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review 2016-11-25 19:37
ARC Review — Heartifact, by Aisling Mancy
Heartifact - Aisling Mancy

Harper is a marine archeologist, and he has a job with an oil company, mapping out new drill sites on the Great Barrier Reef. His boss doesn’t want to hear about how what they’re doing there is killing the reef.

 

At night, Harper is visited by a gorgeous man in his dreams—a stunning soul that leaves him breathless. (And me, I’d like to add).

 

Harper needs a break. He gets one, when one day, his old friend Stick calls him: Stick is a woman I loved from the second she walked onto the page. There is an underwater archeological dig, in the Mediterranean, by a Greek island. And there are intelligent and knowledgeable people running the dig. Smart and fun. Such a treat. Off they go!

 

The story takes a fantastic turn when Harper starts diving. This is a thriller. With twists. And it’s hot. Very hot.

 

I fell into this story, as always with this author, and came out on the other side in an amazed daze. I love how there are a gazillion things happening at the same time, there is action and stuff going on at several levels, and then BAM! It’s over, and I’m still reeling.

 

I don’t know how Mancy crams so much into so few pages; this is a short story of some 150 pages, but holy moly, he packs them full!

 

There are plenty of technical details about the underwater world and work, details that convince you of the well-documented research that has gone on behind the scenes to write this story. I am forever impressed with the erudition of this author, his stories span such diverse topics.

 

The point of a short story is to be precise, concise, and pack a punch at the end.

 

Well, then. Check, check, and check.

 

To add to the marvel, I am in love with the cover. Such a radiant underwater feeling of magic and slanting sunshine. I just love it so much.

 

Extra bonus: Proceeds from this book go to supporting three different causes:  Le Refuge in France, Arcigay in Italy, and The Trevor Project in USA.

 

So, even though I was given an ARC for review purposes, I went and bought my own copies. Yes, plural, because this short story was also released in French—and the translation by Bénédicte Girault is absolutely stunning. Every nuance, every feeling, masterfully rendered in French colors. I hear the Italian version will be coming soon, so I’ll wait for that one, too.

 

Well worth my time to read this, and then read it again.

 

Try it.

 

Because you’ll also help some very good organizations.

 

 

***

 

I was given a free review copy of this e-book from the author, but then I went to buy my own eBook copies to support the good causes.

A positive review wasn’t promised in return.

Source: annalund2011.booklikes.com/post/1499993/arc-review-heartifact
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review 2016-10-28 09:39
ARC Review – Must Like Spinach, by Con Riley
Must Like Spinach - Con Riley

Fast track. Slick business boys, cutting costs for huge corporations, walking over dead bodies.

All things I positively hate.

 

And here goes Con Riley and makes me love this boy, Jonathan. How he finds peace in a garden in Seattle. How he connects with an elderly lady (how unusual to find real characters in an m/m story), and how he connects with the young man across the yard, despite at first judging him harshly.

 

Not everything is as it seems, and a garden in which to grow spinach is just one of the many layers of story within this story.

 

When your career makes you have to choose between being a good man and continuing in your job, you need to sit down and have yourself a good long think. And somehow this is not about Jon, no, it’s about the corporation he’s currently evaluating.

 

As usual with Con Riley, this is not a steamy story. It is slow burn. I love this. This is introspective, delving deep into what makes a man a man, and why we sometimes lose sight of who we are.

 

Isn’t it just great that sometimes a good story can set us straight again?

 

This is one of those stories.

 

I absolutely loved it, and hope you will all read it, too. Slow and easy.

 

5 stars

 

***

 

I was given a review copy of this book, and a positive review wasn’t promised in return.

Source: annalund2011.booklikes.com/post/1489301/arc-review-must-like-spinach-by-con-riley
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review 2016-04-10 20:00
ARC Review – Thárros, by C. Kennedy
Thárros - C. Kennedy

We must start with courage.

And Thárros is courage.

 

Only in truly great fear, (or pain, or grief), do we need to muster truly great courage—but we do muster this courage, because without it there is no hope.

 

And without hope, we are all lost.

 

This story digs deep within, and it blasts open the dams, releasing a deluge of sorrow and pain, but also rivers of courage, hope and love. And as much as it has a sad base-line, it is also an uplifting story; it is beautiful, and amazing, and action-filled, and absolutely thrilling.

 

It runs away with you, it breaks your heart, and then it puts it back together again.

