Reading Highlights of January 2015

I ran a post recently about the great audiobooks I discovered this year.  I listened and read eighteen books in January.  Way more than I had planned.  Most were short novellas.  I read several from the Dreamspinner anthology, Advent Calendar 2014 – Celebrate, which had stories set around the world. Of the five short stories that I read, two stood out.

Under a New Star by Leo d’Entremont

Under a new star by Leo d EntremontIn the 26th Century, mankind has breached the light speed barrier and begun to colonize other planets. They’ve also learned to Design human beings, known as Morphs, for specialized colony missions. Adrian is an Aerial Morph, on his way to colonize the low-gravity planet Eridani VI with his scientist Partner, Michael. In violation of the rules of the Morph Projects, they’ve been lovers for months. Michael cares more about his work than anything, while Adrian doesn’t take anything seriously except Michael. Before they arrive at their new home, they need to curtail their relationship before it destroys their professional Partnership.

The colony ship is scheduled to arrive at their destination on Christmas Eve. Some old holiday traditions persist, but when Adrian and Michael have differing ideas about what’s best for their relationship and their careers, holiday gifts and ideas for new beginnings lead to crossed signals.
4-star

This was a fun, light science fiction fantasy story and the cover is gorgeous!

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Hummingbird House by Kenzie Cade

Hummingbird House by Kenzie CadeTo honor his grandmother’s final request, Trenton Appleton drops everything to visit the family’s ancestral home: Hummingbird House, where he experienced his first kiss and first heartbreak with Callum Eason.

Eight years ago, confused by his attraction to Trent, Callum reacted badly. But with help he never expected, Callum found himself and learned to accept who he was.

Now Trent is back at Hummingbird House, and Callum has his opportunity to salvage their friendship, at least. But Trent is less receptive than he was all those years ago. Still, Callum is determined to show Trent he has changed and keep his promise to Trent’s grandmother. When past mistakes repeat themselves, Callum must break the cycle before his last chance with Trent passes him by.

4-star

The is a sweet romantic tale.  Trent’s coming home to honor his grandmother’s last wishes bring some good memories and some not as much.  Remembering first loves and also the heartbreak.  The main characters are engaging as well as Callum’s family.  A very enjoyable holiday read.

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I also read two K.J. Charles books.  A Case of Spirits (A Charm of Magpies 2.5) and Feast of Stephan (A Charm of Magpies 3.5)  If you love historical m/m romance or even if you think you don’t – like I used to – try this series.  Her writing is fabulous.

Here is the Goodreads link for the series: Goodreads-Review-Button
Overall rating for series: LYLBTB 50 star

The first book in the series:

The Magpie Lord cover  The Magpie Lord (A Charm of Magpies #1)

A lord in danger. A magician in turmoil. A snowball in hell.

Exiled to China for twenty years, Lucien Vaudrey never planned to return to England. But with the mysterious deaths of his father and brother, it seems the new Lord Crane has inherited an earldom. He’s also inherited his family’s enemies. He needs magical assistance, fast. He doesn’t expect it to turn up angry.

Magician Stephen Day has good reason to hate Crane’s family. Unfortunately, it’s his job to deal with supernatural threats. Besides, the earl is unlike any aristocrat he’s ever met, with the tattoos, the attitude… and the way Crane seems determined to get him into bed. That’s definitely unusual.

Soon Stephen is falling hard for the worst possible man, at the worst possible time. But Crane’s dangerous appeal isn’t the only thing rendering Stephen powerless. Evil pervades the house, a web of plots is closing round Crane, and if Stephen can’t find a way through it—they’re both going to die.

Warning: Contains hot m/m sex between a deeply inappropriate earl and a very confused magician, dark plots in a magical version of Victorian England, family values (not the good kind), and a lot of swearing.

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I also found a jewel from Kim Fielding, The Tin Box.  Beautiful, haunting, heart wrenching, lovely, sweet and heartwarming. It is one that will stay with me for a very long time.

