Sunday, January 31, 2010

TSS-M/M Month Wrap-Up

The Sunday

Today is the last day of January, which means it's also the last day of M/M Month.  Here are the books I read this month:

m/m month button

Overall I would say the month was a mixed bag.  I might have thrown myself a little too enthusiastically in the m/m romance subgenre.  Although I did enjoy the books by Josh Lanyon and Ava March, every other book was a wash.  I don't think m/m is really my thing--especially as I don't seem to be able to work up much of an interest in m/m sex.  Usually it either made me giggle or squicked me out.  Some of it was pretty hot, though (re: Lanyon and March); but I think that had more do with the characters and circumstances than the m/m thing.

That being said, though, I love love loved my guest posters for the month!  Mandi from Smexy Books posted a review of The Strongest Shape; author Caridad Pineiro wrote a post about m/m romance as part of her book tour to promote Sins of the Flesh; Orannia of Walkabout suggested books that introduced her to m/m romance; and Ryan from Wordsmithonia posted about his perspective of the m/m genre.  I want to again say a big thank-you to them, because they wrote better posts than I could ever hope to, and really made the month special.  If you haven't read any of their guest posts yet, please make sure to.

Some of you might be wondering if I'm planning to do another themed month.  Well, I'm glad you asked!  I am planning on doing a classics theme in March; I'll post more about that in February.  Meghan from Medieval Bookworm is also joining me for classics month, so it will be doubly fun!  Between then and now I'm planning to read... well, whatever I want.

In the meantime, I do have to recommend Josh Lanyon to everyone.  He is a fabulous writer and if nothing else, m/m month was worth it just to have introduced me to his books.

How did your January reading go?

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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Bound by Deception by Ava March

bound by deception cover

Bound by Deception by Ava March*

M/M Month closes on a high note with Bound by Deception, a Regency-era romance that was really a delight to read.

Lord Oliver and Lord Vincent are both overlooked second sons who have a long-standing friendship; but Lord Oliver never realizes that the man he carries a tendre for is also attracted to men until he overhears gossip from a popular male whore.  Although he is penniless, Oliver resolves to pay whatever it will take to have one night with Vincent.

Since this is a fairly short book, I don't want to give away more of the plot than that.  However, I will say two things:  first, about half of this book is sex.  And the sex is really hot.  Normally I don't go for dominance/submission type scenes, but the way these are written fit into the storyline and made perfect sense for the characters.

Secondly, the characterization of both Oliver and Vincent is wonderful.  Especially for Oliver--I love how Vincent's view of him rounded out his personality for me.  Vincent, the dominant in the relationship, is a bit cartoonishly alpha; but there is motivation behind how he behaves, as we find out during the course of the story.

I truly enjoyed Bound by Deception, and I'm looking forward to reading the second book in the series, Bound to Him.  Ava March is a very good writer who's able to draw you into the story very quickly and make you care about her characters.

Other opinions:
Smexy Books

*This is a link to Amazon, but is not an Amazon Associates Link.  Also, I bought this eBook with my own monies.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Faith & Fidelity by Tere Michaels

faith & fidelity cover

Faith & Fidelity by Tere Michaels

First of all, let me say that I do not review books I don't finish. Ergo, this is NOT a review. Mkay?

Evan is a detective who lost his wife in a car accident. Matt is a former detective now working in security. When they meet at a retirement party, both feel a connection--in that neither of them are not happy people. They exchange numbers and are soon meeting for drinks. Suddenly, Matt finds himself sexually attracted to Evan. This is strange because Matt has only been attracted to women his entire life. But what the hey--Matt's lonely, Evan's lonely. Bow-she-bow-wow.

Here is my major problem with this book: I grew up around cops. I work with ex-cops, ex-MP's, and law enforcement everyday. So I knows me some cops. And there is no way in hell two heterosexual cops would ever behave this way. I'm not saying two cops would never find themselves attracted to one another; but the idea that they would 1. acknowledge said attraction, 2. further pursue said attraction, and 3. act on the attraction, and not freak the hell out like Natalie Wood in Splendor in the Grass, is quite honestly ridiculous to me.

Last week I reviewed Fatal Shadows by Josh Lanyon, which also has a (male) cop character who finds himself unexpectedly attracted to men. Does he acknowledge to himself that this makes him a homosexual? No. Would he rather die than have the other men on the force find out? Yes. As he says, it's worth his life to keep other people from finding out about it. And I'm sure in his mind it is. Cops tend to see things in black and white, right and wrong. So the detective's reaction in Fatal Shadows is much more believable to me than either Matt's or Evan's in Faith & Fidelity.

Other than that, the writing was decent. I felt like it could have been a touching story about two guys helping each other through difficult times in their lives--if not for the fact that the author forced them into a homosexual relationship. Am I the only one creeped out by this idea that everything in life has to be sexual? Is nothing safe?

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Monday, January 25, 2010

M/M Romance: A Gay Man's Perspective


Today Ryan from the fabulous Wordsmithonia is visiting. I knew he would write a great post about m/m romance as soon as I read his comment on my introductory post to m/m month, and he did! Welcome, Ryan!

When Tasha was talking about doing a m/m romance theme for the month of January I have to admit I was, not necessarily surprised, but maybe a little curious about it. As a gay man it never dawned on me that there was a growing genre of books out there that are written by women for women that highlighted male/male romance and sex. To tell you the truth, I'm still a little puzzled by the whole thing. As a gay man, I know why I like reading about two (sometimes more) men in a relationship or just going at it like two horny teenagers in the back of dad's car. It's what I am, it reflects who and what I find emotionally and sexually attractive. It's easy for me to put myself in the situation I'm reading about and understand exactly what is going on. I'm still a little curious about how/why a woman is interested in the same thing.