 

But it also delivers the extra bonus: It is so much fun! Meeting Christy and Michael again with all their crazy and exciting friends at school, and Lisa and her Uncle Smitty, it makes you giggle, and laugh, and smile, and feel good. I adore these fantastic families that know how to do things right.

Mothers and fathers who care. Teachers and a school principal who take their responsibilities seriously.

This is a little bit like a Technical Manual of Care and Maintenance for those who work with our collective youth, especially if they work with children or young adults who have had a hard time.

 

The series is, of course, centered around Christy, and I find that he is a hero of enormous value and valor. What he has overcome would make most of us just want to roll over and give up. What he does with his knowledge, once he’s gotten his own power back again, is what makes him different from the rest of us. Because he uses every inch of what he’s been through to help others, especially a kid called Thimi who enters the storyline at the end of this book, a little bit on the side. Beautiful new character. Cannot wait to get to know him a little bit more.

 

Thárros explores how we confront fear and pain, and it shows us how to find our strength, our courage. It also shows us that we can, and should, lean on our friends, trust that they will love us and help us when we need it. And it shows us how even the strongest of us sometimes give up, and need help to come back.

 

It is a story of great struggles, of great friendships, and of great pain, all turned into a wondrous blend of both strength and love.

 

The end result? The telling of a great, great love story—with true friendship shining through, the kind of love that inspires both happy endings and hope.

 

Now, we must lean back in our armchairs, and wait for the last book in this series, Elpida.

 

Because Elpida means hope.

 

And, as we said in the beginning, without hope, we are all lost.

 

***

 

I was given a free copy of this book from the publisher, Harmony Ink Press. A positive review wasn’t promised in return.

 

 

Source: annalund2011.booklikes.com/post/1376587/arc-review-tharros-by-c-kennedy
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review 2015-10-25 20:01
ARC Review — A Solitary Man, by Shira Anthony and Aisling Mancy
A Solitary Man - Aisling Mancy,Shira Anthony

This story just speeds off from page one, running, dashing, skipping, and jumping obstacles.

It is a rush and a half—this storyline grabbed me by the collar, shook me to the core, made me scream, rave, laugh, rejoice.

Xav and Chance were great characters, both believable and real. I could see them in front of me, racing in dark alleys, or at work in the local sheriff’s office.

 

It was an amazing ride, with the dark and realistic subject of child trafficking for sexual exploitation, which is not a common subject. It was a deeply emotional story, on many levels. It rang true, and felt believable, and as most people would want to close their (our?) eyes to the very fact that this trafficking exists, we need stories like this one; these children need to be made visible. We need to hear their truths.

 

The strength needed to investigate these crimes? Incredible and amazing mental power. And a heart as big as the moon itself.

 

As Xav says, “The only way I’ve been able to do what I do is to think about the boys I can save.” And, further, “The one kid, who does make it, makes what we do worthwhile.”

 

Let’s not back away from this subject, in fear, or in disgust. Let’s look this monster in the eyes, and say, we will not accept this anymore! Because, until we all do, child trafficking for sexual exploitation will continue to happen.

 

A book like this one is important: Not only is it written very well, with a lot of action and a lot of things happening, it is also an eye-opener. I learned many new things during my read. I also felt a deep and utter satisfaction with where the whole story arc ended. There were bitter losses, too, because life is hard. But, as always with authors I love, resolution and HEA.

 

Yes I think we can safely say that this was a great book for me. I would, perhaps, have preferred the sex scenes to be fade to black, as I felt them to be beside the story itself, (you never thought you’d hear me say that, huh?) but all in all, this was a truly amazing read. I won’t be able to leave it behind me, for a long time.

 

Grab your hat, and fall right into the chase! Let’s go get these bad guys, and lock them up for good.

 

***

 

I was given a free copy of this book from the authors, and a positive review wasn’t promised in return. Publishing date: November 6, 2015

Source: annalund2011.booklikes.com/post/1276414/arc-review-a-solitary-man-by-shira-anthony-and-aisling-mancy
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review 2015-04-05 14:00
ARC Review — Slaying Isidore's Dragons, by C. Kennedy
Slaying Isidore's Dragons - C. Kennedy

What a ride! What an amazing story. I’m still reeling. And so full of hope, for the future, for the future of these boys, all our boys.