LYLBTB 50 star

The Tin Box  William Lyon’s past forced him to become someone he isn’t. Conflicted and unable to maintain the charade, he separates from his wife and takes a job as caretaker at a former mental hospital. Jelley’s Valley State Insane Asylum was the largest mental hospital in California for well over a century, but it now stands empty. William thinks the decrepit institution is the perfect place to finish his dissertation and wait for his divorce to become final. In town, William meets Colby Anderson, who minds the local store and post office. Unlike William, Colby is cute, upbeat, and flamboyantly out. Although initially put off by Colby’s mannerisms, William comes to value their new friendship, and even accepts Colby’s offer to ease him into the world of gay sex.

William’s self-image begins to change when he discovers a tin box, hidden in an asylum wall since the 1940s. It contains letters secretly written by Bill, a patient who was sent to the asylum for being homosexual. The letters hit close to home, and William comes to care about Bill and his fate. With Colby’s help, he hopes the words written seventy years ago will give him courage to be his true self.

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Another fun read from January was:

The Back Up Boyfriend by River Jaymes The Backup Boyfriend by River Jaymes  4-star

Professionally, Dr. Alec Johnson has almost reached his goals. As this year’s recipient of a humanitarian award with his ex, Dr. Tyler Hall, Alec’s work with the homeless is about to be recognized. Unfortunately, his personal life sucks because now he has to attend several events alongside Tyler—with his ex’s new boyfriend in tow. In an attempt to lift his mood and break out of his rut, Alec purchases a motorcycle he has no idea how to start.

Dylan Booth doesn’t have time for Dr. Clueless and his fickle 1964 Harley, but the cocky mechanic can’t say no to the request for help. Having spent his teen years on the streets, and losing his best friend to HIV, Dylan decides teaching the do-gooder how to ride is the least he can do. But watching Alec flounder in his ex’s company throws Dylan into protector mode, and the confirmed hetero introduces himself as Alec’s new boyfriend.

The ex suspects Dylan is lying.

Alec claims Dylan’s plan is insane.

And Dylan’s not sure he can fake being gay.

But he’s a master bullshitter, and the phony PDA soon turns ultra-hot. Alec can’t afford to get attached, and Dylan’s learned everyone eventually leaves. Unfortunately, playing the backup boyfriend is starting to feel way too real…

CONTENT WARNING: This book contains Man-on-Man action, adult situations, and language.

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Review: This was a fun read. Not too much angst. The attraction between Dylan and Alec did not seem so much a gay for you formula but, to me, more Dylan dealing with some issues he had from his teen years. He had to come to terms about some things, as did Alec throughout the book. Noah was over the top but likeable and I am looking forward to his story. Tyler, Alec’s ex, was not as likeable, but I am curious how his story will go.
There are some cute scenes with Alec and his newly acquired, “I will show the ex how cool I am” motorcycle moments,and some very sexy scenes involving motorcycles… and grease (not what you think, lol)

Overall, this is a great book for a light fun, feel good read.

Lastly, I picked up a few books during a trial of Kindle Unlimited.

The Straight Guys Series.  This is a series of stories with overlapping characters.  The first starts in a prison setting, the second has a college professor /student pairing and the third has a threesome that goes awry.  The theme is gay for you and some were more intriguing to me than others.  I actually liked the third one best.

Straight Boy   Straight Boy (Straight Guys 0.5)   by Alessandra hazard  three-stars

Young, blond and handsome, Sage attracts unwanted attention in prison. When his cellmate offers him protection, Sage accepts the offer, even though he doesn’t trust the guy. Little does he know how much it will change his life.

When he’s released from prison, Sage finds himself needing and wanting things he shouldn’t want. Sage is straight. He really is. He has a girlfriend. What happened in prison stayed in prison–or so Sage tells himself.

Until he meets his former cellmate again. Xavier. The guy he hates and craves.

This short novelette contains explicit language and very steamy M/M sex. For mature audiences only.

