Posts Tagged ‘pets’

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Reviewed by Elizabetta

IlluminationTITLE: Illumination
AUTHOR: Rowan Speedwell
PUBLISHER: Riptide Publishing
LENGTH: 307 pages
BLURB: Adam Craig is burned out. Lead singer of the hard rock band Black Varen, he’s tired of the empty life of groupies, paparazzi, and hotel rooms. Worse, a life in the closet. After the final concert of their latest tour, he flees the after-party in pursuit of memories of lost summers and carefree days, until he passes out on the patio of a shuttered lake resort.

Miles Caldwell is a brilliant artist, tied by agoraphobia and social anxiety to his family’s lodge. Alone but for his parrot, he spends his days illuminating manuscripts and hiding from the complexities of life. When he discovers Adam asleep in a deck chair, he’s furious but intrigued. Adam soon charms his way into Miles’ bed, and they lose themselves in a summer idyll, safe from the compromises and claims of reality.

But Adam’s life, with all its demands, is waiting for him. And Miles, uncertain of Adam’s true feelings, is battling demons of his own. Somehow, the man who’s never home and the man who never leaves it must find the strength to fight for a future together.

REVIEW:

Light, warmth, passion. And some turmoil to make the falling in love even sweeter.

I think I was smiling much of the time reading this.

Miles, is a gifted artist, he illuminates precious manuscripts, turning plain text into decorated works of art, much as church monks of the Middle Ages did before the time of the printing press. He makes his own period pigments, drafts the fancy lettering, and carefully paints in the elaborate embellishments. It’s like lush embroidery on paper. The addition of fine gold leaf elevates it, making the text glow. Miles loses himself in his work, quill in hand, working long hours to bring perfection to the page. His art helps him forget, keeps the fears at bay.

Adam, famous metal rock star, long-haired and golden-eyed music god, illuminates Miles. Fires him up, brings him back into life. Gives him companionship and hope. Adam is a jaded musician but he knows compassion and gentleness.

It is sweet reading, getting to know Miles and Adam. The author nicely balances that early glowing awareness the guys have for each other with the darkness always lurking for Miles… He has memory loss resulting from a horrific, long ago car accident that killed his parents. He’s recovered physically, but his fears have left him an agoraphobic recluse shutting himself away from the world on his lake-side family estate. Lucky for him, Adam, trying to flee all the rock-star crap, drops into his life. Adam sees the sweet guy beneath all the cranky. The mystery becomes how one guy tethered to his home, a prisoner to his fears, can make a relationship with another guy who is always on the move and lives hundreds of miles away.

I loved the set-up, the isolation of Miles and Adam at the lake house, the time they spend together, learning each other. It immerses them and the reader into a kind of dreamy other-world, intimate and protected.

“… he ran his fingers gently over Adam’s cheekbone, trailing them around this ear as if the curve of cartilage were something rare and precious… his eyes gone smoky blue and deep in thought, the way they did when he was thinking about his art. Adam felt… like Miles’s attention was on him the way a curator’s might be on a sculpture he was deciding to acquire.”

These two artists teach each other about their respective work– we feel Miles’s passion for illuminating, we learn about Adam’s obsession with musical theatre. They are awestruck, tender, and caring. They make each other laugh. It felt like falling in love as they fall in love. And yet…

The psychological trauma that keeps Miles shut away informs all his thoughts and actions. His memory loss disconnects him from his childhood when his artistic gifts were taking hold and moving in a different direction. The boy who created glorious paintings is now a man confined to copying an old art form.

“That’s all he does now, copy the way things were done five hundred years ago, as if reconnecting with someone else’s history makes up for lacking his own.”

It is a childhood lost; he is lost and can’t find his way back to a semblance of normal. The second half of the book takes a darker tone because of the limitations this puts on the guys’ relationship.

There are supporting characters, critical to the story, that deserve a mention. Lisa, Miles’s sister, is a caring, supportive force in his life; I really liked her in the story. Doug and Robert are a committed couple and childhood friends of Miles that have stood by him, giving him comfort in an unorthodox way. There’s also Grace, Miles’s African grey parrot, whose mimicking adds some laughs. The author does a fine job building these characters and weaving them into the story.