 

In this story, as is the usual fare with Kennedy, there is action; there is no time to relax, no time to slow down, things are happening all the time, and in so many layers, it takes all my concentration to keep it together. And I love it. I just simply love it. I roll in it, I run with it. I revel in it.

 

I feel I know these people, already after a few chapters. It is as if I am running beside them, seeing what they are seeing, feeling what they are feeling. It is almost overwhelming. I scream, and I scare the cats. I giggle, and I wake Mr. Anna.

 

Kennedy must be the king of purple prose, and yet, somehow, here, it just works; it doesn’t become ridiculous, it just becomes powerful and full of awe-inspiring, foreign flavors.

And then another bomb goes off.

 

Why am I not surprised?

 

While reading until my iPad hits my face, I realize, just as I am falling asleep, that there is so much more to this story than meets the eye.

 

There is the careful choosing of words. The loving turn of phrase that won’t scare a potential victimized reader. Words are of such vital importance to young survivors; those of us who have never lived through abuse, can never quite understand how loaded a simple word can be.

 

And then there is the momentous message to abuse victims and survivors that there is a future, also for them. That there is hope for sunshine and love, in all our futures.

 

It is uplifting. It is caring. There is hope.

 

And then another bomb goes off, yeah?

 

This book had me sitting on the proverbial edge of my seat, jumping with excitement, smiling with bliss, and feeling the love between the two young men grow and blossom. (See? I have achieved some purple myself). I cry me an ocean, too, for good measure.

 

The way Declan and Isidore discover each other is beautiful, loving, enriching, sweet, and so sexy. Without ever going into the exploitative and crude, the physical love they explore is simply beautiful. They are both on the older side of their teen years, at eighteen and seventeen, thinking about their bodies and discovering a new sensuality, and the way Declan gets frustrated with his dick makes me scream with laughter. So many good feels, here, too.

 

There is no way I can review this book without drawing parallels to Omorphi, Kennedy’s other long novel about abused youth. The similarities are of course there, but what really strikes me is the difference between them. The main character in the first story, Christy, is a survivor of abuse. In Slaying Isidore’s Dragons, Isidore is still a victim, and he is still living with his abusers. There is such a huge difference in mindset.

 

Now, there is a special talent to be able to describe and write about this kind of abuse, without either falling into the exploitative, or brushing over the sad facts. Here, none of those things happen. There is truthfulness in these pages, but most of all, there is hope. Awe-inspiring Hope. It makes the reader understand what goes on inside the mind of an abuse victim.

 

It shatters me to see how this new life, when saved from an abusive environment, can be so overwhelming that the victim is ready to go back to the abusive home, just to get to a place where everything makes sense.

 

This is a book with really difficult themes, and it is striking how it can ring true in all its horrid details, while still giving hope and showing a way out. This book may very well be saving lives, and giving hope.

 

It is interesting how well the double POV works, where we see things mostly from the eyes of the boyfriend, Declan. I don’t think we could take seeing it all from inside Isidore’s mind, but the short interludes that we do get to see are so revealing. Thank you for showing us how completely different the same scene may seem to the victim.

 

Now, I also want to tell everybody about how much I adore Sorcha, Declan’s mother. She is a powerful, gorgeous, strong, beautiful, and loving woman. I love all those things in people, but I especially appreciate them when they are attributed to a woman in an m/m setting. This is finally happening more often, but I still want to say thank you for this: thank you, author, for a strong and good woman. Mothering is not easy, and she does shine a light. The fact that she was also an Ambassador in her own right, makes my heart sing. A real woman. Somebody with both a job and a career. Not only, she is also absolutely hilarious, and a good belly laugh really makes life worth living. The healing value of humor is well known, but is even more so to a victim of abuse.

 

It is important for me to see that the story in this book actually rings true in the ears of the intended readers, i.e. young survivors of abuse; youth who, through this novel, can visualize a potential future, a possibility of a decent life, of love, of happiness. Reading young Timmy’s review of this book, I see the story through his eyes. See his review here.

 

It is true. This story brings hope. It shows the path forward, it shows the possibility of future.

 

This is top notch.

 

On my Top-Read-Of-2015 shelf.

 

Well done, Kennedy. I just realize that I have written the word “hope” nine times in my review. That must mean something.

 

You pass with flying colors.

 

Five shining stars.

 

***

 

I received an ARC of this book from the author, and a positive review wasn’t promised in return.

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