I first started to get a inkling of straight women being interested in stories involving gay men when the US version of Queer as Folk debuted on Showtime. I had so many of my straight female friends telling me how sexy it was to watch two attractive men kissing or having sex. When I would ask them about it they would simply shrug their shoulders and say something along the lines of "We find sexy men hot, so why not two sexy men together," or "Straight guys like it when two women are together, so why should it be any different?" To be honest I never gave it that much thought because I had and still do have some odd friends so I just chalked the whole thing up to that.

false colors cover

Then about a year ago I was in Barnes & Noble, and while I was leaving two book covers on one of the new release tables caught my eye, so I stopped and picked them up. They were False Colors and Transgressions. Two things immediately caught my eye about them, one was that the covers looked like typical romance covers but they featured two highly attractive men and no women. The most striking thing to me, though, was the fact that they were written by women; and from what I read the books were aimed at straight women not gay men. I can honestly tell you that this was the very first time I had ever seen something like it; so when I got home I logged onto the Barnes & Noble book club site, went to the Romance Board, and asked about it (here is the link for that discussion). It was a long discussion but I heard some interesting comments by some women who actually write m/m romance, and they opened my eyes to the whole subject.

My hesitancy in reading these books myself is that I'm not sure a straight woman can really write a honest story about a gay, male relationship. To be honest I haven't really given them a try and they may be dead on. But as a gay man, I find it easier to read any depiction of a relationship between two men if the author is a gay man. The author is then able to write from a place that he not only understands and gets but has dealt with the same issues that characters will, including the sex scenes. To me, a gay male author will be able to write a sex scene that comes across as real since he knows all the aspects of gay sex.

Truthfully, though, I tend to go for the books that don't focus on the sex. I read more of what would be called the gay version of "chick lit": light, romantic comedy/drama with the occasional sex scene. I like books that focus on the relationship and how the couple either grows together or falls apart. Now most of my friends would tell you the opposite--they like lots of erotic scenes and the hotter they are, the better. One of my friends tends to go for the erotic anthologies over a book that actually has a plot line to it. I guess that's what makes this such an interesting genre to talk about: there are books and authors to fit everyone's taste and sensibility.

So I'm going to wrap this up with some reading suggestions for anyone interested in the m/m books I read over and over again, and a question for everyone reading this. I will go with the question[s] first--if you are a straight woman, what do you like about m/m romance books? What got you to read your first one, and what gets you to read more of them? If you write m/m romance, what set you on that path? Is there a book, author, or series you would recommend to someone like myself who hasn't taken the time to read a m/m romance written by a woman? If you are a fellow gay man, have you read any m/m books written by women; and if you did, what did you think of the perspective brought by a female author?

i'm your man

Here are two of the authors I've enjoyed in the past. Michael Thomas Ford has written a couple of stand alone novels that focus on a group of friends as they deal with new relationships and finding love in today's world, he also writes/edits erotica as well. Timothy James Beck is actually a group of four authors who have written a series of books that deal with thee same group of friends/relatives and each book tends to focus on a different person/relatioship.

last summer cover

So I will end this here by welcoming any comments you have to say. I'm really interested in hearing everyone's opinions on what I wrote and the subject of m/m romance in general. I also want to thank Tasha for the opportunity to do this guest post on her blog. I'm really honored that she asked me since she is one fantastic blogger.

Thank you so much for the fabulous guest post, Ryan! I'm planning on answering your question in my wrap-up to m/m month, but as always I'm curious to see how others answer your questions.

So what say you, lovely readers?

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Fatal Shadows by Josh Lanyon

fatal shadows cover

Fatal Shadows by Josh Lanyon

The first book in Lanyon's Adrien English Mystery Series does a good job of establishing the main characters, and I definitely want to read the second book.  The mystery was a little thin, though, and the book could have used more sleuthing and less set-up.

Adrien (with an e) English is a L. A. bookseller specializing in gay mysteries.  When his only employee and old friend, Rob, is found murdered, Adrien is the primary suspect.  This throws him into the path of homophobic police detectives Riordan and Chan, as well as journalist Bruce.

Although this book wasn't quite as good as The Dickens With Love (I liked the main characters in that book more, and it was more tightly plotted), Lanyon impressed me again with Fatal Shadows.  This novel is smart and funny, but isn't a light fluff read by any means.  The characters deal with serious issues in a realistic and believable way.  For example, one of my favorite lines is, "People don't see you.  They see their perception of you.  They see what they want to see."  People's perception of Adrien as a homosexual man definitely defines his relationships with those around him--Rob's wife can barely look him in the eye, and to his writer friends he's, "The Gay Friend."  But this definitely doesn't make Adrien an object of pity or pathos--instead, his life is treated with a dark, sharp wit that carried me through most of the book.

Unfortunately, I don't think these insights into Adrien, his character, and his relationships was successfully integrated into the mystery.  There's also a bunch of random, literary-sounding quotes (one of which is the source of the title) which are never really explained.  Although Adrien does do some sleuthing, he's not particularly good at it, and the murderer literally pins him down before he's identified. 

But as this is the first book in the series, I'm going to give Adrien a pass on his lame detecting skillz and hope that they improve in the future.  Fatal Shadows was, for the most part, definitely a book worth checking out.

