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review 2017-02-17 17:43
Uuuuummmm...excuse me, but where do I sign up for book #2?
Warlock in Training - T.J. Nichols

Because I want it...like yesterday...now would be good but yesterday would have been even better because then I could reading it now.

 

I admit this book probably isn't for everyone but when I saw the blurb I was curious and fairly certain it would work for me...well, that was an understatement. I loved it. It's magic and wizards, warlocks, mages, demons and Oh hell yeah! There's a dragon or two just for good measure. 

 

Let's start with Angus, he's definitely the center of the story. He's a warlock in training and in his world any warlock worth his salt has a demon and Angus manages to get the demon to end all demons because his demon's a mage.

 

Have I confused you yet? Well let me clarify things a little. Angus is human and he lives on the humanside and he's training to be a warlock, not that he wants to be but daddy thinks he should or at least he does until he doesn't but we're not going to go there right now.

 

For the purposes of this story a warlock is someone who is trained in the use of magic and draws their magic from his demon who he calls forth from the other side of the void, which is essentially the demonside of this world. Now a wizard is someone who uses magic but it's magic that they gather and they don't use a demon. Which is nice considering that no one asked the demon if he wanted to do this they just use them until they've used up their power and a mage is a demon who can use magic, so basically a combination of a wizard and a warlock in that they're trained but they draw their power from their surroundings more like a wizard and that's all the world building we're going to cover for now. 

 

So we have Angus a warlock in training who just happens to call forth Saka who is a mage and not in training and powerful. Now I'm going to talk about why I want the next book so freakin' bad.

 

First off while there is a romance in this book it's definitely a secondary part of the story and let's just say it's unusual...there's even a bit of a romantic triangle...potentially and bonus points boys and girls there's a orgy that's right a full on demon ritual orgy and it does involve both boy and girl bits, however, I really didn't find the details to be excessively graphic or offensive and lastly there's also a definite cliffhanger to the ending, so if any of this is an issue for you, than this might not be the book for you. 

 

T. J. Nichols is a new to me author who basically blew me out of the water with this book. I loved the world building and the character development, especially with Angus. He showed a lot of growth from start to finish and given everything he went through I probably would have tanked things if it had been any different.  

 

Saka was more than a little interesting and I'm really not sure how to explain him because...hello? demon here and a really interesting one not to mention pretty hot if we take Angus's word on things and did I mention he's got a tail...I'mma just sayin'.

 

Saka is a mage and a powerful one even by his people's standards. He's also a teacher, he wants to restore the magical balance to both humanside and demonside but what he also wants is to do it in a way that is beneficial to both races and without war between the two sides, however, time's running out for everyone because the humanside of this world is getting colder and demonside is getting hotter, so while a long term fix is the ultimate objective neither world can ignore the need for stop gap measures as well.

 

My only little niggle with this book was that the pacing occasionally felt a little slow but at the same time there's not anything in this story that I'm willing to give up...so little niggle from my perspective.

 

At the end of it all if fantasy, with some awesome world building, a side of romance and a strong plot is your thing you need to check this one out. Do I wish I had the next book...of course, if it's anywhere near as good as this one it's going to be one hella' good read. Am I sorry I read this one only to be left sitting on the edge of a cliff...nope, not even a little bit...the view from here is very promising.

 

********************

An ARC of 'Warlock in Training' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2016-12-17 18:51
Sometimes you just gotta' take a chance...
Murder Once Seen (The Oddities) (Volume 1) - Susan J. Hall

That's what I did with this one. 'Murder Once Seen' is a new to me author writing in what is a new to her genre...paranormal/gay/mystery/suspense, I have to admit for me it felt more like a M/m Urban Fantasy with a definite dystopian flavor and a dash of mystery/suspense thrown in, but however you want to categorize it I liked it a lot...a whole lot!

 

 Elliot's a rent boy in the city of Nis, he's been on the streets since the age of 14 when his parents tossed him out not for his oddity but because he's gay. Life's not easy living on the streets and having the uncontrolled ability to read objects along with being gay and the fact that he likes...no loves pain and the chances of getting off the streets and having a safe, normal life seems like a bit of a pipe dream for Elliot. He never intended for this to be his life but then there's a lot he never intended to happen, but sometimes life just is what it is.

