, and lust.

Donough. The master of Gaywyck is the epitome of elegance and sophistication, and only his brooding good looks hint at the fires that rage beneath the surface. Though he longs to return Robert's love, he is haunted by the dark sexual secrets of his past.

Slowly, breathlessly, the passions of Donough and Robert rise to a towering crescendo. But the lovers are unaware of the hidden evil that is watching... waiting... determined to destroy them... This is the gothic romance gay men have yearned for."

My god, but I love this book. It's campy as hell, romantic to the extreme, and that 'gothic' up above? should really be capitalized, italicized and underscored. After multiple readings, it's just as much fun now as it was the first time I picked it up.

The Brothers Bishop -- Bart Yates [ incest ]
Whitney Scott, Copyright © American Library Association --> "Gay high-school English teacher Nathan Bishop lives in the small Connecticut town and the house in which he grew up, unlike brother Tommy, a decidedly urban type who's a real love-'em-and-leave-'em player with the guys. Imagine quiet Nathan's surprise when Tommy arrives with his current hunk and a married couple (man-woman, yet) for a vacation of sun and sand at his brother's place. Teaching summer school to kids, including attractive and hormonal Simon, 15, doesn't keep Nathan from seeing married-man Kyle's obvious ambivalence about his sexuality--a smoldering ember waiting to ignite. Kyle's confused, hurt wife, Camille, winds up drinking too much of the wine cellar Nathan inherited from dear old, abusive Dad. Add--much to Tommy's lustful appreciation--Simon to the already volatile mixture in Nathan's household, and the yearnings and entanglements extend to the school and the larger community in this smoothly written, well-paced exploration of issues of fathers and sons, forgiveness and acceptance."

back cover -->"At once both brutally honest and beautifully tender, The Brothers Bishop is a riveting story about the war we wage on those we love best, the cost of forgiveness, and the necessary pain of becoming fully human."

Warning: The ending is inevitably unhappy. You know it's coming (hence the 'inevitable')(heh...), but it still gets you right in the gut.

Middle Ground -- Ursula Zilinsky [ out-of-print ] / [ historical - ww II ]
This one was a bit controversial when it came out in 1968, and I suppose it might still be considered so today. Set during WW II, the protagonist is a spoiled half-Jewish teen who was raised as non-Jew as you can get yet still ends up in a work camp (not a concentration camp due to his Prussian grandfather). There, he meets, and eventually falls in love with, the commander of the camp---an ex-panzer German officer who is as much against the war and its consequences as any prisoner of the camp. Happy ending (no sap, thankfully), cuz I do so hate miserable endings. Very good writing.

>> books well worth reading

Shadowdance -- Robin Wayne Bailey [ out-of-print ] / [ fantasy ]
inside cover --> "Innowen met the Witch of Shanalane completely by accident during a violent storm she had conjured. He'd been crawling through the mud of the forest floor---a crippled youth desperately seeking help for his guardian, Drushen, who'd been bitten by a poisonous snake.

The Witch saved Drushen's life and then, to Innowen's amazement, she used her magic to give him a priceless gift---the ability to walk.

His legs were still useless by day, but between sunset and sunrise he enjoyed freedom he'd never experienced before. And all he had to do to maintain it was to dance each night---that much the Witch told him.

But she never explained what would happen to those who saw him dance. That horror he discovered on his own."

On the 2nd read, I found parts of this book dragging terribly. But Innowen (nicknamed Innocent *loves*) is just as fascinating as every character in the book also finds him, and seemingly everyday events are connected to others in ways that are, ultimately, profound and very satisfying.

untitled series -- Wilhemina Baird (there is a male / female / male love triangle that loses a male part rather early on...)(though there's another male thrown in, by then end)(*rolls eyes*) /
[ sci fi ]
• Book 1: Crashcourse
• Book 2: Clipjoint
• Book 3: Psykosis

Finding Faith -- Andrew Barriger
Being cheated on by your boyfriend sucks. Finding out your boyfriend is cheating on you by walking in on him in the act is taking suckiness to an entirely new level, especially when you had been pretty sure that this was Love. What can a guy do but get away? Leaving the city behind him, up-and-coming employment lawyer Taylor Connolly retreats to the home of his best friend, Gen, and decides that maybe small town life would suit him better, despite the commute. Especially since the town baker has an arresting smile that Taylor can't help but fall for. Follows: your typical romance, with the exceptions that Tom (divine baker and soon-to-be teacher) isn't 'out', the decidedly female neighborhood real estate agent is interested in Taylor in all the wrong ways, and Neil (a startlingly attractive friend of a friend) is interested in all the right ones. Will True Love find a way? Of course it will. Happily enough, there is never a doubt, but the journey is not less worth the taking for all that. (I told the guys at work that I didn't read romances, and I don't. it wasn't 'til i picked up this book again that I realized I'd inadvertently lied. ^_~)