Other opinions:
Smexy Books (really a review of The Dark Tide, the last book in the series)
Dear Author

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Books for Non-Readers

pleasure/reading Image by CarbonNYC

Lately I've been pressed repeatedly into buying bookish gifts or giving recommendations for books to people who don't read.  This got me wondering, how on earth do you pick out books for people who don't read?  Isn't that trying to sell lightbulbs to the Amish?  Here are two methods I usually employ:


Most people watch them.  If you know what kind of movies they like, you can make an educated guess about what sort of stories they might like to read.  Of course, this isn't fool-proof.  Case in point:  I generally hate romantic movies, but love love love romantic books. 

Some books also become movies.  There are a lot of film fanatics who only read books that have been made into movies.  Likewise, there are a lot of book fanatics who insist on reading a book before or after seeing its movie version.  I have never been one of these people.  I have, however, watched a movie and thought to myself, "Gee, this would make a great book!  Wish I was reading it right now."


Did you know the majority of books aren't novels?  I know; it amazed me too.  But apparently there's a whole army of people who read just for facts and not for pleasure!  How weird.  If the person you're shopping/rec'ing for has an interest, non-fiction might be the way to go.  But beware picking random books off the bookshelf!  While you might luck out and pick the best book evar, if it turns out to be a dud, you want a more plausible explanation than you just closed your eyes and reached your hand out.

Have you ever had to pick out a book for someone who wasn't a reader?  How did that work out?

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The New Dickens

dickens dreaming 'Dickens' Dream' by R.W. Buss

There's something I've been noticing lately--Charles Dickens is back, baby.  That guy is all over the place!  From numerous reimaginings of his books (although none with zombies or vampires yet, thank god--A Tale of Two Sea Monsters?), to book bloggers who go gaga over him, it seems like Dickens is definitely experiencing a resurgence in popularity.

This got me to wondering, who is the Dickens of our generation?  Generation--heck, century!  His career was marked with:
  • Long-ass books
  • Lots o' paper (of the currency variety.  Also, books--see above)
  • Celebrity status
  • Many adaptations
  • Public readings
  • Books have broad social implication and appeal
  • Fuses or uses many different genres together (cause of broad appeal?)

As far as I can see, there are three authors who could possibly make a claim at being this century's Dickens:

under the dome cover

Stephen King

Long-ass books?  Check.  Numerous adaptations?  Mais oui.  Celebrity status?  Indeed.  The only thing that might prevent King from being the next Dickens is the fact that, despite the fact that his books are always about different things, they pretty much stay in one genre--horror (they do, right? I have never read one of his books, sooooo--so much for the broad appeal/social implications I guess).

J. K. Rowling

J. K. Rowling

The author of the global phenomenon that is Harry Potter definitely has the long books, mo' problems to go with her mo' money, celebrity, and adaptations covered.  And despite the fact that her books are all middle-grade or YA, they definitely have wide appeal and social implications (although broad implications might be putting it a bit strongly).  The only thing that gives me pause in dubbing her the new Dickens is that she's only written one series and created one world--a big world full of characters, true, but only one nonetheless.  Dickens created bunches (as evidenced by the drawing above).

drood cover

Dan Simmons

Simmons is definitely not on par with Rowling and King when it comes to celebrity status and bringing in the cheddar, but I had to include him because I think he is the only writer out of the group who is actively gunning for the position of this century's Dickens.  His novel, Drood, was all about Dickens and the awesomesauce on top of om nom taters that was his writing (and it was a long-ass book).  Furthermore, it was a blend of many different genres--horror, mystery, some romance--everything a person could want.  I'm not sure if Simmons is in for the Dickens-izing for the long haul, but he was definitely trying to channel him in Drood.

In the end, though, it doesn't matter who the next Dickens is.  What really matters is that, over 100 years after Dickens' death, we not only care about him; we care about the art form that came into its own while he was alive.  Despite eReaders, TV, intrawebs, wikipedia, and Dragon Age: Origins, people still read!  They still care about books and want to lose themselves in a good story!  Novels aren't dead--and neither, apparently, is Charles Dickens.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Obligatory Mystery Readathon Wrap-Up

miss marple rulz

Well, the Mystery Readathon ended, um, Sunday.  I read for about eight hours and finished one book, Some Girls Bite (which I was actually already halfway through when the readathon started).  So... yikes!  Not much reading done. 

To be honest, I was feeling insanely tired of reading by Sunday.  I have obviously not been reading very much lately, no?  But on the plus side, once I started Josh Lanyon's Adrien English Mysteries, I felt myself getting a second wind.  Maybe I was just feeling a lag because I had finished Some Girls Bite and that's a pretty good book (stay tuned for a review on it and Friday Night Bites by me and Colette from A Buckeyegirl Reads).

I obviously need to go into some sort of reading training.  How am I going to go back to grad school and survive if I can't read for days on end?

The readathon itself was pretty quiet.  It seems like every time they have it, it gets more and more low-key.  Not much activity on twitter or blogging-wise.  This definitely gives one more opportunities to read, but isn't as much fun as the big Dewey's Readathon.  Oh, and someone realllllly needs to come up with a Mystery Readathon button (I suppose that will be me, since I'm the only one bothered by it ^_^).

So, that was my weekend.  Did you get any reading done in the last few days?

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Monday, January 18, 2010

An Introduction Into M/M Romance by Orannia

m/m month

Today one of my favorite bloggers, Orannia from Walkabout, is here to talk about her earliest experiences with m/m romance. Hello, Orannia! I'm very happy to have you guest posting on my blog today.

When Heidenkind first approached me regarding a guest post for her M/M Month, my first thought was ‘Who? Me?’ followed closely by a panicked ‘But what will I say? After a considerable amount of introspection, I decided to go back to basics *grin* So, I asked myself the question I always ask when attempting to review a book:Where to start? But...with such a broad subgenre as m/m romance, attempting to answer such a question would be a monumental task. So, I decided to turn the question on myself.