 

Derwin's got his own oddity one that he tries hard to keep off of the radar of the powers that be. He feeds off of other people's pain but the pain he craves is the pain that's freely given between a Dom and his sub. His oddity also gives him superhuman strength and agility...helpful skills if you're a bounty hunter. He's been alone for a while now because it's been 2 years since his boyfriend was murdered. A murder that still remains unsolved and that eats away at Derwin with the need to know what happened.

 

What started out as a job for Elliot and a way to feed and get a little sexual relief for Derwin quickly turns into a case of really strong mutual attraction when both men realize that their personal kinks are very mutually agreeable, but it's more than that as they each feel the stirrings of an underlying attraction that draws them towards one another.  I wouldn't call this a case of insta-love necessarily, it's close but for me it didn't quite have that feel and it was tempered by the fact that while both men were aware of their mutual attraction, they were also resistant to how fast and strong their attraction was developing.

 

I liked that their relationship was a far cry from boy-meets-boy, fall into bed and they all lived happily ever after. It so did not happen this way. There were obstacles...lots of them on both sides. 

 

My only issue with this story and honestly for me it was a small one and didn't really detract from my overall enjoyment of the story was at the very beginning we're given Derwin's background regarding his boyfriends death through a flashback and basically we get Elliot's background the same way and some of the general information about the overall setting is filtered in between the main character's flashbacks. So my issue and I have to say this may very well be a me thing but for some reason I found the flashbacks a little confusing and more so Elliot's than Derwin's. Ultimately for me it's was a minor glitch. 

 

I loved the mystery/suspense part of this story and the way it balanced with the development of Derwin and Elliot's relationship. Now, I don't really think I say this often and I know my friends will correct me if I'm wrong here, but i seriously would have been good with these guys having more up close and personal time than they did. Arguably the storyline didn't really facilitate this happening but it didn't stop me from wanting it. Derwin and Elliot were seriously hot together...very, very hot...ok, I may have read some parts twice but it was just for clarity...honest, purely in the interest of clarifying details.

 

I honestly can't wait for the next book in this series and I am so all over this one, but a word of warning to those who may choose to read this story...please keep in mind what Elliot does for a living...he's a rentboy, no there's not tons of him and other people sex happening honestly there's one scene and the sex is really more off page but again he's a rentboy. Also the ending is a bit cliff-hangerish and our guys have more of an HFN at this point but really excellent story and so worth going back for book 2, Fraud Twice Felt (coming soon) according to the book...sign me up, I'm all over this one.

 

********************

An ARC of 'Murder Once Seen' was graciously provided by the publisher through Net Galley.

