Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Book Review: Hero

Hero by Perry Moore
Gay Book Reviews/Young Adult, Gay Book Reviews/Fantasy
TITLE: Hero AUTHOR: Perry Moore
ISBN: 978-142310195-6 PUBLISHER: Hyperion Books

BOOK BLURB: At the same time that he's coming to terms with his sexual orientation, basketball star Thom Creed is trying to figure out exactly what his untrained superpowers can do. In an attempt to break away from his seemingly non-understanding father (an ex-hero with something to hide) and homophobic community, Thom runs away, only to find himself in the middle of a multi-hero rescue operation. Using his ability to heal, he keeps an injured woman alive until the League superheroes arrive and impresses them enough to get an invitation to try out for a hero apprentice position. Thom is teamed with an old woman who can see into the future, a spiteful girl who unleashes her power through fire, a sickly boy who is able to inflict disease on anyone, and a demoted hero with insane speed. With superheroes dying in mysterious circumstances, Thom is forced to admit publicly that he is gay in order to prevent a miscarriage of justice, but finds himself cast out of the League. He organizes his ragtag team to figure out what is really going on and to fight society's prejudices as well as the criminal element of the town.

BOOK REVIEW: Some reviews I've read have said that this book starts slow, but I found that not to be true. This novel packs in teen angst about fitting in, coming out as gay, coming out as a superhero and more. This novel packs in a great deal of story into 428 pages. Thom has to come to terms with his newfound realization of his sexual orientation as well as the fact that he has superpowers, which is made worse by the fact that his dad is a fallen superhero who is against super-powered people and gays, too. What a conflict for a young male teen? His mother abandoned him, so he has no one to turn to about these feelings he's having. Except for maybe a villain in disguise. Or is he the villain? I won't give it away. Read it to find out.

There's also a lot of superhero action on top of that. The reader will find great, quirky characters to adore, be aggravated by, and befriend. Great action that goes out with a boom. Relationships of all types will be tested in this story.

I hope the rumors are true that this one will be turned into a movie for the big screen. I'll be first in line for it.

I highly recommend this one for all ages, even though it's considered a young adult novel. Don't let that hold you back from diving into this one. It has action, adventure, friendship, and so much more.

Review by Fred Towers

Reprinted from Rainbow Reviews

Book Review: Simple and Easy

Simple and Easy by Gavin Atlas
Gay Book Reviews/BDSM, Gay Book Reviews/Erotica
TITLE: Simple and Easy AUTHOR: Gavin Atlas
PUBLISHER: Forbidden Publications

BOOK BLURB:Derek, a young New Yorker, is tired of being treated like a piece of meat by his boyfriend. He moves to Richmond, a smaller city in the South, hoping to find love. However, he's not prepared for the overwhelming response to his arrival. Sure, he was considered cute in New York, but handsome guys there are a dime a dozen. In Richmond, he's the hottest bottom around. Derek isn't the sharpest tool in the shed, and quickly earns a reputation of being “simple and easy.” He tries to behave, but before long, the city's tops are tricking him into giving up his rump all the time. Derek discovers that he loves every minute of it. Will he decide he still wants romance or that he wants to be the official town sex toy?

BOOK REVIEW: At times, I wanted to slap Derek silly for falling for the tricks the tops pulled on him, but I chuckled to myself because I realized that he had become a real person instead of just a character in a gay porn novella. If you like your erotica grittier than most anthologies, you'll love this one-handed reading by Gavin Atlas. He's developed Derek into a real person that you want to root for, be in his place with his boots in the air, and sometimes, want to be the naughty top, taking advantage of his sweet ass.

The only thing that didn't ring true for me was that he came from New York. In my mind, he'd be more street smart than he is if that were the case. This little detail didn't hold me back from stroking myself while reading about his sexual adventures in his new town.

If you like gay porn, give this one a read. It'll have your cock standing at attention in no time. I recommend it.