Gay protagonists have been appearing in a variety of books for years, even before the m/m romance subgenre first took form. My first introduction to a gay protagonist was as a teenager. My best friend recommended Mercedes Lackey’s Magic’s Pawn, Magic’s Promise and Magic Price; together, these three books comprise a fantasy series entitled The Last Herald Mage. Ring any bells? While the sexual orientation of the main protagonist, Vanyel, is slowly revealed (to the reader and to Vanyel) in the first book (Magic’s Pawn), and while this revelation does lead to conflict, neither Vanyel’s sexual orientation nor the resulting hostility are the sole focus of the book. To all intents and purposes, the book is a fantasy novel; however, the author has weaved into the novel Vanyel’s struggle for self determination and self-acceptance. (That struggle is kind of a Mercedes Lackey trait.) As a teenager, I endured each and every step with Vanyel as he struggled to find himself... and the fact that his beloved, his soul mate, was male and not female was, for me, both a simple point of fact and a turning point – it made me realize that the sexual orientation of a character was not how I measured their worth. It was part of who they were, yes, but not all of who they were (if that makes sense).

Magic's Price

Mercedes Lackey is not the only fantasy author to introduce a gay protagonist; last year I discovered some new-to-me authors, including Ginn Hale, Jaida Jones & Danielle Bennett and Sarah Monette, all of whom have written gay protagonists into their novels.

have mercy cover

wicked gentlemen cover

melusine cover

Each of the above novels, and each gay protagonist within each novel, is very different, with the approach to each relationship varied. However, in all cases the relationships are organic – part of the story, but seamless. I could wax lyrical about both Ginn Hale’s Wicked Gentlemen and Sarah Monette’s Mélusine (the first book in The Doctrine of Labyrinths). Both authors have written what I consider to be dark fantasy novels... and while the gay protagonists contained within are broken to a greater or lesser degree, like Vanyel, they are, unlike Vanyel, characters who have accepted their sexual orientation. And thus, the perspective we, the reader sees, is different again.

Attempting to read a new genre or subgenre can be daunting, especially if you are unsure as to whether or not it will appeal. Sometimes it helps to test the waters (so to speak) by dipping your toes in by way of a genre with which you are already familiar and comfortable *grin* From where I sit, fantasy novels provide the bridge; they allow me to determine, in a setting completely outside current (read here and now) parameters, whether or not I am comfortable with a particular issue (whatever it is). Perhaps (to keep with the same analogy), for those of you who have yet to dip your toes in the subgenre that is m/m romance and are unsure whether that may be a step too far, a more familiar genre (whether that be fantasy or mystery etc.) might be the stepping stone to deciding if m/m romance is a subgenre you might be interested in exploring...or not. Happy reading!

Heidenkind - thank you for inviting me to post my first ever guest post as part of your M/M Month – I’m very honoured and I’ve had so much fun!

Thank you, Orannia! As always you've given me some great recommendations--I think Magic's Price sounds like a must-read! And thank you so much for joining me for M/M Month and writing such a wonderful guest post.

Please take the time to check out Orannia's wonderful blog, Walkabout!!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Mystery Readathon--Sunday Update

sherlock holmes Image by <<graham>>

Well, I finally finished Some Girls Bite--at about 8 hours, it took a loooooong time.  The last fifty pages especially seemed to take forever.

I think it's pretty clear that whatever reading muscles I had have seriously atrophied in the last few months.  I'm not sure I can go on. *headdeskrepeat*

Anyway, enough whining from me.  Now that I've finished Some Girls Bite, it's time to move on to another book.  I'm thinking the Adrien English books (even though, to be entirely honest, I am not in the mood for m/m romance right now).  Or maybe I'll just get my phone fixed on Verizon.  Stay tuned to find out which....

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Saturday, January 16, 2010

Mystery Readathon Meme

nancy drew book Image by Lall

A few questions for the Mystery Readathon before I get started:

Give us 5 fun facts about you.

Um, I like to read?  Oh, wait, you already knew that.

  1. The first book I ever read was Bunnicula.
  2. My favorite holiday is Valentine's Day.
  3. When I was 19 I shaved my head.
  4. I hate painted fingernails but love painted toenails.
  5. Dusting is my least-favorite chore, as evidenced by the amount of dust around here.

Did you participate in the Mystery Readathon in the past?


Can you give the new participants any tips on what to do and what not to do?

Tell people you're busy.  Don't make plans.  Convince someone to cook for you or order in pizza.  Get up every two hours and stretch.  And pick short-ish books so you don't feel like you're spending all your time on one book.

What is in your TBR stack for the next two days?

A lot of m/m romance/mysteries.  Plus I need to finish Some Girls Bite before I move on to anything else (UF can pass for mystery, right?).  I blogged about my goals in more detail in the introductory post I wrote last night.

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Mystery Readathon!

pile o nancy drew books Image by Lall

I'm pretty excited for this weekend's Mystery Readathon, which lasts from Saturday through Sunday.  Why?  Well, for once, I have the entire weekend off!  Hooray!  That means I can spend the entire weekend reading if I want.

What do I plan to read?  Seeing as how it's still M/M Month and I've yet only posted one m/m book review, I think I'm going to focus on that.  I bought the first two Adrien English mysteries by Josh Lanyon, and two books by Tere Michaels (they're about cops, so I figure they have to have some sort of mystery going on in them, right?).  If I get through those, there's always Silent in the Grave or a Laurie R. King mystery.

My goal is to read at least 12 hours, although 24 hours total would be awesome.

Want to join in?  Go to the Mystery Readathon website to sign up!

