Book Review: Bingo Barge Murder

Title: Bingo Barge Murder

Author: Jessie Chandler

Series: Shay O’Hanlon Caper Series

Genre: Mystery (LGBT)

Heat level: Sweet (just a kiss)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

barge

I really debated giving this 4.5 or even 5 stars. This was a funny, intelligent mystery from a lesbian detective in the spirit of the Stephanie Plum series, only set in Minnesota instead. Great cast of characters from the not-quite-together Shay O’Hanlon to her sexy love interest, Detective Bordeux. I think the junkyard dog was one of the best characters, especially when paired up with feisty Ms. Eddy.

This was a bit more of a madcap adventure than a true mystery, but there was the question of why the murder took place. The misadventures certainly kept the pace of the book up, and I found the whole thing quite funny. I’ll be grabbing Ms. Chandler’s next book in the series for sure.

I think my one tiny criticism wasn’t with the book itself but with the eBook formatting. It looks like the book was scanned and there were a few formatting issues. This wasn’t enough to detract from the story, however.

A great debut novel!

Book Review: Dirty Kiss

kiss

Book: Dirty Kiss

Author; Rhys Ford

Publisher:

Genre:  M/M Mystery

Rating: ***** (5 stars!)

I’m pretty stingy with stars. It takes a really good book to pull that rating from me–the book has to be well-edited, good characters, good plot, and a little something extra.

This book has it all.

The mystery plot was good, hinting me towards the perpetrator while keeping the danger and suspense high. I really liked the Korean flavor which filtered through everything. (Small surprise there, as I’m white and my partner is Japanese, so I know all about the whole cultural difference thing.)

And the sex? HOT.

I really liked the sexual tension between Jae and McGinnis, and how things came together for them. There were some achingly sweet scenes together with spitfire and tension.  I also liked how McGinnis struggled with his past.

Oh, and the opening scene of the book is a hoot. Pulled me right in.

So yes, lots of good things to say about this book. I’ll definitely be looking at more of what Rhys Ford has to offer.

Got Tagged!

I was tagged by Velvetpanic in this post:  http://velvetpanic2.wordpress.com/2013/10/18/ardent-fire/ to answer a few questions about my most recent project. So here goes!

1. What are you working on?

As my followers may know, I’ve been working on my first original m/m novel, a paranormal mystery/suspense. I actually just changed the title last week, so it’s now called Murder One, book 1 of the Oddities Series. In the book we meet Derwin Bryant, a bounty hunter with the gift to be able to feed on pain to increase his speed, strength, and agility. He’s trying to find a killer when he runs across Elliot Leed, a rent boy forced to hide his own gift of object reading in a society that hates and abuses those like him with Oddities. The world they live in is fraught with peril, inhabited by demons and monsters where cities must wall themselves off from the wilderness. In solving a murder, they may find they have only scratched the surface of a deeper mystery.

2. How does Murder One differ from other works in the genre?

I haven’t really seen much crossover between mystery and urban fantasy/paranormal in the m/m romance genre. There are a few bright shining series like Psycop, but there’s so much room for more! I’m really excited about this project, more excited than I’ve been in a long time. Another difference is Derwin’s gift. He’s a Sadist, so yes, the book will feature BDSM elements.  I’ve also been having fun writing the encounters with demons–the world has strong Asian influences. All the demons come from Japanese mythology.

3. Why do you write what you do?

For years I separated myself between my “serious” writing which was fantasy and science fiction (published under another name) for the average straight, vanilla folk, and my “fun” writing in fanfiction for the LGBT and BDSM crowd. With the new publishing scene, I finally decided it was time to dive in and write fun seriously!

4. How does your writing process work?

Because I write mostly in alternate worlds, world building is one of the first things that I explore when creating a new book. I have a notebook for each book that I write, where I keep notes on the world names, history, politics, mythology, magic, etc. Once the world has been fleshed out a little, I move next to developing the characters. They too get detailed notes and history. Last I create a basic outline of the plot. I usually plot out the first ten or so chapters, and from there I make it pretty vague, just jotting down different “steps” that need to happen before the climax. I also try to figure out the ending. The rest of it, the journey, I make up as I write. I write in order, just as my characters are experiencing things. As my characters come to life, they often take over from there, and I just have to follow along and see what they do next.

Hmm, and I don’t know enough people yet to tag!  I’ll tag Kaje, Nathan, and Jordan L. Hawke over at Goodreads.