In general, the pacing is good, there were a few repetitive sections, and there is a lot of information given about the art of illumination, but I was happy for every page. I really got into these guys and their journey. This is not just a fluffy romance. Miles has serious issues that give the piece a dark edge… and yet it is infused with hope and light.

Elizabetta’s Rating:

BUY LINK: Riptide  ::  Amazon (Paperback)

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Elizabetta is one of the official reviewers on The Blog of Sid Love.

To read all her reviews, click the link: ELIZABETTA’S REVIEWS
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ROWAN SPEEDWELL

Rowan Speedwell lives in a tarpaper shack in the North Woods, without so much as cable TV to keep her warm. Compared to her, J.D. Salinger is an extrovert. She is allergic to publicity and loathes marketing, so her books only sell one or two copies. If you have one, she thanks you, as your purchase enables her to buy cat food for her diabetic feline companion, Kimball O’Hara.

She does have internet, when she hikes to the top of the mountain and fires up her PC Jr., so visit her website or follow her on Twitter at @rowanspeedwell if you need to request a refund for the one book you did buy.

⊹⊹⊹⊹⊹⊹⊹⊹⊹⊹⊹⊹⊹⊹⊹⊹⊹⊹⊹⊹

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Reviewed by Nikyta

five-stars120205

Hanging by the MomentTITLE: Hanging by the Moment
AUTHOR: H. B. Pattskyn
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
LENGTH: 350 pages
BLURB: Pasha Batalov has lived his whole life doing what a good son is expected to do. He dropped out of school to help run the failing family restaurant, and ever since he’s put up with his difficult business partner, who also happens to be his father. And, of course, he keeps his sexual orientation a secret from his conservative Russian family. After being closeted costs him his first serious relationship, Pasha resigns himself to one-night stands and loneliness.

But after a chance encounter with lost delivery truck driver, Daniel Englewood, Pasha starts to question all of his assumptions about life. Daniel is sweet, funny, smart, drop-dead gorgeous—and for the last six years, he’s been living with HIV. Pasha worries that he won’t be strong enough to help Daniel if HIV turns to AIDS, but he can’t walk away from their deepening attraction. He also doesn’t know if he can be strong enough to face the hardest task that a relationship with Daniel demands: coming out to his family and friends, and risking losing everything else he holds dear.

REVIEW:

I first got acquainted with H.B. Pattskyn’s books when I read Heart’s Home in early 2012. I loved that book and thought the writing was phenomenal. When I noticed Hanging by the Moment, I knew immediately I wanted to read it not just because I enjoy Ms. Pattskyn’s writing but also because the blurb intrigued me.

I’m ecstatic to say that I loved this book just as much as I loved Heart’s Home. The writing was just as great, so much so that I was enamored with the story and once I started, I didn’t want to put it down. I couldn’t wait to see what Pasha and Daniel go through, how certain situations played out and whether or not Pasha will have the life he always wanted.

To be frank, this is a story about life being too short to fight or to worry or to even get hung up on the little things. It’s about living in the moment and taking chances you wouldn’t normally take because anything can happen tomorrow but today is what counts. It deals with a lot of issues such as coming out, HIV, gay-bashing, homophobia and ultimately sticking up for yourself and living the life you want to live but also about accepting who you are. It was a beautiful story that had me sad and crying one moment then happy the next.

Pasha is an unconventional character. He has a lonely life filled mostly with working in his family’s restaurant every day and fighting with his father constantly. He stresses over his weight and the fact that he’s in the closet and doesn’t think he’ll ever be happy. It’s sad but I connected with Pasha and I enjoyed the fact that he had issues with his weight. He would start a diet then something would happen so he’d eat a carton of ice cream to drown his sorrows. When he meets Daniel, there’s an instant attraction but Pasha doesn’t think Daniel would ever look at him twice… until Daniel comes back to his restaurant to see him.. except Pasha freaks out and pushes Daniel away and then regrets it later. Poor Pasha! He just has no self-esteem 😦