The Catch Trap -- Marion Zimmer Bradley [ out-of-print ]
From the Inside Flap --> "A magnificent, colorful novel of the circus world of the 1940s and 1950s, rich in detail, bursting with power and emotion. Mario Santelli, a member of the famous flying Santelli family, is a great trapeze artist. Tommy Zane is his protegé. As naturally and gracefully as they soar through the air, the two flyers find themselves falling in love. Mario and Tommy share sweet stolen moments of passion, but the real intensity of their relationship comes from their total devotion to one another and to their art. As public figures in a conservative era, they cannot reveal their love. But they will never renounce it. A tremendously moving tale, a rich family saga, a wise and compassionate portrait of a special love in a special world."

"Rich family sagas" are not quite my thing, which explains why I set this book down halfway through and took a breather before I let myself pick it up again. This in no way, oddly enough, affects my reaction to the book, which was positive throughout. At many times, this is not a pleasant story---it is rife with violence, jealousy, and bigotry. But, as we all know, that's life, and this book captures it very well (in a slightly mini-series-esque way ^_~).

Dragon Bones, and its sequel, Dragon Blood -- Patricia Briggs [ fantasy ]
book description on amazon --> "Ward of Hurog has tried all his life to convince people he is just a simple, harmless fool...And it's worked. But now, to regain his kingdom, he must ride into war-and convince them otherwise."

Drawing Blood -- Poppy Z. Brite
A horror / hacking (as in computers, not people ^_^) tale. I will not go so far as to say that Poppy is a particularly good writer---this is the only of her books that I can stomach---but this work certainly is entertaining.
[ note: now that I've read another of Poppy's books, namely Lost Souls (which is nothing more than a pointless study in gothic futility), I can definitively state that, despite how much fun I have with Drawing Blood, I have no need whatsoever to pick up any more of her works. ]

Latter Days -- screenplay by C. Jay Cox, adapted by T. Fabris
In rl, I do not believe in romance. This is mostly due to the fact that, in general, I have no faith whatsoever in humanity not to suck. Undoubtedly this contributes a hell of alot to my being such a sucker for (m/m) romance in (written) fiction. But still, can you really believe that two beautiful and disparate people could fall truly and madly in love in the space of a few short conversations, a smattering of equally short meetings in a laundry room? Hell no. This does nothing to dissuade me from swooning mightily by this books end. Aaron and Christian---it's love at first sight, though neither of them knew it. In the space of 232 pages, they have both not only found each other, but have completely changed their respective lives in order to be with one another. It's totally unbelievable, thoroughly implausible, and, yes, totally romantic.

the Epic Tales of the Five series
-- Diane Duane [ out-of-print ] / [ fantasy ]
• The Door Into Fire
• The Door Into Shadow
• The Door Into Sunset

the Space Cops series -- Diane Duane & Peter Morwood [ out-of-print ] / [ sci fi ]
• HIgh Moon
• MIndblast

Grand literature, they are not. Great fun, they are. Heh... I'm such a sucker...

Covenants -- Lorna Freeman [ fantasy ]
I really and truly can't remember when I last enjoyed a book more. Covenants is utterly brilliant in its simplicity. My favourite books are, I'll be the 1st to admit, running over with bottomless plots, not to mention various and sundry forms of ambiguity. They're the kind of books that, when I've finished with them, leave me positively aching, in one way or another. This book... is comfortable, it's approachable, and, dang it, it's downright fun. It has a main character that you like within the 1st page. It has short chapters that keep the action moving. It has, true, a somewhat large cast of characters, but never is the number overwhelming enough that when someone speaks you have to check a list to find out who the heck he is. There is no angst, though there is tension. Everything is what it appears to be, except when it's not. And then there's the main reason why I bought this book -- the absence of a female lead. I've gone over before how I really do like women, I swear, but in fiction it is extremely rare that they are anything but romantic, emotional whiners. *cough* So to find a book with no romantic entanglements whatsoever was a literal godsend. It also means, that -- yes, yes -- this book is slash-y in the extreme. *feral grin* By its completion, I was feeling thankful that I'd found it at all, and even more thankful that there is a sequel due out soon. As long as they avoid sticking Rabbit with a tempestuous sprite or a wily noblewoman (*grimace*), I am so there. *grin*

Hunted -- James Alan Gardner [ sci fi ]