Review by Fred Towers

Reprinted from Rainbow Reviews

Book Review: Unmasked: Erotic Tales of Gay Superheroes

Unmasked by Eric Summers
Gay Book Reviews/Fantasy, Gay Book Reviews/Anthology, Gay Book Reviews/Erotica
TITLE: Unmasked: Erotic Tales of Gay Superheroes AUTHOR: Eric Summers
ISBN: 1-934187-20-8 PUBLISHER: Starbooks Press

BOOK BLURB: Next time you are rescued from a burning building by a tall, hung, muscle-bound man in tights, will you offer your services in appreciation? Why not? Superheroes have needs just like everyone else. All you have to do is promise to protect his secret identity and try not to damage the spandex! Some things just won't wash out. With any luck, you might become a sidekick. Every superhero has a super ability, and this latest Eric Summers collection of erotic short stories highlights those incredible talents that seem to come out when the sun goes down and the bedroom door closes. But, every superhero also has a weakness. Be careful because one such superhero in Unmasked: Erotic Tales of Gay Superheroes loses his powers if he has an orgasm. What is a boy to do?

"Unmasked: Erotic Tales of Gay Superheroes" tells the stories of those hot men who are powerful in a dangerous situation and equally powerful under the covers. Try not to fall in love because the life of a superhero can be a lonely one, and the life of a heart-sick admirer can be even lonelier. Just lie back and enjoy the moment as a man with a cape and a mask takes you to new levels of ecstasy.

BOOK REVIEW: This is a hot collection of erotica, and for the superhero freaks like me, it's an amazing collection. The stories are great superhero fiction as well as hot erotica. I didn't want to like this collection, since my story was accepted at first, but was cut at the last minute. But this collection is too great to pass up.

The reader will enjoy the superheroes and the super villains in this anthology. The short stories have fully developed characters and plots, which go beyond the erotic elements. The erotica is a bonus for battling the bad guys.

I recognized some of the authors, such as Jay Starre and my friend, Stephen Osborne. You can't read an erotica anthology without coming across one of these guys. There are probably more authors that others would recognize. Whether they are known or not, all of these stories are topnotch.

I highly recommend this to superhero freaks and readers of smut. Don't miss this one!

Review by Fred Towers

Reprinted from Rainbow Reviews

Book Review: First Person Plural

First Person Plural by Andrew W.M. Beierle
Gay Book Reviews/Fiction, Gay Book Reviews/Romance
TITLE: First Person Plural AUTHOR: Andrew W.M. Beierle
ISBN: 978-0-7582-1970-1 PUBLISHER: Kensington Books

Owen and Porter Jamison are conjoined twins inhabiting one body with two heads, one torso, and two very different hearts. As children, they're seen as a single entity ~ Owenandporter, or more often, Porterandowen. As they grow to adulthood, their differences become more pronounced: Porter is outgoing and charismatic while Owen is cerebral and artistic. When Porter becomes a high school jock hero, complete with cheerleader girlfriend, a greater distinction emerges, as Owen gradually comes to realize that he's gay.

I was enthralled with this book after I read the back of the book. The whole idea of conjoined twins with two different sexual orientations was very intriguing, and this book delivered everything I expected and much more. I half-expected and feared this novel would be a comedy like the movie, Stuck on You, but the book treated the subject matter with compassion and honesty that transcended that movie. This novel is a literary masterpiece.

Even though Porter's teenage years are the American dream with him being the school jock dating a cheerleader, Owen's narration describes it in a way that the reader realizes this is not your typical story. Their music career is also a little far-fetched, but the narration keeps it from becoming cliche. Even though it's written from Owen's viewpoint, all the characters are three-dimensional and realistic, breathing individuals, including the minor characters. His narration is always honest.

At times, I forgot that Owen and Porter were conjoined twins because they are painted as two different individuals, but then, the plot reminded me that they were indeed conjoined, and that fact added tension to normal everyday things that I would take for granted. Beierle takes all the characters beyond the stereotypes. For example, Faith is much more than the Southern Baptist wife of Porter. Her emotional struggles with pregnancy, marriage, and Owen's sexuality are realistic and never stereotypical. It would have been easy for Beierle to go with the stereotypes, but he broke away from them until all his characters could walk and talk to the reader like a friend.

This novel is a literary coming-of-age, romance novel, which doesn't fit most labels associated with books. I struggled with putting this book under gay fiction because I didn't want to limit its readership. It's a book we should all read and digest. It has something that all readers could learn and grow from. The novel includes a reading group guide with questions for discussion. I HIGHLY recommend this book for ALL readers.

