1-tie) Marie Sexton - Song Of Oestend
Paperback: 412 pages
Publisher: Total-E-Bound Publishing (October 26, 2011)
Amazon: Song Of Oestend
Great world building-- familiar enough to relate to, but with some interesting changes. I liked the mixture of modern with the generators and the old-fashioned windmills. I didn't think I'd like the main character Aren too much, but the author did a really great job of making him (all of them) multifaceted and interesting and he really grew on me the more he grew up. --Kirsten
Paranormal western. I wasn’t too sure at the beginning as I worried it would be a little too horror-like for me to enjoy & I’m not a big fan of alternative reality/sci-fi, but quickly grew to love it. --Juni
Symbols have power... Aren Montrell has heard tales of the Oestend wraiths - mysterious creatures which come in the night and kill anyone who’s not indoors. Aren’s never had reason to believe the stories, but when he takes a job as a bookkeeper on the BarChi, a dusty cattle ranch on the remote Oestend prairie, he soon learns that the wraiths are real. Aren suddenly finds himself living in a supposedly haunted house and depending on wards and generators to protect him from unseen things in the night. As if that’s not enough, he has to deal with a crotchety old blind woman, face “cows” that look like nothing he’s ever seen before, and try to ignore the fact that he’s apparently the most eligible bachelor around. Aren also finds himself the one and only confidante of Deacon, the BarChi’s burly foreman. Deacon runs the BarChi with an iron fist and is obviously relieved to finally have somebody he can talk to. As their relationship grows, Aren learns there’s more to Deacon and the BarChi than he’d anticipated. Deacon seems determined to deny both his Oestend heritage and any claim he may have to the BarChi ranch, but if Aren is to survive the perils of Oestend, he’ll have to convince Deacon to stop running from the past and finally claim everything that’s his.
Dusk Peterson - The Eternal Dungeon
Publisher: Love in Dark Settings Press (October 18, 2010)
Amazon: The Eternal Dungeon
Normally I don't feel much need to express my thoughts on the books I read beyond the score, but in the case of The Eternal Dungeon, I feel I should. It seemed on the surface, given its title and length, that it must surely be an extensive love letter to sexual horror, and reading through the table of contents seemed only to support this. You can imagine my astonishment to discover that it is in fact a deeply moving philosophical work, which yes, has both sex and torture in it, but surprisingly little of either despite the fact that it all takes place in a dungeon. The characterization is very good and even bold, and the world building, while narrow, is solid and hints at a vast and real world that exist beyond the confines of the story. The overarching plot development is excellent, and is an extensive metaphor for the major themes of the book. The writing is eminently readable, and the author's decision to intersperse in-story historical analysis alongside the events taking place works beautifully.
In the Queendom of Yclau lies an underground royal prison that embraces the worst of the past and the best of the future. The Eternal Dungeon is old-fashioned in its equipment and ahead of its time in its treatment of prisoners, seeking to put their best welfare above all else. Torture is part of the process of assisting the prisoners. The High Seeker, Layle Smith, embodies this contradictory institution: a man of deadly impulses, the head torturer binds himself strictly by the dungeon's code of conduct. His efforts to maintain this delicate balance are altered, though, by the introduction into his life of Elsdon Taylor, a vulnerable prisoner who is coming to terms with his own darkness. This 440,000-word omnibus contains four novels and a novella in The Eternal Dungeon, a historical fantasy series set in a land where the psychologists wield whips.
2) Jay Bell - Hell's Pawn
Paperback: 276 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace (July 27, 2011)
Amazon: Hell's Pawn
The author took what could have been overdone and cliche (war between heaven and hell) and gave it a really unique twist. All the different "heavens" were really well done, but what I thought was the most creative was the section of the story set in purgatory. I thought the characters were fabulous. They all seems to have a mix of flaws and heroic characteristics and I really liked that Bell thought of the animals and what happens to them after they die-- Bolo the seeker was really neat. --Kirsten
Beautifully intricate fantasy with complex characters & a great slant to the usual m/m tropes. Felt it stated a little slowly but picked up. --Juni
John Grey is dead... and that's just the beginning. Purgatory should have been a safe haven for souls that belong neither in Heaven nor Hell, but instead John finds himself in a corrupt prison, one bereft of freedom or pleasure. Along with his decedent friend Dante, John makes a brave escape, only to fall straight down to Hell and into the arms of Rimmon, a handsome incubus. John is soon recruited as Hell's ambassador, visiting the afterlife realms of other cultures to enlist an army strong enough to stand against Heaven. As interesting as his new job is, John's mind keeps returning to Purgatory and the souls still trapped there. Somehow John must stop a war he doesn't believe in and liberate Purgatory, all while desperately trying to attract the attention of an incubus whose heart belongs to another.