What I really loved, though, was the fact Daniel didn’t give up. Daniel might be this incredibly attractive Native American but he sees Pasha for more than just his waist size and thinks Pasha is gorgeous inside AND out. I loved that while Pasha wanted to lose weight, Daniel made every effort to let Pasha know that his weight didn’t matter to him even to the point of pushing Pasha into ordering what he really wanted and not some bird ford. It was sweet and made me fall in love with Daniel. More than anything, I liked the balance between Daniel and Pasha. We get Pasha’s troubles and we get Daniel’s troubles in their own time. I loved experiencing the emotions between Pasha and Daniel over Daniel’s HIV; from being freaked out to wary to scared to accepting but also the fact that Pasha eventually realizes that no matter why Daniel is with him, Daniel’s feelings and emotions are genuine and not a result of some bad luck (you’ll understand this when you read the book). It wasn’t just hard on Pasha because he didn’t want to lose someone he was growing to love but also on Daniel who had a constant fear that he would get Pasha sick or Pasha would see him in a different way and then leave Daniel. It’s heart-breaking if you really let yourself get into the story but it unfolded in a way that was enjoyable without being too overwhelming or too dense. It was just right, IMO, but mostly the fact that even when one of them freaked out, they eventually talked about it and got through their issues together.

My only issue with the story is that I felt the beginning was a bit rough. Pasha is very self-degrading. He doesn’t think highly of himself because of the situation he’s in and the way he’s been acting since he broke up with his ex, who he was still yearning for. When he meets Daniel, he can’t understand why Daniel likes him because Pasha thinks he’s unattractive since he no longer has a size 32 waist. In the beginning, it’s rough because it’s almost as if Pasha hates himself or at least his life. So, for me, it was brutal to see him debase himself in some ways (although it’s not extreme just sad) and some readers might have a hard time getting through this. However, as the story progressed, I couldn’t help but love Pasha. He doesn’t want much in his life except to be loved and respected by his father AND to have a man that loves him. Thankfully, he gets that in Daniel!

I will warn some readers that Pasha and Daniel move a little fast when it comes to love but, to me, it fit the story well. I enjoyed the intensity between them and I felt the love that they developed. I liked that they took things slow when it came to sex because of Daniel’s HIV but I also liked that their feelings for each other are shown and we get to experience every step of it. They call, they text, they go on dates, they even have some fights and we get to see it. It helped me connect with the characters, to get to know them in a way that had me very invested in the story.

With that said, this was an amazing novel that I loved reading. It’s sweet, intense and at times sad. I cried, I laughed and I fell in love with the characters and their journey. I even adored the secondary characters that weren’t so nice. I love Ms. Pattskyn’s writing and I really hope we’ll one day get more of either Pasha and Daniel (especially to meet Daniel’s family) or at least see the journey of another couple (*cough* Brett and Mark *cough*). For those readers looking for something that handles a range of issues that has a little angst but a happy ending, try this one because it was definitely something I enjoyed every step of the way!

BUY LINK: Dreamspinner Press  ::  All Romance eBooks

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Nikyta J. is one of the official reviewers on The Blog of Sid Love.

To read all her reviews, click the link: NIKYTA’S REVIEWS
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Reviewed by Nikyta J.

five-stars120205

TITLE: Thick as Thieves
AUTHOR: Tali Spencer
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
LENGTH: 200 pages
BLURB: After Vorgell the barbarian fucks himself with a unicorn horn, he ends up in a cell with Maddog, a pretty young thief. It’s lust at first sight for Vorgell—but honestly, he can’t help it. Unicorn horn is a potent aphrodisiac, and now he can’t stop thinking about sex. Luckily, Madd is one male witch who knows how to put Vorgell’s new magical body to good use when he tricks Vorgell into a kiss that helps them escape.

Vorgell may desire sex in general—and Madd in particular—but Madd has no intention of being screwed by a man twice his size. He has problems of his own, including an enchanted collar that causes him to desire his most hated enemy. He wants that collar off as soon as possible, but that requires stealing a basilisk egg from the castle they just escaped.

Drawn together by lust and magic, the two men join forces and soon find themselves up to their necks in witches, wizards, and trouble. Vorgell and Madd might just be perfect for each other, but first they have to survive long enough to find out.

REVIEW:

When I read the blurb for this book, I knew right away it had the potential to be a wild ride. Any author that has the balls to have such an attention grabber for the start of a blurb was something that I wanted to read and I’m happy to say this book lived up to my expectations and more.