Book Review: Among the Living (PsyCop #1)

psycop

Book:  Among the Living

Series: Psycop

Author: Jordan Castillo Price

Publisher: JCP Books

Genre: Paranormal Gay Mystery (with some romance)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

It’s kind of a no-brainer why I chose to read this book. I’m writing a Gay Romance/Mystery/Suspense novel with paranormal elements and ta da! That’s what this series is as well. So I wanted to see what was out there. This book came highly recommended, and I can see why. Jordan does a great job with the suspense and mystery aspects of the book, keeping things constantly moving along. It was downright creepy at the end, and I liked that. I also like how she weaves in the paranormal elements, with cops having psychic abilities including talking to spirits, truth-telling, and a cosmic Magic 8 ball ability.

I think the only thing that kept me from giving this five stars is that I didn’t really connect with any of the characters. While I liked the tone of the narrator’s voice, he keeps himself distant from everyone, and I think that kept me the reader a bit distant as well. There was sexual attraction between Vic and Marks (along with sex), but I didn’t really feel any kind of emotional connection between them. It left me wondering if Vic would be like a Sam Spade in the next book and find someone else. It wouldn’t surprise me if he did. (Yes, it felt that casual, and not romantic).

But other than that, I enjoyed it. I particularly liked the character of Lisa Gutierrez. The reader only gets occasional snapshots of her emotions, but it’s enough to paint a vivid picture of her. You can tell this woman has fought hard against the system, against sexism and racism and her background to get where she’s gotten. I hope to see more of her.

While I’ve been sampling different authors in the m/m genre, particularly dealing with mysteries or paranormal, most of the series I probably won’t go on to read more than one book. I think however that this one intrigued me enough to try Book 2.

That’s why it get 4 stars.

Titles are Such Trouble

So the writing is going well, overall. I’ve written about 17,500 words so far in the m/m novel, and about 1100 in a short gay erotic piece as well. I have ideas on the burner for my next Het Tale erotic short story, a lesbian story out making the rounds, and another plot bunny for a lesbian mystery novel.

I’m also trying to read a lot more, particularly in the m/m romance genre since I’ll be playing a lot in that field. I was dismayed to find that a friend of mine who also writes in this genre stole the title I’d come up with–well very nearly, anyway. I was going to have my first book called “Breaking and Entering” because it all starts with just that, as well as a murder. But I really like her book “Break and Enter.”

So what’s a writer to do?

I’m also having issues with the series name. One of my main characters is a bounty hunter, so currently I’m calling this “The Bounty Hunter Series.” But that’s not really what it’s about. They’ll be solving murders, my sadistic bounty hunter and an object reading psychic. Their powers label them as Oddities in this world.

So what should I call it?

The Oddities Series? An Odd Mystery? (hmm, I kinda like that one, actually.)  Or I could go to the old standby in mysteries of naming it for the characters. Derwin and Elliot. Or last name–Bryant and Leed.

I’m going to be asking for feedback from my crit group. Meanwhile, I think I’ll change the name of the first book to “Murder One.” Yes, it gives a little hint about the murder (that it’s premeditated) but I don’t keep that a secret for long, so I think I’m okay with it.

Anyone else have this trouble?

Book Review: Cut and Run by Madeleine Urban and Abigail Roux

CutandRun

Title: Cut and Run

Authors: Madeleine Urban and Abigail Roux

Genre: Gay Romance, Suspense

Publisher: Dreamspinner

Year: 2008

When I got the idea to write my first gay romance, immediately the idea came to me to write a mystery series, so I started searching for what’s already out there for gay romance/mystery and gay romantic suspense. This book is the first of a series that is highly successful and popular. In reading it, I soon learned why.

It’s all about the characters.

Ms. Urban and Ms. Roux created the classic “Odd Couple” types–at least that’s what it looks like in the beginning. Ty is sloppy and foul-mouthed, while Zane dresses neatly and acts with professionalism. But as they start to work together to solve a series of grisly murders, the reader learns that surface appearances don’t reflect what’s really there. By the end of the book they have switched manners and appearances and have stripped each other down (literally and figuratively) to the real people hiding underneath.

The murder mystery was pretty standard–I figured out the culprit early on, and was annoyed that they never even suspected the person. The sex was decent (I have high standards on this area in particular) with plenty of teasing and sexual tension. The suspense/thriller aspect was very well done, and is probably one of the things that would draw me into reading the second book. I also liked that characters actually got HURT and had to spend time in hospitals recuperating. You don’t see a lot of that these days, at least in the books I’ve read.

I’m curious to learn more about the character Zane Garrett in particular. This is a fellow dealing with a lot of personal demons (one of my favorite themes) and he has a temper as well as a tendency to addiction. I’d like to see how he develops over time. I didn’t feel the writers explored Ty’s character as deeply, but there’s plenty of potential there as well.

The ending is pretty predictable and sets up the series. Overall the writing is a decent quality, and I enjoyed the twists and turns, particularly that the writers didn’t make things easy on their characters. Last, these men are not girly or overdressed women in men’s bodies. They act like guys, which I appreciate.

I’d recommend this for m/m and gay romance fans.