The Fire's Stone
-- Tanya Huff [ fantasy ]
I didn't read fantasy for years, after having totally overdosed on Dragonlance in high school. But I get so desperate now that I've slipped back in a bit. As long as there are no elves or dwarves, I'm pretty much ok. This one has wizards and princes, not acting like wizards or princes, tracking down a stolen magical stone that is the only thing standing between a royal city and (I had to say it) fiery destruction. And the Prince falls for a man. How the heck could you go wrong?

the Quarters series -- Tanya Huff [ fantasy ] / the gay relationships are important, but not the main story
• No Quarter
• The Fifth Quarter
• The Quartered Sea

-- Wallace Hamilton [ out-of-print ]
If you've read my 'very', this was one of my inspirations...

-- Michael Jensen [ historical setting - the American frontier - but yet not all that historical... ]
Set in the American frontier, Firelands is decidedly... non-American-frontier-y. Considering the fact that I care not a whit for American history, that's a very good thing. What this book does have is a young, good looking protagonist, a non-stop storyline (that, yes, would and could only work in a fictional world), and a gorgeous Indian lover of said protagonist. No, it isn't a brilliant work, but does it really need to be? It's engaging and pretty (if violent) and well worth the money and time.

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man -- James Joyce
The only book I read in high school which stuck with me. I actually own 3 copies of it. I will not go so far as to say that I truly understand Joyce as a writer (Ulysses still confounds me...), but this book, the most approachable of his works, remains one which helped shape me as a reader.

"Hello," I Lied -- M. E. Kerr [ young adult ] editorial erview --> "Lang Penner is a happily adjusted 17-year-old gay teen who is engaged in a loving relationship with Alex, a 20-year-old actor. When Lang becomes emotionally involved with Huguette, the French daughter of a famous deceased rock star, life suddenly becomes more complicated."

You know what I liked best about this book? It was simple. There was no overwhelming teenage angst, no horrific misunderstandings, no circumstances that lead to events which will affect the characters adversely for their entire lives---it's just... life. I found it pleasantly charming and incredibly refreshing.

Swordspoint: A Melodrama of Manners -- Ellen Kushner
A totally unromantic romance. (There is a sequel, of sorts, to this - entitled The Fall of the Kings - which did not go over nearly so well with me. While the characters were engaging, it was too politically slanted for my tastes. And it ends quite depressingly. *grimace to both*

While England Sleeps
-- David Leavitt [ historical - the spanish civil war ]
A book which I recall as quite well-written and deeply moving, but which ended so tragically that I haven't been able to read it again. "Air of doomed romance", indeed...

The Dancers of Arun -- Elizabeth Lynn [ out-of-print ] / [ fantasy ] / [ incest ]
The story of Kerris, a boy who lost his arm in a raid when he was a child, growing up orphaned and virtually unfriended in a hostile, northern keep. In his 17th year, his long absent brother (Kel) returns for him, taking him along to his home in the south where he discovers his magical heritage as well as how to control his own magic. Like others of Lynn's works, there really is no strong plot line to drive the story along, but the characters are so likable in an I-can't-really-believe-people-like-this-could-ever-exist kind of way that it's re-readable anyways. Also out of print. What fun!

Orange Bitter, Orange Sweet -- Anthony McDonald
back cover --> "... McDonald's haunting debut follows the intertwined relationships of six young people [ in mid-seventies Seville ]---a potent mix of nationalities and sexualities. Richly imbued with the scent of orange blossoms and the sound of classical guitars, this deeply felt romantic novel explores love, frustration and betrayal."

The Year of Ice -- Brian Malloy
From Publishers Weekly - Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --> "A gay high school senior struggles to cope with his father's irresponsibility in Malloy's poignant, quietly effective debut, set in Minneapolis in the late '70s. From the outside looking in, protagonist Kevin Doyle seems like a normal, party-happy 17-year-old, but the combination of a troubled family life and his secret crush on one of his best friends definitely sets him apart from the pack. The family issues revolve around his dad, Pat, an ordinary 40-something widower with plenty of romantic prospects as the book opens. But Kevin is furious when he learns that Pat's infidelity may have contributed to the car accident that took his mother's life, and his anger increases exponentially when his father impregnates the woman he had the affair with, then marries her after a brief dalliance with another woman. Malloy's coming-of-age narrative can be generic, but he handles the gay angle nicely as he explores Kevin's difficulty in finding an outlet for his hormonal urges even as he struggles to maintain a relationship with a classmate named Allison Minczeski, who falls for him. The author also displays a razor-sharp comic touch in the verbal sparring between father and son as Pat tries to bring his instant family together, and he balances the comedy with some touching scenes after Pat messes up his latest domestic venture. Malloy shows plenty of talent in his gay spin on the genre, and this debut bodes well for his literary future."