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Just a Bit Twisted  Just a Bit Twisted (Straight Guys #1) by Alessandra Hazard  three-stars

Professor Derek Rutledge is hated and feared by all of his students. Strict, reserved and ruthless, he doesn’t tolerate mistakes and has little patience for his students.
Shawn Wyatt is a twenty-year-old struggling to provide for his younger sisters after the death of their parents. On the verge of losing his scholarship, Shawn becomes desperate enough to go to Professor Rutledge.
Everyone says Rutledge doesn’t have a heart. Everyone says he’s a ruthless bastard. Shawn finds out that everyone is right.
He strikes a deal with Rutledge, but unexpectedly, the deal turns into something so much more.
Something all-consuming and addictive.
Something neither of them wants.

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Review: Straight guys who are not so straight is the theme. 0.5 was prison setting, this one college – professor and student. Mix in dysfunctional families and four year old twins and the story has some points that make me grimace (especially with the kids) but the hot steamy sex was fun. Light, spicy, entertaining read. Entertaining enough to want to see what the next one brings.

Just a bit obsessed  Just a Bit Obsessed (Straight Guys #2) By Alessandra Hazard 4-star

Alexander Sheldon likes order and control in his life. He isn’t happy when his girlfriend invites another guy for a threesome. Alexander believes in monogamy, and he’s never been good at sharing his things. It doesn’t help that Christian rubs him the wrong way from the beginning.
But what starts as animosity turns into something else. Something unexpected and very wrong.
He was never supposed to touch Christian. He was never supposed to feel possessive of the guy. And he most definitely wasn’t supposed to want Christian more than he wants his girlfriend.
It’s a recipe for disaster.

Warning: some M/F/M sex.

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Review: Be careful what you wish for.

When Mila wants to try a threesome with her boyfriend and Christian Ashford (from the last book) she is all about two guys pleasuring her. Ok, we know how that is going to turn out. I enjoyed this one a bit more than the last book. It was not so much the straight guy , gay for you theme as much as an awakening. Yes, there is a dysfunctional past for Alexander and Christian affects him like no one else. It is romance, it is a light, quick read and it is steamy. We really get to ignore the pesky girlfriend most of the time even when she is in the scenes. Overall I think the relationship with her and Alexander was handled pretty well in the end.

There is a set up for the next book which should release sometime in 2015. I am looking forward to what she will do with Jared and Gabriel’s story. I was really not fond of Gabriel.

This book was by far my favorite and I will definitely read the next in the series.

To check out the series, click the Goodreads link below:

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I have already read five books for February and listened to two and I can’t wait to share them with you.  Until next month…

Happy reading,

Melyna

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Audiobooks – My latest Obsession

A friend of mine recently started listening to audiobooks and making suggestions for ones she thought I might like.  I tend to like the voices in my head just fine thank you, but I thought I would give it a try.

My first one was Shattered Glass by Dani Alexander, Joseph Northton (Narrator)

Length: 11 hrs and 16 mins A male prostitute, a mangy cat, a murder, and an obsession that threatens his career, his impending marriage and his life…nothing is going as planned for Austin Glass.

Austin Glass seems to have it all: a loving fiancée, a future with the FBI, and a healthy-sized trust fund. At least on the surface. He also has a grin and a wisecrack for every situation. But the smile he presents to the world hides a painful past he’s buried too deeply to remember, and his quips mask bitterness and insecurity. Austin has himself and most of the whole world fooled – until he meets a redhead in a pair of bunny slippers.

As events unfold in the biggest case of his life, Austin’s carefully planned future unravels, and he finds himself pushed into making quick, life-changing decisions. But can he trust himself or anything he feels, when each event seems to be just a series of volatile reactions?

©2012 Dani Alexander (P)2014 Dani Alexander

Shattered Glass by Dani Alexander Audible bookcover

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The narrator, Joseph Northton, captured the voices of the characters for me.  It was fun, engaging and I was laughing out loud while listening.  This is a book I have read more than once and I was afraid listening to it would ruin the voices in my head (those I had for the characters – lol)  I found it enhanced the experience.  I was so glad I took the plunge into audio.