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Caridad Pineiro on M/M Romance

sins of the flesh cover

Today I'm happy to have Caridad Piñeiro, author of Sins of the Flesh, guest posting on my blog. In honor of M/M Month, Caridad is giving us her opinion on m/m romance. But first, here's a short blurb about Sins:

Caterina Shaw’s days are numbered. Her only chance for survival is a highly experimental gene treatment – a risk she willingly takes. But now Caterina barely recognizes herself. She has new, terrifying powers,an exotic, arresting body — and she’s been accused of a savage murder, sending her on the run.

Mick Carrera is a mercenary and an expert at capturing elusive, clever prey. Yet the woman he’s hunting down is far from the vicious killer he’s been told to expect: Caterina is wounded, vulnerable, and a startling mystery of medical science. Even more, she’s a beautiful woman whose innocent sensuality tempts Mick to show her exactly how
thrilling pleasure can be. The heat that builds between them is irresistible, but surrendering to it could kill them both . . . for a dangerous group is plotting its next move using Caterina as its deadly pawn.

Welcome, Caridad!

There’s a new kid in town . . .

Actually M/M romance (Male/Male for those unfamiliar with the term) has been around for some time, but in recent years its popularity, particularly with women, has been growing steadily.

Much like the romance genre from which it came, the basic payoff in an M/M romance is a happily-ever-after only this time the happiness comes for the two male leads in the story.

I had heard about the genre many years ago and had a greater opportunity to find out more about it during a road trip to the RT BookReviews Convention with my friend and fellow author Rayna Vause ( As Rayna was kind enough to share with me then and more recently, “I discovered a wealth of very talented writers in the genre. Plus M/M romances are as satisfying and sexy as traditional romances.”

Luckily for me, my good friend Jamieson Wolf was kind enough to offer up some of that sexy and satisfying romance during a recent visit to my blog ( Like any traditional romance, Jamieson’s work had that immediate thrill of first encounter and the promise that love was on the way.

Although I haven’t had a chance to include M/M in any of my novels[1], like any writer I am open to trying new things. In fact, I’ve had instances of Female/Female interactions in several of the novels in THE CALLING vampire series. Why? Because as both Rayna, Jamieson and so many readers of the genre know, romance isn’t limited to just heterosexual relationships.

I’m looking forward to seeing what develops in this genre and whether more of it will make its way into traditional romances.

For readers and writers who would like to get additional information about M/M romances, you may want to check out the Rainbow Romance Writers – the GBLT special interest chapter of the Romance Writers of America (

Thanks so much for letting me visit with you today!

[1] Some might wonder why I am not including FURY CALLS as a novel where I had an M/M story line. I’d like to point out that the M/M scenes in FURY CALLS involved instances of rape which is not the same as sex/romance. Rape is about control and violence and that is not representative of M/M relationships anymore than it is of heterosexual relationships.

Thank you so much, Caridad.

Interested in buying Sins of the Flesh?

And check out the other stops on Caridad's book tour:

Mon Jan 11: BronzeWord Latino Authors

Tues Jan 12:
Julia Amante

Wed. Jan 13th:
Latino Books Examiner

Thurs Jan 14th:
Babbling About Books and More

Friday Jan 15th: Heidenkind's Hideaway (that's me!)

Mon Jan 18: Una in a million

Tues Jan 19:
Pagan Spirits

Wed Jan 20:
Bergers Book Reviews

Thurs Jan 21:
Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell

Fri Jan 22:
Chasing Heroes

Thank you to BronzeWord Latino Book Tours for organizing this book tour and giving me the opportunity to have Caridad on my blog today!

ETA: For a chance to win a copy of Sins of the Flesh, and a Sins of the Flesh t-shirt, just leave a comment on this post. I will select a winner randomly on Saturday and inform them via e-mail. Good luck!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Artsy Wankers, Yuppies, Blood, and Crises.

many books Image by kennymatic

I'm so depressed right now. *sob* 

My last week in reading was the major suckage.  It seems like ever since Going Too Far, I can't finish anything. 

tigers and devils

It all started with Tigers and Devils, which I was reading for M/M Month.  This book is about an Australian Football player and an "artsy wanker" who fall in love.  I'd heard a lot of good things about this book, but to me it was just boring.  The writing was decent, but the actual love story was hi-LARiously conventional.  Also, am I the only one who has trouble picturing an artsy wanker as a football fan?  Because I've known a few artsy wankers in my time, and a-none of them were sports fanatics.  Of any sort.  Just saying.

practice makes perfect

I finally gave up on Practice Makes Perfect by Julie James.  It took me almost three weeks to hit the hundred page mark, and once I did, I realized I really didn't give a crap about the characters.  Maybe I would have if it didn't take me forever to read it, who knows.

blood noir

I also decided to eShelve my eBook, Blood Noir by Jesse Fox.  This is another M/M Month book.  I wouldn't call it good, per se, but it was quite enjoyable.  However, I had noooo idea where the story was going, and the endless banter between one of the characters (gay) and a side character (straight, as mentioned numerous times--methinks he doth protest too much?) was getting annoying.  What really put me over the edge, though, was that Stanza, my eReader program, completely erased the formatting for the book!  I never knew not having paragraphs could be so aggravating.  Does anyone know how to fix this?  Because I'm not sure I can read another book like that unless it's really short.

In case you think my bad reading streak is the books' fault, let me assure you that I don't think so.  I haven't even been able to concentrate on blog reading lately.  It almost feels like I've lost all desire to read. 