Review by Fred Towers

Reprinted from Rainbow Reviews

Book Review: Through Neon Eyes: Zoner

Through Neon Eyes: Zoner by Michael Barnette
Gay Book Reviews/Science Fiction, Gay Book Reviews/Erotica
TITLE: Through Neon Eyes: Zoner AUTHOR: Michael Barnette
PUBLISHER: Mojocastle Press

David Jessman has it all. A great job, a wonderful home and wealth. What he doesn't have is a lover, but that's about to change ...

The setting of this futuristic BDSM yaoi story is established by the author early. He describes how the main character, Mr. Jessman was kidnapped by NeuroTech from Megalli-Loran Corporation. He wonders why MLC hasn't tried to get him back, while he waits for someone he's hired to entertain him for the evening. He soon discovers the truth about MLC's desire for him, when Bells arrives.

I believe I felt distanced from both characters because the narrator never allows the reader to get too close to them. The fact that both characters are always referred to by what I believe is their last name is part of that distance. I don't know if the author wanted it that way because of the BDSM theme with one character being a sadistic top, while the other one discovers his desire for the bottom role. I wanted to be able to get inside the characters more and learn more about them. I wonder if the author wanted to stretch the character development throughout the series of stories. I wanted more depth, but they may come in future installments in this series. Based on the cover art, I thought Bells was female, but that wasn't the case. An effeminate male is typical in the yaoi genre. I did enjoy the sex scene, which extended throughout the majority of this installment of the Through Neon Eyes series. I recommend this for yaoi fans and scifi erotica fans, who are willing to take a chance on a series of short, futuristic novellas. This was a fun, entertaining read.

Review by Fred Towers

Reprinted from Rainbow Reviews

Book Review: When You Don't See Me

When You Don’t See Me by Timothy James Beck
Gay Book Reviews/Fiction
TITLE: When You Don't See Me AUTHOR: Timothy James Beck
ISBN: 978-0-7582-1686-1 PUBLISHER: Kensington Books

For nineteen years, he's been "the one who disappears" to his disapproving, Midwestern family. And now in New York City, a metropolis of anonymity built on not making eye contact, he feels right at home. Walking the streets of the Village, sneaking into dive bars, cleaning apartments, and trying to co-exist in a cramped apartment with his three roommates, Nick's trying to find his way without doing anything to put his wounded heart at risk, all the while wondering, "Does anything last?"

In this novel, New York City is as much a character as Nick Dunhill. At times, Nick is very mature, but then, he shows how young and immature he is. I wanted to slap him, when he did something stupid, but then, I realized that I had been sucked into Beck's world and that the characters were so well-developed they felt like real people ~ friends. Even the minor characters become real and feel like they can walk off the page.

Since the novel is written in first person from Nick's point of view, it took me a few chapters to realize that not everything with his family and friends was what they appeared. I really enjoyed the insight into how the family and friends felt and thought about Nick in the letters from them to him slipped in between the chapters. Without these letters, the reader wouldn't get these glimpses into the other character's heads and hearts about him.

This novel follows Nick through several ups and downs, such as dealing with losing someone on September 11th, losing his job, dropping out of school, moving into his own apartment, finding out his roommate works in a fetish shop, and so much more. I laughed out loud, cried, and wanted to strangle Kendra, Nick, Fred, and several of the other characters. I wanted to hug them to me, during a bad time, or shake my head at a stupid decision they made. They were so real that I didn't want the book to end.

I loved to watch Nick grow and mature with each event in his life. This author has gained a fan, and I look forward to the next novel. I highly recommend this book and this author to everyone.

Review by Fred Towers

Reprinted from Rainbow Reviews

Book Review: A Scarecrow's Bible

A Scarecrow’s Bible by Martin Hyatt
Gay Book Reviews/Fiction
TITLE: A Scarecrow's Bible AUTHOR: Martin Hyatt
ISBN: 978-0-9763411-4-7 PUBLISHER: Suspect Thoughts Press

In a house trailer in rural Mississippi, Gary, a married Vietnam veteran, addicted to drugs, haunted by memories of the past, is on the brink of collapse. Just when he thinks the dream of another life is over, the unspeakable happens. He falls in love with a frail, ghostly younger man who reminds him of youth, beauty, and the possibility of a life beyond the prison he has created for himself.