 

This of course led me down the audio path and I jumped into a favorite series of mine :

The Cole McGinnis series by Rhys Ford.  Narrated by Greg Tremblay

The first book is Dirty Kiss

Dirty Kiss audiobook

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8 hrs 21 min

Cole Kenjiro McGinnis, ex-cop and PI, is trying to get over the shooting death of his lover when a supposedly routine investigation lands in his lap. Investigating the apparent suicide of a prominent Korean businessman’s son proves to be anything but ordinary, especially when it introduces Cole to the dead man’s handsome cousin, Kim Jae-Min.

Jae-Min’s cousin had a dirty little secret, the kind that Cole has been familiar with all his life and that Jae-Min is still hiding from his family. The investigation leads Cole from tasteful mansions to seedy lover’s trysts to Dirty Kiss, the place where the rich and discreet go to indulge in desires their traditional-minded families would rather know nothing about.

It also leads Cole McGinnis into Jae-Min’s arms, and that could be a problem. Jae-Min’s cousin’s death is looking less and less like a suicide, and Jae-Min is looking more and more like a target. Cole has already lost one lover to violence-he’s not about to lose Jae-Min too.

My review from Goodreads:

I have recently become a fan of audio books. I tend to enjoy the sounds of the voices I give the characters in my mind. I was strongly encouraged to give this book a try. I was reluctant because I had read the book at least twice before and felt a bit stubborn, thinking the voices would not meet my expectations.

When I started listening, I set aside my preconceived voices and listened with an open mind. I found that the voices were even better than what I had been imagining, especially Jae and Scarlet. I adored the voice for Claudia too. Over all it was a wonderful experience. I am very happy with the voice talents of Greg Tremblay. Outstanding.

The story itself is wonderful. It is vivid, humorous,sexy, fast paced and filled with a delightful and varied cast of characters. I have read the entire series and now plan to listen to them too.

Book Two:

Dirty Secret audiobook

amazonBuyButtonGoodreads-Review-ButtonMy full review can be read on the Goodreads link above.  But what the excerpt below really showed me how the experience between reading and listening can have some pleasant surprises:

“Having read the book before, I did not expect to have any surprises while listening to the audio version. I was so very mistaken. Several of the scenes that I remembered from the book were much more poignant when I listened to Greg Tremblay read those wonderful words that Rhys Ford has written. Greg captures the characters voices perfectly. I will also admit that hearing the Korean words pronounced correctly was a lot of fun too. I am much worse than Cole.  “

The next two in the series can be found here:

Dirty Laundry Rhys Ford Audiobook

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Dirty Deeds Audiobook

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And Hopefully, soon to be released as an audiobook, Down and Dirty Cole McGinnis #5.  I can’t wait!

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And last, but definitely not least:

Frog by Mary Calmes narrator: K.C. Kelly     amazonBuyButton

Frog by Mary Calmes  5 hrs 23 mins

Weber Yates’s dreams of stardom are about to be reduced to a ranch hand’s job in Texas, and his one relationship is with a guy so far out of his league he might as well be on the moon. Or at least in San Francisco, where Weber stops to see him one last time before settling down to the humble, lonely life he figures a frog like him has coming.

Cyrus Benning is a successful neurosurgeon, so details are never lost on him. He spotted the prince in a broken-down bull rider’s clothing from day one. But watching Weber walk out on him keeps getting harder, and he’s not sure how much more his heart can take. Now Cyrus has one last chance to prove to Weber that it’s not Weber’s job that makes him Cyrus’s perfect man, it’s Weber himself. With the help of his sister’s newly broken family, he’s ready to show Weber that the home the man’s been searching for has always been right there, with him. Cyrus might have laid down an ultimatum once, but now it’s turned into a vow – he’s never going to let Weber out of his life again.

Once again this narrator does a beautiful job of bringing the characters to life.  This story is one of my favorite feel good books.  It’s fairytale quality is the perfect pick me up and Weber and Cyrus are perfect together.

I hope you have found something in this post that sparks your interest in trying audiobooks.  I was hesitant and started with books I had already read.  I found it was a fun experience.  Even if you decide not to listen, take a look at these books, they are fun, entertaining and well written.

Happy Listening

Melyna

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