Beyond Apollo
-- Barry Malzberg [ out-of-print ] / ref.s to homosexual leanings that may or may not have been based in reality
amazon editorial review --> "Two astronauts embark upon the first manned voyage to Venus. Only one returns and writes a journal promising to explain the true events of the voyage."

Parsival: or a Knight's Tale
-- Richard Monaco [ out-of-print ]
A tale of the authurian knight, "this book makes poetry out of the muck and blood of everyday life; has three-dimension characters; epic scope, humor, love and magic and once you're into it you don't put it down.Up there with the classics of any genre. Unique." - amazon reviewer

The Stone Prince -- Fiona Patton [ fantasy ]
So rote that at times it's downright monotonous, but enjoyable all the same.

The Sweet Dove Died
-- Barbara Pym [ out-of-print ] / has a gay male character, but he is not the main focus
"Novelist Barbara Pym's deft touch with the nuances of personality and social class in England in the 1970's is enhanced by Sheila Hancock's skillful reading. Her evocative characterizations bring a rich fullness to the quiet story of Lenore, a beautiful but aging woman competing for the affections of James, a man almost half her age. She manages to vanquish his young girlfriend but has more difficulty with a young American male lover. She also must cope with James's uncle, who is pursuing her. Hancock reflects Pym's sympathy for the confusion and loneliness of the characters but also catches the humor in the author's razor-sharp depictions of their follies." - amazon editorial review

Metes and Bounds -- Jay Quinn
Amazon Book Description --> "In this unusual coming-of-age novel, author Jay Quinn surveys the expanding emotional and sexual boundaries of Matt, an eighteen-year-old surfer in coastal North Carolina. Set against the broad skies and beaches of North Carolina's Outer Banks, Matt's story of claiming his place as a surfer and as a gay man in the small and large worlds of construction sites, fishing piers, and surf breaks, is a triumph of storytelling.

As Matt's dedication to surfing and learning the nuances of the technical aspects of his job join seamlessly, he also learns of his own capacity for erotic adventure and need for emotional connection. Matt's many layers of learning to be a man are the stuff of hard-earned experience and a textured reading experience that is rare in the coming-of-age genre."

Um. Yeah. 3/4 of the time, I marked this up as one of the most mediocre books ever written, the other 1/4, bits of brilliance came through. Was this book worth reading? Yes. And yet, I would really hesitate to call it 'good'...
-- update: enjoyed this book much more on the 2nd reading.

Cry To Heaven
-- Anne Rice
I've long since outgrown Ms. Rice, as well as this book, but I remember that it struck me quite forcibly at first reading. Of course, I was in high school at the time... ^_~

A Density of Souls -- Christopher Rice
Back cover --> "The story of four young friends in New Orleans whose lives are pulled in drastically different directions when they enter high school. Meredith, Brandon, Stephen, and Greg, once inseparable, are torn apart by envy, secret passion, and rage. Soon two violent deaths disrupt the core of what they once shared. Five years later the friends are reunited, and , when one of the deaths is discovered to be a murder, secrets unravel and the casual cruelties of high school develop into acts of violence that threaten an entire city."

"I love a good train wreck". The lyric from She Wants Revenge's song could have been written for this book. It's so over the top that you simply cannot connect with any of the main characters. This in no way detracts from being able to enjoy the book, but it's a different sort of enjoyment---like being addicted to a soap opera, despite yourself. In fact, if an evil long lost twin had shown up, it would have fit right in with the "murder, suicide, and madness".

The Dark Beyond the Stars -- Frank Robinson [ sci fi ]
From Library Journal -->"Aboard the generation ship Astron, bound on a mission to seek out life amid the stars, an insane captain resolves to lead his crew into empty space (and almost certain death), while a crewman struggles to retrieve his lost memories so that the last remnants of humanity can survive."

The Coming Storm -- Paul Russell
back cover --> "Set against the backdrop of a traditional boys' school in upstate New York, The Coming Storm is a delicately and brilliantly rendered tale that reveals the most closely held secrets of the human heart. Russell's award-winning novel is the story of four interesting lives---Louis Tremper, the headmaster at the Forge School; his wife, Claire; Tracey Parker, a twenty-five year old gay man and recently hired teacher at the Forge School; and Noah Lathrop III, a troubled student---all of whom struggle with their own inner demons, desires, and conflicted loyalties. When Tracey and Noah become involved in an illicit relationship, dark incidents from the school's past begin colliding with the current growing confusion that all of them must face."