Hyatt has created a wonderful group of dysfunctional characters, who live and breath in every small town. He shows the working class life and struggles with compassion and grace. At first, the second person viewpoint takes a couple of paragraphs to get used to, but once, the reader accepts the role of Gary, the story takes over. My partner struggled with the second person narrative and couldn't read the book, but I loved it. After he meets Zachary, there are a few passages in italics, which are in third person, to allow the reader to understand his perspective on life. This is a gay love story not like any I have read before. In fact, it is so much more. This is a literary masterpiece from a debut author. He handles the characters, their struggles, and triumphs with a skill of a seasoned author. I couldn't believe this was his first novel. An example of his mastery of the character and language is "As you go down the steps you realize that it's not looking so rainy anymore. The light is a little stunning to you, causing you to almost drop the dresser. Once you dropped a dead man, and you never went back to pick him up. Then you began to drop them all of the time because that's what you did when people became heavy. And now Gina has done it to you." This passage shows how Hyatt interweaves various times of the character's life into a single moment of moving a dresser. Amazing skill. I highly recommend this book.

Review by Fred Towers

Reprinted from Rainbow Reviews

Book Review: Through Neon Eyes: Control

Through Neon Eyes: Control by Michael Barnette
Gay Book Reviews/Science Fiction, Gay Book Reviews/Erotica
TITLE: Through Neon Eyes: Control AUTHOR: Michael Barnette
PUBLISHER: Mojocastle Press

David Jessman has found his lover, what he's lacking is control of himself, the situation he's in and the blond gunwhore known to him only as Bells. Bad as that is for a man used to being in charge, he's finding that losing control may not be that terrible after all.

This is the second installment in the Through Neon Eyes series, and it's a much hotter, erotic story than the first. The first installment was bogged down with telling the reader the background material of the story. TNE:Control is about the developing affection between these two men, the obstacles they face to be together, and the steamy BDSM sex between them.

In this installment, I felt like the writer developed the characters more because I learned about their internal lives. Bells is still mysterious, but the reader gets a better sense of his motives and struggles. There are still some people mentioned, but never seen. Instead of being distracting, it entices the reader to continue reading to find out who they are.

I could finally sympathize with these characters, which wasn't true in the first installment, Through Neon Eyes: Zoner. I highly recommend this installment of the series. Hopefully, the next segment will be just as HOT.

Review by Fred Towers

Reprinted from Rainbow Reviews

Book Review: The Positions of Love: Book 1

The Positions of Love: Book 1 by J.M. Snyder
Gay Book Reviews/Fantasy, Gay Book Reviews/Romance,
Gay Book Reviews/Erotica
TITLE: Positions of Love: Book 1 AUTHOR: J.M. Snyder
ISBN: 978-1-60272-173-9 PUBLISHER: Amber Quill Press

When Matt diLorenzo gives his lover, Vic Braunson, a copy of the Kama Sutra for Gay Men as a Christmas gift, they find it doubles as a handy reference guide to Vic's super powers. All they have to do is test out the positions to see which one gives him what ability ...

Matt and Vic have been living together almost a year now, and this is their first Christmas. Not a big fan of the holiday, Vic is unsure what to buy his lover. Matt gives him two guidelines to go by ~ the gift must be under $50, and must be something sexual, because Vic has some time off during the holidays and Matt plans to spend that time together.

I may be a little biased because I'm a superhero freak, and I crave more gay superhero fiction. There just isn't enough. This installment of Matt and Vic is more erotic than superhero. At this point, they are exploring what lovemaking positions gives him what powers, instead of how his powers can help other people. I can't wait for future installments to see how that side of the story develops.

I did get Matt and Vic confused at times, but the writing was so crisp I didn't worry about it. I just continued reading, figuring that it'd work itself out. The characters are distinctly different in the descriptions, so I don't know why I'd get bumped in who was who. Despite this minor confusion, I fell in love with the characters.