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review 2016-12-09 20:29
Voices matter...
Champagne Kisses - Lynda Aicher 'Champagne Kisses' has the dubious distinction of being my 10th audiobook, however, I want to talk about the story before getting into the audio part of things. As an event planner, Evan knows his stuff and he's sure that the Christmas Eve wedding he's been planning for the past month is going to make his career. That is until the vases start flying and one connects with the head of one of the grooms sending him off to the hospital and making the wedding simply off. It takes some quick thinking on Evan's part to salvage things and the Christmas Eve Wedding becomes a Christmas Eve party. Evan is not only gay he's out and proud, he even describes himself as being 'fem and swishy'. He's also attractive and confident traits which haven't escaped the notice of Richard, brother to one of the grooms or soon to be ex-grooms. Richard's not really in the closet...more like standing in the entrance. Richard's also hot and Evan totally acknowledges this and he's sure he's not going to push any hot buttons for the man. But apparently Evan also turns Richard into a babbling fool. It's amid the personal turmoil of fighting with Evan and his own personal preconceptions and biases that Richard makes the first move on Evan and things quickly crash when Richard's filters fail him and thoughts best left in his brain fall out of his mouth, sadly this seems to happen a lot when Richard's around Evan. Needless to say these two finally get together and decided to take advantage of the honeymoon suite that's now going unused. While I enjoyed the first part of the story which was cute and entertaining it was when Richard stepped up to the plate and decided to go after what he wants, which of course is Evan, that I started to really get into the story. These two men worked together as a couple, yes there was stereo typing...macho Richard is toppy. Swishy, fem Evan of course is a bottom and more important than the usual or the unusual for me is a story that's believable and gives me the connection between the characters that I enjoy and this one delivered. For a good part of this story Richard wasn't always shown in a favorable light and we got to see Evan as charming, confident and comfortable with his sexuality so the ending worked for me because things took a little bit of a change when it was Evan who decided that he needed to do the mature thing...not... and run away. Luckily he couldn't run far because he had to wrap business up at the hotel and Richard stepped up and went after what he wanted...Evan. I also really liked the epilogue which gave a peek into the life of Evan and Richard nearly a year later. So for me the story was a solid 3.5 possibly 4 stars. It was the audio portion that I had problems with and as I said it was definitely a learning experience for me. The first thing that I learned was listen to the sample before accepting an audio book because than you'll at least have a clue as to whether or not you're going to enjoy the narrator. But having said this I also discovered that since it's only a sample you may not hear the part that eventually becomes your issue. So why was the audio portion a bit of a fail for me well...it's about Richard...or more accurately his voice and please keep in mind that this really is a very subjective issue, but in my mind Richard's voice was deeper more baritone...more macho if you will. While Evan's voice worked perfectly for me and sounded essentially how I expected it would. While Evan's voice and Richard's voice were different there were times...especially when they were in the honeymoon suite that the differences were marginal and I found it a bit disconcerting to distinguish who was speaking and who was doing what to who. I admit it at one point I reverted to being a 12 year old and just had a good giggle...what can I say, I'm easily entertained. I even went so far as to listen to this twice just to see if it was the mood I was in when I was listened to the story the first time, but no I gave it my full attention the second time and you guessed it more giggling ensued. As well as my issue with Richard's voice was the fact that the voice that was used for the narrative parts of the story...parts where people were thinking and no one was really speaking for me needs to be something more neutral unless I'm wandering around in someone's brain, like say Richard, and hearing their thoughts then I need that voice to either be Richard's voice or at worst something very neutral not something that's puts me into another character's headspace. Simply put if it's Richard thinking he needs to do it in his voice or a neutral voice but not Evan's or something close enough that it might as well be Evan. For these reasons the audiobook only gets a very subjective 2.5 stars from me. ******************** An Audiobook ARC was received courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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review 2016-12-01 19:56
This one made me happy!
Rebound Remedy - Christine d'Abo

It's another win for the audible holiday stories.

 

Holidays are probably the worst time ever to have a relationship end and it's even worse when it happens because you're watching your boyfriend accept a marriage proposal from someone else while waiting to board the plane that's suppose to take you and said boyfriend away for a romantic holiday vacation to Banff. Honestly at this point could life suck any more than it does? Well yes, of course it could if everyone else standing around is cheering for this grand romantic gesture as you watch your heart shatter into a million pieces. 

 

So, you've been dumped and it's the holidays...what's a guy to do? Go to your favorite neighborhood bar and have a few brews of course, damn straight I'd heading there, and tell your favorite bartender all about your woes especially when said bartender is handsome, attentive and willing to listen.

 

Owen pays attention to what goes on in his bar and he recognizes Cole as a regular. He thinks he's a nice guy who's always looking out for everyone else. He's seen the times that Cole's paid for other patron's tabs, put them in a cab and slipped the fare into their pockets, giving generous tips to the staff and always trying to stay under the radar with his kindness. But Owen's radar pinged a long time ago where Cole's concerned and he sees what Cole does for others. What didn't ping until hearing Cole's heartbreaking story was his gaydar but it's pinging now. It's just too bad that Cole's on the rebound and doesn't realize that Owen's bi, not that it would matter because along with his own plate full of problems Owen views Cole as being vulnerable and he's determined not to take advantage of Cole...he's just not going to be 'that guy'.

 

However, Owen's not surprised when Saturday night comes around and he finds Cole taking care of a drunk in the men's room. By the time they get said drunk wrestled into a cab to go home, Cole's managed to pick up a shiner and Owen's decided he's going to try and brighten up Cole's holidays with a plan to spend some time together as buddies getting to know each other and maybe making the holiday season a little bit better for themselves.  It's just unfortunate that neither man realizes the attraction he holds for the other.