This... was a good book. Too good, really. Russell's depiction of emotion and reaction were so spot on that there were times that I just had to put it down---it was all too painful, too close to home. This is a book I could not finish. It was too full of falling in love with what we want to be there, and not necessarily what is. If, unlike myself, you're not an emotional wuss *cough*, I highly recommend it.

Toby's Lie
-- Daniel Vilmure [ out-of-print ]
book description on amazon --> "Toby Sligh has one ambitionto come out in spectacular fashion by dancing with his boyfriend at his Catholic high school Prom. Unfortunately, revealing the truth about his sexuality is the least of his worries. His mother has inexplicably moved out; his father is drowning his sorrows in beer; his best friend, a crack dealer pursued by both the law and the mob, has asked him to hide his stash; and Ian, his boyfriend, is becoming increasingly more aloof. In the midst of this turmoil, Toby meets Father Scarcross, a mysterious priest suffering with AIDS who tells him to search for the truth about life, and about himself.

In a world where nothing is what it seems, and everyone has a past to conceal, Toby makes a dizzying high-speed journey through the playgrounds and hospitals, bedrooms and classrooms, backseats and back alleys of his shadow existencecoping with drug deals, blackmail, bomb threats, AIDS, death, and betrayed love. The stunning finale draws together the tangled threads of his life in a masterful mix of pathos, irreverent humor, and shocking revelations."

Years later, I still haven't been able to work myself up to reading this book again. It isn't desperately sad, but any happiness you thought there might have been turns out to have been something quite different at its conclusion. Mind you, it was really damn good so even though I may never read it again, it's well worth hanging on to.

The Merro Tree -- Katie Waitman [ out-of-print ] / [ sci-fi ]
back cover --> " In the far reaches of our galaxy, the artist will face the ultimate censorship.

Mikk of Vyzania, the galaxy's greatest performance master, commanded stages on all the myriad worlds. His sublime, ethereal performances were unforgettable, drawing on the most treasured traditions of every culture, every people, throughout inhabited space. His crowning achievement, and his obsession: the Somalite song dance, an art form that transcends both song and movement to become something greater and more spectacular . . . almost divine.

When tragic events caused performance of the song dance to be proscribed, Mikk was devastated . . . until his strong sense of justice forced him to defy the ban. His trial will be the most sensational in the recent history of the galaxy; the sentence he faces is death.

Now the greatest performance master must hope to become the greatest escape artist. Somehow Mikk must break the stranglehold of censorship and change the law . . . or die trying!"

I put off reading this one for a long time. I seriously can't stand courtroom dramas, especially when the good guy truly is a Good Guy. And that part of the book... I really didn't like. This, I was expecting. I also didn't appreciate how Waitman repeatedly used moments from Mikk's trial to bring to light significant moments from his past (or vice versa. once or twice, I could see. by the 5th time, it came off as little more than a ploy). And the means by which Waitman snatches her main character out of harm's way is so deus ex machina that it's laughable. *rolls eyes* However, Mikk's relationship with Thissizz, the male snake-like creature who is Mikk's soul mate, is astounding and true and beautiful. This---the character development and growth, in addition to the far-flung setting---is what made the book worth reading.

The Book of the New sun (comprised of Shadow and Claw and Sword and Citadel)
& The Urth of the New Sun
-- Gene Wolfe
[ note: The Urth of the New Sun is an afterthought, but rounds off the story so well that I wouldn't recommend reading The Book of the New Sun without it. ]
Whoa. Odd fiction. Truly. It's that which drew me in, to be sure, but it's also that which almost put me off. This is like nothing I've ever read before. It is truly unique and entirely creative. It's also a bit confusing, at points, and thoroughly thought provoking. The story of Severian the Torturer is twisting and complex and, at its completion, full of much more meaning than you may have though at its beginning. These are not 'easy' works to read, but by the the last pages of The Urth of the New Sun, you'll have found the journey to have been well worth taking.

>> for you to decide

The God in Flight -- Laura Argiri
inside cover snippet --> "The God in Flight is the deeply felt and brilliantly realized story of a dangerous love between a professor and a student at Yale University in the 1880's."