The author does seem to love the word "bulbous" when describing the cock's head. It was used at least twice to describe it in two different sex scenes. Since I wasn't sure what the word meant, it jumped out at me.

One phrase that I fell in love with was "A cutting wind pulled at his robe like a hungry lover." The language in this story is smooth and captivating.

I highly recommend this book to all erotica lovers, romance lovers, and superhero freaks. I can't wait to see how his superpowers manifest themselves in future installments, such as what happens when the top and bottom flip in bed.

Review by Fred Towers

Reprinted from Rainbow Reviews

Book Review: Tears of Gold

Tears of Gold by Dana Erikson
Gay Book Reviews/Fantasy, Gay Book Reviews/Romance
TITLE: Tears of Gold AUTHOR: Dana Erikson
ISBN: 1-60180-021-5 PUBLISHER: Mojocastle Press

Merrick chose to become a soldier to protect his friend, a young man named Ambrose. He returns to his home, only to find Ambrose is missing. His rescue mission lands him back in the arms of a man from his past.

Is love really lost forever? Or can time and maturity change everything? Merrick Underson has the chance to tempt fate once again. But will he make the right choice this time?

The book opens with an erotic scene between Lord Andrus and his slave, Ambrose. Soon, the reader realizes that Ambrose was Merrick's lover, and he escaped from their village after being attacked. Merrick goes on a quest to find him. As Merrick travels, he discovers that the place where he grew up isn't the same. It has become a dark place where friends have been raped, tortured, killed, or are slaves.

The reader may think this is a historical romance, but will find that it's a dark and dangerous quest where love may not survive. This story is well written, fast paced, and intriguing. Merrick has to fight demons within him and throughout his journey.

There are times when modern language doesn't seem appropriate in the historical time period of the story, but the reader will enjoy the story if they can overlook these terms. For example, " the first chapter says, "the king had outlawed same-sex relationships." That phrase threw me at first.

I highly recommend this story. Don't expect a happy ending, but be surprised if it happens. This story is more about the journey, than about living happily ever after. You'll be surprised by the twists and turns of this fascinating story.

Review by Fred Towers

Reprinted from Rainbow Reviews

Book Review: The Bonds of Love

The Bonds of Love by J.M. Snyder
Gay Book Reviews/BDSM, Gay Book Reviews/Fantasy,
Gay Book Reviews/Erotica
TITLE: The Bonds of Love AUTHOR: J.M. Snyder
ISBN: 978-1-60272-202-6 PUBLISHER: Amber Quill Press

Vic Braunson has a special kind of problem ~ his lover, Matt DiLorenzo, somehow imbues him with enhanced superpowers every time they have sex. It’s something Vic has learned to live with in the years they’ve been together, and something he won’t let stand in the way of their relationship. Matt hates the powers, however, particularly when they put Vic in danger, but what can they do?

When Vic stops an armed robbery at a local convenience store, his picture appears in the morning paper. Later that day, Matt receives a phone call at work from Jordan Dubrowski, a guy he knew in high school. Jordan was his first, in every way ~ it was through him that Matt discovered his ability to transfer superpowers to his lovers. Jordan had a taste of those powers, and after reading about Vic’s role in the hold up, he’s decided he wants those powers back.
But Matt is in love ... and Vic won’t let him go without a fight. Still, Jordan will stop at nothing to get what he thinks rightly belongs to him...

This novel is a gay erotica superhero story with plenty of action in the bedroom as well as in the streets. Vic saves the day, but when his picture ends up in the paper, the real intrigue begins. He has to save his relationship from being torn apart by Matt's ex-lover.

For action adventure readers, there is plenty of intrigue and action to get their hearts pumping. They can live vicariously through the superhero adventure. This action adventure superhero novel takes the superhero novel to the next level. It doesn't close the door on the relationship behind the hero.

The erotica reader will enjoy the sex scenes between Matt and Vic, but they will get more than their crotch throbbing. They'll be on the edge of their seats wanting more.
Snyder writes strong characters, plots and moves from the bedroom to the streets with ease. I believe all readers who enjoy erotica, action, and more will enjoy this gay novel. I highly recommend it, especially to the gay superhero geeks like me.

Review by Fred Towers

Reprinted from Rainbow Reviews