This is terrible.  I don't even know who am if I don't read!  Seriously, people, I feel like I'm going through a crisis.  And I'm not entirely sure what, or if, I'll be reading when I get out of it. :(

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(500) Days of Summer

(500) Days of Summer is a romantic comedy starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who wears almost as many ties as Simon Baker in The Mentalist; and Zoe Deschanel, who is clearly contractually obligated to sing in every single movie she's in (seriously, is that really necessary?  I know she sings in a band, but it's not like she's Mariah Carey and her voice is her best asset).  And it is very funny and very romantic, despite the fact that it's all about a break-up.

Tom works at a greeting card company and has a life-long obsession with finding The One, due to, if I remember correctly, too much British pop music and a total mis-reading of the movie, The Graduate.  One day Summer starts working at the card company as a secretary.  Tom does a Jim and spends most of his days at his desk, staring at Summer while he "works" and developing a stalker-ish obsession.  After they get drunk together, Summer decides he's interesting, makes out with him in the copy room, and they start sleeping together.  Tiny problem:  Summer doesn't want to be in a committed relationship.  Their story of true love is obviously headed to the crash & burn department, but Tom remains blissfully unaware of Summer's growing discontent. 

After she breaks up with him, Tom goes into a post-relationship tailspin that lasts about a FREAKING YEAR.  Out of proportion much?  He goes flipping insane and starts writing greeting cards like, "Roses are red, violets are blue... fuck you, whore."  I hate to say it, but... I do not think this person should be in a relationship.  Ever!  Yet through it all, Tom, and the audience, retain hope that he will somehow manage to get Summer back and they'll live happily ever after.

The summary for this movie makes it sound like it's depressing, but it's really not.  It's a lovely spin on the old romantic comedy formula that feels fresh and charming.  Paradoxically, by going through the most terrible breakup ever (even if it is all in his own mind), Tom gives us all hope that we will recover from our various relationship FUBARs to emerge smarter, better looking, and open to finding The One. 

Tom is a total beta-male, and there is definitely some gender role reversal going on with him and Summer.  She's the one who's afraid of commitment, who makes the first move, who is sexually daring and who decides when it's over.  I don't think that's played for laughs, though; it just makes sense within the context of the movie.

If I had to criticize one thing about (500) Days of Summer, it would be that Summer is totally objectified.  There are gorgeous, close-up shots of her knees, her smile, her eyes, her hair... plus her motivations and character are never really explained.  Why did she break up with Tom?  I don't know.  Maybe it was because he stared at her knees all the time!  The movie is told completely from Tom's viewpoint--in that way, it reminded me of High Fidelity.  But at least in High Fidelity you had women who had somewhat real personalities and their own wants and desires separate from those of the main male character.  I felt like Deschanel's role in this movie was mainly to look pretty and desirable so we'd all understand why Tom liked her.  Kind of annoying, that.

However, aside from that, this is very well-written, well-acted romantic comedy.  And, even though it's not a love story, I think it will make anyone believe in love (if they didn't before, of course).

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Monday, January 11, 2010

The Strongest Shape by Tessa Cardenas

Today, in honor of M/M Month, the lovely Mandi from Smexy Books (who inspired the theme for January to begin with) is taking it one step further with a review of a m/m/m book, The Strongest Shape by Tessa Cardenas*. And trust me when I say, this book sounds very very smexy:

the strongest shape

After his boyfriend breaks up with him, fashion photographer Caleb Moss finds himself alone in Los Angeles looking for work and friends. He finds both in a group of aspiring musicians, who offer help through their connections. But while building a strong friendship with Scott and Chris, a startling sexual tension flares to life among the three men, and Caleb is afraid the new friendships will fall apart.
It won't be easy for Caleb, trying to find his way when Scott and Chris invite him into their relationship. They face criticism from their friends, but they'll struggle to stay together because they have discovered a three-fold love.

I get many m/m recommendations from Jen at Well Reads and when I saw her review for The Strongest Shape and saw that it is a m/m/m that in her opinion is done quite well, I knew it was a book I had to read. I like reading a m/m/m to see how the dynamics of the relationship are going to work out. Will there be jealousy? Will one always feel left out? And we can’t forget, it is triple the pleasure in bed…..

Caleb, a fashion photographer has just
broke up with his boyfriend. He doesn’t know a lot of people in Los Angeles and finds himself very drunk at a club. The performer that night, Jason (a very heterosexual male), takes pity on him and drives him to his place and let’s him crash on his couch. The next morning Jason introduces him to a group of his friends, including Scott, another musician, whose boyfriend, Chris, is out of town at the moment. It doesn’t take long for Caleb and Scott to strike up a friendship, however, things become complicated when Chris gets back into town. Chris is extremely protective of Scott and wants Caleb out of the picture.

As they all start to tentatively hang out, Caleb grows on Chris and one drunken night, Caleb is allowed to watch as Scott and Chris get down and dirty. Although it is very awkward for all three of them in the next two weeks, Scott and Chris make a big decision – they want Caleb in their relationship, and not just to watch. They want him as a full-time partner.

The Strongest Shape
really does portray a m/m/m relationship that can work. In some other ménage books I have read, if one of the trio is not at home, the other two often take turns with each other. However, in this book, if one is not present, the other two wait. And with the nature of Caleb’s job, he is sometimes gone for weeks at a time. The first time he leaves he becomes very insecure because they did not discuss what would be happening between Chris and Scott. Caleb is so relieved to find out they are waiting, and when the time comes that they reunite, it is quite a smexy scene.

Because Scott and Chris already have an established relationship of four years, Caleb feels a little left out at some points. Scott and Chris always include him physically, but after being together for four years, Scott and Chris share looks and finish each other’s sentences and it takes Caleb awhile to get there.