3) Lee Benoit – Moonspun
Publisher: Loose Id LLC (September 21, 2010)
I was surprised that I actually enjoyed this book. I didn't think I would but loved the characters. --Rachel
This story absolutely fascinated me... I was entranced from the moment I first began reading until the very last page. All the way through I needed to know more. It was a beautiful story. --Norma
Jamie Cowan hoped his new gig as playwright-in-residence at an urban theater would be the start of a new life -- a proud life out of the closet. Instead, he's stuck in student digs with oversexed roommates and a morose parrot. He's too intimidated by city life and city people to be honest about being gay, much less try to find a lover. Worst of all, he's blocked, unable to write, and in danger of losing his dream life before it even begins -- until an errand for the theater brings him face-to-face with the most beautiful man he's ever seen. Spider is a humble Dominican-American tailor. Meeting Jamie gives Spider a glimpse of a life -- and love -- he never imagined for himself. But Spider has a secret, and it's not that he's gay. Whenever the moon is high, Spider sits before his loom and weaves tapestries that predict the future. Spider and Jamie's mutual attraction is undeniable, but first they must overcome Jamie's closet and Spider's secrets. That's when they learn that their past fears are nothing compared to a new one: an arcane threat that will test Jamie's mettle and threaten Spider's very survival.
5) Cecilia Tan - The Prince's Boy
This story needs to come with a warning. *Do not read if you have any sort of cardiac issues* LOL. No, really. Brilliant from start to finish, but whew! What a marathon! You'd better train up for this one, or be prepared to read it in small bite sized pieces (if you can put it down, and yes, it is that good). There is graphic torture, rape, slavery, every form of questionable behavior one could think of. And with all that? A story not to be missed. By turns gritty and lyrical. It is the chiming of tiny crystal hand bells and the inescapable, thundering peal of the bells of Notre Dame. A powerhouse, a tour de force. --Cherie
6) Scarlet Hyacinth - Bed and Breakfast
This book started off slow but quickly became so engrossing I could not put it down and read straight through in a couple of hours. Yes, there are the usual vampire topes, but the fantasy world-building gives it a fresh and unique take. The world-building is wonderfully detailed and flows smoothly in the story. And what a romance! The sexual tension is thick enough to cut with a knife because our couple doesn’t jump into bed together on first site. It was delicious! The subtitle suggests a series that I will not hesitate to buy, and would love to see in print. This book has me looking for more by this author. --Jem
Good read, I really enjoyed the different take on vampires here. The plot and setting were very well written and it was a very easy book to read. Character development was especially good. --Perpetua
7-tie) Sasha L. Miller - Stolen Hearts
I really enjoyed this story. The world building was good, the characters were intriguing, and the conflict held my interest. --Cassandra
Amy Lane - Hammer & Air
Amazing story, and very well written. Strong narrative voice, and good dialogue along with great diction and dialect. A wonderful adaptation of traditional fairy tale and Gay romance. The story and plot are original, a BIG plus in this genre. The setting is magical and the love/sex scenes are organic and very steamy. If this one doesn't win, something's very wrong. --Tim
Kannan Feng - Lord of Misrule
Atia Selene is the premiere magical university on the continent, and Verity Fen is its brightest star. Handsome, spoiled, and too smart for his own good,Verity has his pick of his fellow students, breaking the heart of any young man who falls into his bed. One of the privileges of Verity's position is a servant who he treats with disdain, who may prove to be the one man Verity can't use and use up. Iskander cares for his master with grace, skill, and discretion, along with a heavy leather belt and a thoroughly commanding attitude.
10-tie) Kyell Gold - Isolation Play
Devlin Miski thought coming out on national TV would be the hardest part about being a gay football player. But it's when his press conference is over that the trouble really starts. The athletic tiger and his boyfriend Lee, a fox with a tongue as quick as his wit, still won't get many breaks in their fight for understanding. They'll need to deal with a stubborn reporter determined to get a story any way he can, furious parents, and hostile teammates--not to mention each other. All's fair in love and war--and this is both.
Brandon Witt - Submerging Inferno
I liked the creative idea of having a half-demon, half-mer hero, and there's plenty of action. --CassandraThis entry was originally posted at http://reviews-and-ramblings.dreamwidth.org/1358130.html.