 

'Rebound Remedy' was a fun, light, holiday story with very little angst and yes a bit of poor communication between our MCs but it can happen to the best of couples. Overall I really enjoyed this story and I loved the ending that Cole got one last moment with his ex to give him some real closure and that Cole and Owen got the beginning of their own happy beginning and that I basically smiled from start to finish on this story because I really liked these two MCs together.

 

And the icing on the cake for me, ironically, was that I enjoyed this as an audiobook narrated by Nick J. Russo. This is my second audio book with this narrator and he has delivered on both of them for me, but especially this time around. I think I might have fallen a little in love with Owen...well, Owen's voice. I'm sure the other character's in this story were also well done but Owen...mmmmm...Owen kinda' melted me a little. I could listen to that voice all day.  

 

I'm actually going to be in Toronto for the holidays and I have to admit if there was a McGregor's bar with an Owen tending bar I'd be going there for a cold one just to get Owen to talk to me. Cheers everyone and Happy Holidays!

 

********************

An audio ARC of 'Rebound Remedy' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2016-11-29 20:56
A Barista walks into a bar...
What's in a Name? - Pat Henshaw

I have to admit I thought this one sounded interesting. The premise was cute. It's Jimmy's birthday and he decides to get drunk, his boyfriend decides to get laid...just maybe not by Jimmy. The bartender whose been watching Jimmy for a while now decides it's time to make his move since said boyfriend has left the bar with someone else. Jimmy wants to know the bartender's name, bartender then decides to make this a challenge because he wants to spend more time with Jimmy. Add in some work related trouble for Jimmy and his bestfriend and partner Felicity and things are looking interesting...wait let's not stop there...let's make the ex-boyfriend a total nutbar and add a homophobe or two, a bagful of idiots, some dumb as a post law enforcement and bad guys...I know throw in some instalove/lust, we'll make Jimmy a bit of a whimp (turns out Jimmy knows karate, he just didn't get to use it), ...you see where this is going right? We're developing a laundry list. So needless to say like the laundry the focus on this one got a little scattered. 

 

I actually liked the 'guess my name' part of this story or I would have if it had been done differently. I mean seriously 'guess my name and I'll buy you a motorcycle?' really? WTF? and I'll give you a week to figure it out in? and if you're wrong I get a kiss and apparently we're now joined at the hip...sorry this just went south real quick. 

 

I've had this book for a while now and when the opportunity presented itself to me to listen to the audio book I figured why not and now I'm kinda' wondering why? 

 

Sadly along with the laundry list of things already mentioned as to why I didn't enjoy this book is the fact that when Jimmy confronted his nutbar ex, said ex called him a stupid c*nt...really? why? why is it that you're insulting another man and the first that comes to mind is female anatomy? why isn't he a stupid dick, or a useless dick (I'm pretty sure he qualified for this one). I admit it this is a bit of a pet peeve for me. One that I haven't encountered in quite a while.

 

As for the audio portion of this review, it just didn't work for me. I couldn't put the correct visual to the voices that I was hearing. I'm not saying they were bad, just that they didn't work for me and if I'm going to listen to an audio book with a big, motorcycle riding bear in it I need a voice that brings that image to my mind. I need him to sound like

Dwayne Johnson, because seriously when I read that description that's who came to mind...

 until I heard the voice and then it was...

Sean Hayes don't get me wrong I love Sean Hayes.  

 

I'm sure he's a really nice guy and I know he's funny. But he's not my image of a kick ass biker dude/bar owner and his voice doesn't conjure that image but Dwayne Johnson head to toe, voice included gives me the full package and that may not be the case for everyone but it was for me.

 

Actually, Sean Hayes would have been a good Jimmy for me. So yeah, if these two had done the audio book I probably would have liked it a whole lot more. But they didn't and the voices that I got didn't work...end of story.

 

David Ross was the narrator on this one and I honestly think different voices/characters and he would do a good job, I'm certainly willing to give him another listen on something else in the future and I've peeked at the reviews for book 2 on this series and it's looking a little better so I  may give book 2 a chance as well, only this time I think I'll just read the book.

 

********************

An Audiobook of 'What's In A Name?' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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