It’s a fun relationship to read about – Chris is the alpha – extremely protective over
his boys” and marks them up good if he thinks someone has crossed the line. Scott is very submissive and is the “mom” of the relationship. Caleb is in the middle, maybe a little more dominant, but can take either role. He kind of just goes with the flow. I wanted to see a bit more spunk out of him, it sometimes felt he just glided along and did whatever Scott and Chris wanted him to do. I also would have liked to see the characters interacting more in their everyday lives, not just in the bedroom. The love scenes were hot and there was plenty of them, but maybe a glimpse into normal things they do during the day would have been beneficial.

The Strongest Shape is a solid m/m/m book and one that I recommend to any smutty heart out there.

Rating: 3 1/2 Stars

Thanks to
Heidenkind for having me today!

*This is an Amazon Associates link

Uno, Dos, Tres, Hecho!

bloggiesta finish

Bloggiesta is over, and I have to say I didn't get much done.  Woe is to me.  But!  I did get a new blog theme for 2010 up, and it is beautiful!!!  Thank you so much to Drea from Book Blather for helping me with the HTML for it.  So in case you visited today and said to yourself, "Wow!  It looks like someone knows what they're doing."  Yeah, that would be Drea. :)

Beth from Beth Fish Reads gave us all a mini-challenge to clean up our labels so they're more user-friendly.  I didn't really accomplish this for the whole blog, but I did add labels to my old posts here, so people can find them.  I kind of went label-crazy for a few months there, but people will just have to deal with it.

Chelle from Tempting Persephone (great name for a blog, by the way) challenged us to feature the best posts on our blog.  However we defined "best" was up to us.  This was pretty difficult, as you can probably imagine.  But I picked out several favorites: 

And finally, Jenn from Jenn's Bookshelves posted a great mini-challenge on a way to brain storm for post ideas!  Here is what you do:
  1. Set-up:  Get a piece of paper and draw five
    circles vertically along the paper.   In the circles, write the titles
    of your last five blog posts.
  2. Extend Your Posts: Take each post and brainstorm
    ways the post can be extended.  Answer a comment left on a previous
    post. Expand upon your answer. Expand upon an idea or opinion that you
    may have briefly mentioned in the previous post.  For each idea draw a
    line out from the circle, draw a square (or use a different color) and
    write the idea inside of it.
  3. Extend Further: This step is optional.  Expand upon the topics you have come up with and you’ll end up with even more post ideas!
Sounds simple, right?  I tried this exercise and here's what I came up with:

Books--I Do Not Haz Them
  • Giving books to non-readers
  • Review of the Sharon Shinn book I got (after I read it, of course)
  • Gift cards versus getting actual books: is one better than the other?
Two Classic Film Reviews
  • Review of 500 Days of Summer
  • The awesomeness that is Peter Lorre
  • Read Maltese Falcon and compare it to the movie
  • Women's roles in film (pretty broad, I know)
Harry Potter and the Kid Who Cried Wolf
  • Review of the next Harry Potter book I read
  • Is JK Rowling the 21st-century version of Dickens?
  • Dumbledore: how evil is he?
  • How long is too long for a book?
The Dickens With Love by Josh Lanyon
  • The next m/m book I read reviewed
  • DNFs from m/m month
  • M/M books-romantic?
Art History Challenge Update
  • Basically reviews of the books I'm planning to read for this, haha.
  • Updates on other posts participants have written.
This was really fun!  I have to recommend this to all the bloggers out there--I really did get some promising post ideas.  Thanks, Jenn.

Thus ends another Bloggiesta.  I blogged for about 13 1/2 hours, completed three (ish--give me a break Beth, please?) mini-challenges, and retooled my blog.  I know I did a lot less than some people, but I'm very happy with what I accomplished.  I can't wait for the next Bloggiesta!  Thank you again to Natasha from Maw Books for hosting it.  Hasta la próxima, bloggers!

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Saturday, January 9, 2010

Bloggiesta, Dias Dos


I think I am officially exhausting all my knowledge of Spanish during Bloggiesta.

Today is the second day of Bloggiesta, the blogging fiesta hosted by the wonderful Natasha of Maw Books. On day one I spent about four and a half hours (five and a half, if you count the count the hour after I said I was going to bed but stayed up going through the Bloggiesta RSS feed, instead) blogging. I didn't complete any of the minichallenges, although I got a start on the label challenge. Aaaaaaannd, I got a favicon! Wheeeee! I'm so proud of it. Isn't it bootiful?

My plans for today are once again pretty limited. I really do need to start going through my reader. And I would also like to finish up the label challenge and do the challenge where you highlight your best posts (that will fit in nicely with the label challenge).

I will also be DJ-ing Spanish music on twitter during the day. This is likely what will take up the majority of my time, as it is much more entertaining than going through labels.

Happy Bloggiesta, everyone!!!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Bloggiesta, Ole!


Okay, I am officially ready to start Bloggiesta now. Yay me!

For those of you who haven't read of Bloggiesta, it's a blogging party hosted by Natasha from Maw Books. My goals for this Bloggiesta are pretty modest, since I have to work this weekend and my brother is having his birthday today. Basically I want to give my blog a new look for 2010, and complete a few minichallenges. I also need to catch up on my reader--but then when don't I need to catch up on my reader?

If you want to participate, sign up on Maw Books, and follow #bloggiesta on Twitter. Go Bloggiesta!!!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Books--I Do Not Haz Them


From Booking Through Thursday:

What books did you get for Christmas (or whichever holiday you may have celebrated last month)?

Do you usually ask for books on gift-giving occasions or do you prefer to buy them yourself?