Never in my entire life of, you must imagine, rather prolific reading have I come across a book which, by its end, had me wanting it out of my sight so quickly that I all but threw it in the trash. Jesus H Christ. On a pogostick. I might have mentioned 4 or 500 times how much I'm a sucker for characters whom everyone falls in love with. This book takes that to the opposite extreme. Argiri gives us not one, but two men who are so obnoxious and emotionally stunted that it's all but unbelievable. The one character who I did like (very much in fact) and who made the first third of the book a perfect joy to read, leaves off rather early on. How his namesake, Simion, having lived through such a horrid and cruel childhood could grow up into such a vulgar, selfish, worthless prat is beyond me. And his beloved Professor? All he has going for him is his amazing artistic talent and his godlike looks. I'm all for beautiful people (in fiction, at least), but beautiful people with horrendous or downright absent personalities annoy me as much in the written word as they do in RL. I had had more than enough of it with about 100 pages to go, but I made myself finish it---I think I was hoping for closure, at the very least. In the end I needn't have bothered---if anything, I dislike the book more now than when I first put it down.

That said, the reviews on Amazon for this book are stellar---a number of people simply adored it. *boggles* So maybe you'll like it, too??

Tribute Trail -- Terri Becket & Chris Power [ fantasy ]
back cover --> "Kherin is the Goddess' Chosen. Trained as Priest, Warrior and Mage, he sits at the right hand of King Teiron, ruler of the rich, golden land of Khassan. Prophecies at Kherin's birth foretold of greatness. He will have little time to fulfill the prophecies as he must return to the Goddess before he grows old.

Rythian is a skilled hunter and scout of the fierce horse warrior tribe. Shi'R'Lean. Content with his wives, hearth, and his place among his people, he worries about the decadence of the man who leads the Shi'R'Lean.

Both men are at a turning point in their lives, Kherin faces treachery where he least expects it; Rythian must choose between a family he loves and his duty to his people.

On their they face a threat to both their people."

If the book had been anything like the blurb, I'm sure this would have been a much more enjoyable reading experience. As it was, Tribute Trail inspired a lukewarm reaction, at best, and was only worth reading for the last half, when the relationship between Kherin and Rythian begins to grow. I've found books from small publishers are always a gamble. This one paid off well enough that I've kept it, but... it's definitely missing a 'spark'.

Transformation and its sequels Revelation and Restoration -- Carol Berg [ fantasy ]
back cover --> "Sevonne was not always a slave. Once his people were the guardians of magic such as the land has never seen, protectors and defenders. But the Derzhi came, and enslaved them. Now, years of degradation and misery have blurred Sevonne's memory, and sapped his strength. To his people, his is already dead. And to him, death is all that is left---until he finds hope in a most unlikely place...

Sold once again, Sevonne is bought by Aleksander, the heir to the Derzhi Empire. His new master is cold, and heedlessly cruel. But within Aleksander, the seeds of greatness wait. All it would take is guidance from one such as Sevonne once was...

But time is short, for demons have also noticed Aleksander---and what they cannot control, they will destroy..."

Don't believe the hype! These books are not homoerotic in any way, shape, or form (they're not even slashable). In fact, they pissed me the hell off. The main character, Sevonne, gives up everything but his life for his prince, Aleksander. What he gets in return is little more than a pat on the back. If you go into these books never expecting the 2 main characters to grow any closer than prince/trusted subserviant, and you're comfortable with an ending that's 'happy' for everyone but Sevonne, then go for it. They are, I will admit, well written and even engrossing, but... sheyeah... They left me with a very bitter taste in my mouth.

The Chosen -- Richard Pinto [ fantasy-ish ]
When I first read this book, I had to stop halfway through---it was just a bit too cruel. I eventually finished it, and am glad I did so, but on second reading, I found so much of the story that... really didn't need to be there, and the unrelenting cruelty got on my last good nerve. Ditto for the sequel (which I couldn't finish).

Avaryan Rising -- Judith Tarr (comprised of The Hall of the Mountain King, The Lady of Han-Gilen, and A Fall of Princes) (there is a very close relationship between the prince and his squire, but it's merely heavily platonic)
[ note: you want plot? go read the Amazon reviews. they do a very good job. this is merely my reaction... ] [ oddly enough... ]
There was a reason I was avoiding Judith Tarr. I knew there was. It was because she has written a fictional account of Alexander's life in which he is romantically involved with a female. A female. Not that Alexander didn't associate with women at all, but... He was not the type to swoon over a woman. A man, either. He was... too much his own, and even ancient historians point out that he was unusually disinterested in sex, not to mention the fact that his closest relationships were with men. And when the f*ck would he have had time for romance when he was out CONQUERING THE WORLD? So. An incredibly good reason to avoid Judith Tarr. This trilogy... I had heard of it long before I bought it. I had had it on my wishlist at Amazon for over a year, not quite sure if I should take the leap or not. Eventually I did and, as I began to read, I wondered why I had avoided this woman at all. She writes pretty dang well, and her characterizations are lovely. In the first book. In the first book, things are all well and good, and you get swept along and it's kind of wonderful when that happens. But the 2nd book opens with a woman. Now, I do not dislike women. I am one, after all. However, I dislike women as romantic figures. Every single fictional woman in a romantic situation has the exact same mindset and the exact same reasoning, and it pisses me off. Not all women feel or act that way, and even if the bulk of them do, I do not. Uneasily, I flipped through the last 2 books only to find that it's a romance. Sure the characters happen to be kings and royalty, but, when it all comes down to it, the story from then on devolves into the interactions between a man and a woman with, oh yeah, a few other things going on in the background to make them sufficiently combative so that they can make up later. She even changes one character from male to felmale to, what? make him a more acceptable lover? God damn it. Why??? Am I supposed to see myself in women who think only with her hearts, who are swayed entirely by emotion, who are whining little wenches? I dare say 'hell, no'. And so, while I may heartily recommend the first book in this trilogy (you can find it separately---go for it), the final 2 books (though I have not read them and will not) make me shudder.