The story revolves around Vorgell, a brute of a man who unwittingly kills a unicorn, eats some berries and then becomes so horny he fucks himself with the unicorn’s horn. Now cursed with the unicorn’s magic, he’ll live the rest of his life unable to control his lust. Being jailed for his crime, he’s thrown into a cell with Maddog, a witchkin who’s forced to wear a love collar that binds him to the Baron. When they meet, Vorgell feels so much lust for Madd he’s willing to force himself on Madd but instead Vorgell settles for a kiss, turned bite, that Madd uses to tap into Vorgell’s new magic, allowing them to escape.

When their emotions settle down, they reluctantly decide to work together. Vorgell will help Madd break the collar while Madd will sate Vorgell’s constant lust. Unfortunately, to get rid of the collar, they’ll have to break back into the very place they just escaped from, steal an unhatched basilisk egg and do it all without getting caught. Madd attracts trouble, though, and things aren’t that easy. Now, they’re not just saving Madd from the Baron but trying to stop the wizards from increasing their powers through the Baron’s wife. With so many roadblocks, will they ever be able to succeed and gain their freedom?

I loved these characters. They were quite surprising from how they develop over the course of the book. Vorgell more than anyone because of his sexual appetites. Vorgell starts off as this mindless gigantic brute who will take what he wants and not care who he hurts in the process. He’s aggressive, forceful and quick to battle. He hates witches with a passion and vows to slaughter any he comes into contact with until he meets Madd. Madd is just the opposite, he’s small, determined and stubborn with no problems taking advantage of Vorgell’s magic. With his life, he needs to be in control. He’s a thief and has no loyalties to anyone, in fact, he pretty much hates everyone and couldn’t care less to help them.

As they work together, though, they form a bond that neither of them are willing to let go of. Now, Madd and Vorgell will do anything to stick together even if it means getting killed in the process. They develop a weird sense of honor but definitely form a bone-deep bond that allows them to trust and have faith in one another. It’s sweet, in a way, to see Madd go from something resembling a hissing cat to one who would do anything to keep Vorgell from getting used… at least from anyone besides himself. Vorgell is the same in that he won’t let anything happen to Madd. While they don’t necessarily love each other, there’s affection there and growing adoration that definitely could develop into love if their story were to continue further.

The world is quite amazing. I loved that it was so deep into the magical community centered on wizards and witches and the differences between the two while mixed in with an almost historical setting. The witches are women who believe that men are just tools to give them more magic and to create life while wizards are men who gorge themselves on all things related to necromancy, killing witches to strengthen themselves. Madd falls somewhere in the middle. He’s a witchkin which means he doesn’t practice necromancy but can’t necessarily create his own magic without refueling from an outside source, which generally means consuming living things. It’s a crazy world where magic is essentially part of everything. The journey Madd and Vorgell go on takes the reader deeper and deeper into the layers of witches and witchkin. It was fascinating for me because it provided enough information to stay interesting but not so much that it’s overdone and becomes too heavy in world building. It was a nice balance between adventure, affection and the overall world.

The only fault I found with the story was that some aspects of it are unresolved. Not majorly so but it’s left with a possibility of more to come for these two and I, for one, would be extremely happy if there were a sequel!

The book flows well from the start with an engaging first chapter that had me wanting to read more. The writing is smooth and has action interspersed throughout the whole story. When things would start to slow down, Madd and Vorgell would find themselves in another situation that required them to fight for their lives or go through dangerous territory. It’s filled with twists and turns but even while Vorgell and Madd develop, they never shed the criminal actions that got them caught in the first place. It was refreshing that they weren’t born again innocents but instead kept their gruff and dangerous exteriors. They’re completely hot together and I loved the ‘mastering’ (if you can even call it that) that takes place between the two. They’re very, very surprising characters and while I was afraid of the direction the story would take a few times, overall, I loved the way it was executed.

For someone looking for a true romance, you won’t find that with this story. This is pure fantasy with more of lust than love in the developing of feelings and companionship but you won’t find undying love in this book. It’s rich in a unique world, a fascinating journey and an interesting cast of characters and creatures. It was a fun, adventurous read that got intense at times but I’m so glad I read it because I loved it. I do sincerely hope there’s more to come of these two because I’d love to see what mischief Vorgell, Madd and Petal get into next. And if you want to know who Petal is… well, you’ll just have to read it and find out yourself!

PRE-ORDER LINK: Dreamspinner Press

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Nikyta J. is one of the official reviewers on The Blog of Sid Love.

To read all her reviews, click the link: NIKYTA’S REVIEWS
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