I didn't get any books for Christmas, believe it or not--well, unless you count the lovely Sharon Shinn book I got in the Book Blogger Holiday Swap, of course, which I certainly do! But from my friends and family? No. I got a gift card to Barnes & Noble (too bad B&N's website sucks with the gift cards, eh?), but no books.

Actually, though, I rarely ask for books. First of all, I usually buy the books I really want right away. I don't want to wait for a book, omg no. And as I have a whole slew of them, it's really impossible for anyone in the family--including my mom, who swaps books with me all the time--to know what I have and don't have, or what I've read. So the smart bet is generally on just giving me a gift card.

Not that I don't appreciated book gifts, of course!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Two Classic Film Reviews

In an effort to obtain new visual stimulation the other night, I hied off to the library and rented two super-old movies:

the italian job

The Italian Job

Almost everyone has seen the remake of this with Mark Wahlberg, but the original, starring a very young Michael Caine (he looks exactly like he does now, by the way, which is weird), is less well-known and at the same time more critically praised. I have to say, though, I thought it kind of sucked. Basically this is a giant commercial for Mini Coopers, which face off against Italian Fiats. Spoiler alert: the Mini Coopers win. I might care if I was British, but since I'm not....

This movie is seriously silly, and the ending is abrupt to say the least. I'd say skip it unless you have an obsession with either Michael Caine or British engineering (side note: I couldn't help but notice the Mini Coopers didn't face off against German cars. I guess Mini Coops crushing BMW would be too unbelievable even for this film).

the maltese falcon

The Maltese Falcon

I know, this is a classic. But I have never seen the whole thing until last week. This movie was pretty good, although it had absolutely zip to do with the Maltese Falcon. Sam Spade (aka Humphrey Bogart, who is the awesome) is a PI in San Francisco along with his partner, Miles Archer. One day a woman who is supposedly really hot (personally I didn't see the appeal AT ALL) comes into the office asking them to follow some sketchy guy who's dating her sister. Archer calls it, then gets shot on the job. Sam isn't too broken up about this. Apparently Sam is a playa playa, since he was sleeping with Miles' wife and I'm guessing sleeps with the mystery woman client as well. Not that that has anything to do with the plot.

My favorite part of the movie was Peter Lorre as Joel Cairo. There's another actor who is the awesome! Why is he not in every movie I watch? He should be. The characters as a whole were wonderful; the plot was ridiculous/borderline indecipherable; and the extended metaphor about the Maltese Falcon being like love (the stuff that dreams are made of, etc. etc.) wasn't really convincing because the idea that Sam Spade is in love with crazy client bitch was laughable. But overall it was a good movie.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Harry Potter and the Kid Who Cried Wolf

goblet of fire cover

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling*

I remember the first time I read Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire very clearly.  It was one of the few times in my life that my heart actually pounded while I read a book--out of pure excitement and sympathy with the main character.  It was completely un-put-downable (I read all 700-ish pages in a single day), and the ending totally blew me away.  In other words, this is the book that turned me into a Harry Potter fan girl.

There's a theme running through Goblet of people who keep crying wolf and, as a result, no one ever believes them.  Mad Eye Moody is a perfect example, as is Harry himself.  Whether or not they've actually spotted danger seems incidental; just the fact that they are the ones that things happen to, and that point out the danger, is enough to make people brush them off and ignore them.  If there's one lesson in Goblet, it's that danger doesn't come from expected quarters or while you're watching for it.  Mad Eye Moody might preach constant vigilance (one of my favorite lines evar, btw), but people neither want to be, nor can they be, keen to every threat.

By the end of the novel, it's clear that illusion of safety is more important in most cases than actual security--but then no one can really provide safety, can they?  The people from the ministry go through a lot of trouble to make sure the participants of the Triwizard Tournament are "safe," but fail miserably every step of the way.  And some things meant to keep people safe, like the Dementors, are akin to making a deal with the devil.

When I mentioned I was reading Goblet on Twitter, Amanda from The Zen Leaf said she didn't enjoy it any more because of all the holes in the plot.  Me:  Holes in the plot?!?  I didn't notice any holes!  So, naturally, this made me look for the holes while I was reading.  And, I have to say Amanda was right; there are tons of plot holes littering Goblet.  The one that bothered me most had to do with Harry's placement in the Goblet of Fire itself--so, just to review, anyone can write down anyone else's name and put it into the Goblet, and the person would then be bound by a magical contract, even though they had nothing to do with signing up for the Triwizard Tournament?  That seems like a rather HUGE loophole in proceedings.  So, if that's the case, an older student could have just written a younger student's name down and dropped it in the cup?  Wouldn't you think that kind of issue would have come up before????

I didn't enjoy Goblet quite as much the second time around, but I did like listening to it on audio, which seems to be getting better and better as the books go along.  If there was a book I wish I could re-read as if it was the first time, this one would be it--it's just not as much fun when you know what the ending is going to be.  But it's still a good (if holey) story.

Suspicious Dumbledore moment:

"He said my blood would make him stronger than if he'd used someone else's," Harry told Dumbledore.  "He said the protection my--my mother left in me--he'd have it, too.  And he was right.  He could touch me without hurting himself; he touched my face."  For a fleeting instant, Harry thought he saw something like a gleam of triumph in Dumbledore's eyes; but the next second, Harry was sure he had imagined it....

WHAT THE HELL????  A gleam of triumph?  Dumbledoor is soooo in league with Voldemort.  I bet he had a secret affair with Voldy at some point, and that's why they hate each other so much.

harry potter challenge button

I listened to the audio and read this book as part of Galleysmith's fab Harry Potter Reading Challenge

*I got the audiobook from the library, and the book from my brother.  So no one's getting nothing, FTC.  Take that and shove it up your %&@^.

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