The Angelic Darkness -- Richard Zimler [ out-of-print ]

>> jumped up novellas -- Typically from small publishers, these 'books' are usually (1) short, both in length and on plot and (2) nowhere near worth the money, unless, perhaps, you want to chance an electronic version (if available) for some strange reason. If they are at all supernatural or fantastical in content, they are also typified by a Quick And Violent Final Confrontation, that is usually quite a let down, if not simply and totally confusing.

Wicked Gentlemen -- Ginn Hal
Amazon Product Description --> "Belimai Sykes is many things: a Prodigal, the descendant of ancient demons, a creature of dark temptations and rare powers. He is also a man with a brutal past and a dangerous addiction. And Belimai Sykes is the only man Captain William Harper can turn to when faced with a series of grisly murders. But Mr. Sykes does not work for free and the price of Belimai's company will cost Captain Harper far more than his reputation. From the ornate mansions of noblemen, where vivisection and sorcery are hidden beneath a veneer of gold, to the steaming slums of Hells Below, Captain Harper must fight for justice and for his life. His enemies are many and his only ally is a devil he knows too well."

Such an interesting premise, and yet so shoddily executed. I tried this one due to its reviews (5 stars, even), but couldn't even finish it.

Journey of a Thousand Miles -- Peter Kasting [ speculative fiction ]
back cover --> "A startling vision of America's future... Cities have become poisoned wastelands, scattering millions. Martial law maintains a precarious balance between survivors and those who prey on them, while jealously guarded towns struggle against corporate enclaves for dominance. The forces behind the Collapse remain a mystery.

For Rafael, fading memories of childhood before the Collapse are little more that nightmares and fairytales, dreams that torment and beguile. But new dreams are taking root high in the mountains and have a power he never imagined. Fate draws him toward a secret, knowledge that cold either unravel the mystery of the Collapse or destroy the hope of a new beginning."

My review --> Buying small publisher books is always a gamble, as is relying on the on-line reviews of "normal" folk. I thought long and hard about this book before I took the plunge, mostly because of the price. The first few paragraphs were enough to make me think I'd made the right choice. The writing was intelligent, the main character extremely likable (if you're into cute, buff, modest guys, that is.*rowr*) The setup is interesting, if a bit unbelievable -- from what little I know of radiation, the sort of attack precipitating this book would have made any sort of normal life unattainable -- but, hey, it's called 'fiction' for a reason. Rafael's and Leo's growing relationship is sweet and loving, in an inevitable way. No complaints whatsoever on these counts. And yet... Bad Things keep happening. Very Bad Things, from which there is no recovery. This book takes the adage of 'anything bad that can happen, will happen' one step too far. The last half of the book is one Bad Thing after another, with enemies who must be either precogs or psychic, judging by the way they anticipate every. single. movement. of the good guys. The ending drops off quite suddenly and very ineffectually. The focus on Rafael's and Leo's love all but ceases as soon as they get into bed together (something which is handled quite tastefully -- if you're looking for smut, this isn't your book). It all devolves from people with pasts and histories reacting to situations into which they've been thrown, to things happening to 2-D representations of previously 3-D characters. All in all, it was worth reading, but I would have much rather borrowed it from a library.
update: attempted to re-read, but was not successful --> too much violence, too little anything else.

The Name of the Game -- Willa Okati
Amazon Book Description --> "Seth's a gorgeous hunk of a cop, but off-limits to his roommate Clay, who's desperately trying to find a way to stop thinking about a man who's straight. Seth's also dating Sophie, the bitchy, possessive, girlfriend from hell, so it's a moot point as far as Clay is concerned. Seth is a good guy, a clean cop and a good friend. But when it comes to the girlfriend, he's not sure how to get her out of the picture. When Seth decides to dump Sophie by pretending to be gay, it's Clay he turns to for help in his game of deception. He's seen the way Clay looks at him, even though they've never made a big deal out if it. Surely Clay will help. Clay's been alone a good while, but with his friend Anthony pushing him into playing the dating game and helping Seth, Clay's relationship options suddenly go from zero to a full hand. There's still only one man for Clay, and as Seth begins to discover just what it's like walking the other side of the line, the two men start to break all the rules."

This one wasn't bad at all. It was... cute. Nothing brilliant, and nothing more than even a short story. There was just no depth. I can read fiction of this caliber on-line for free. Why should I have to pay (way too much) for it?

Falling -- M. L. Rhodes
Amazon Book Description --> "As the leader of an elite British group that hunts criminals of the magic world, Christian Wetherly comes to the U. S. undercover, posing as a British cop, to investigate a series of murders he suspects have been committed by a dark mage. He never expects, however, to find himself intensely attracted to the American police detective in charge of the case. Christian has long struggled with his hidden desires and hasn't admitted them to anyone. But Alec Anderson stirs something deep within him that's difficult to ignore.

Still...even if he could master his fear of coming out, Christian's dedicated himself to protecting the world from magic terrors. It's a dangerous life an ordinary human could never understand or accept. And to complicate matters, Alec's emotionally vulnerable, still grieving the death of his previous lover, a fellow cop killed in the line of duty. So Christian's determined to keep his true occupation and powers hidden from Alec.

Neither man can deny the powerful chemistry that burns between them, and both realize they're falling hard for one another, yet with so many secrets and complications, a relationship seems impossible.
When the two men becomes the target of the dark magic, however, and clues about an ancient legacy come to light that indicate Alec may not be exactly what he seems, can they find the strength to tear down all the barriers between them and risk their hearts in order to save each other's lives?"

my Amazon review --> Enjoyable, this book was. 'Outstanding' it was not. The characters are likeable enough, but have about as much depth as a kiddy pool. What I'm assuming was supposed to be the 'big mystery' you figure out about as soon as both of the main characters are introduced. The villain is Evil -- that, apparently, is all you need to know and all you're told. When the final confrontation with him comes, it's a bit of a let down if only because there's no emotional involvement beyond wanting the cute good guys to win. 'Falling' is a very quick read -- you can burn through it in a few hours, tops, using the minimum of brain cells. It is sweet, romantic and hot (although for this sort of book, you rather expect more sex), and the backdrop is, at least, decidedly different, but 'Falling' is little more than a novella-length e-book with a hella hot cover.

Someone Is Watching -- Mark A. Roeder
Amazon Book Description --> "Someone Is Watching. Someone Knows. It was a nightmare come true for seventeen-year-old Ethan. It's hard hiding a secret. It's even harder keeping that secret when someone else knows. Who is the mysterious note-writer, the secret tormentor? Who is the enemy that hides among Ethan's friends and teammates? Who holds Ethan's secret over his head, threatening to destroy his entire world? Someone Is Watching is the story of a young high school wrestler that must come to grips with being gay. He struggles first with himself, then with an unknown classmate that hounds his every step. While struggling to discover the identity of his tormentor, Ethan must discover his own identity and learn to live his life as his true self. In the end he is faced with a terrible decision. He must give up what he wants the most, or face his greatest fear of all."

This books' length makes it more than simply a 'jumped up novella', but it is a small publisher book and has many of the faults of that category. I gave this one a go mainly because I was desperate. Mr. Roeder is quite prolific, and it was a lovely idea that I might have a whole new slew of books to devour. However, this first choice shot that idea out of the sky before I'd even gotten halfway through the book. >_< Coming out stories that are peppered with violence and suicide will never be my cuppa, especially when the writing is so mediocre.

>> run away! run away!

Ring of Lightning (Dance of the Rings, Book 1) -- Jane S. Fancher [ fantasy / sci-fi ]
I tried. I really did. But I simply could not finish this book. I made my way about halfway through and... just couldn't make myself read anymore. Despite the set-up for what could have been a very interesting world, it was just... fricking boring.

(insert title here) -- Laurell K. Hamilton [ contemporary fantasy ]
Just so you know? This woman can not write. I got 10 pages into the 1st book of whatever series it is that everyone loves so much and couldn't make myself go any farther. I understand the popularity of this womans' books as much as I comprehend string theory. *shudders* *and makes a hex sign, just to be safe*

The Master of Seacliff -- Max Pierce
Gothic gay 'romance' for those with no taste for good fiction. This book had no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Even the cover sucked. >_<

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