Gerry B's Book Reviews

The Nothingness of Ben, by Brad Boney

nob - happy new year

A worthy debut novel

bee3

bee-half

NoB - coverStory blurb: Ben Walsh is well on his way to becoming one of Manhattan’s top litigators, with a gorgeous boyfriend and friends on the A-list. His life is perfect until he gets a phone call that brings it all crashing down: a car accident takes his parents, and now he must return to Austin to raise three teenage brothers he barely knows.

During the funeral, Ben meets Travis Atwood, the redneck neighbor with a huge heart. Their relationship initially runs hot and cold, from contentious to flirtatious, but when the weight of responsibility starts wearing on Ben, he turns to Travis, and the pressure shapes their friendship into something that feels a lot like love. Ben thinks he’s found a way to have his old life, his new life, and Travis too, but love isn’t always easy. Will he learn to recognize that sometimes the worst thing imaginable can lead him to the place he was meant to be?

About the author: Brad Boney lives in Austin, Texas, the 7th gayest city in America. He likes to tell stories about the hot boys in his neighborhood near the University of Texas. Brand new to M/M fiction, he plans to set all of his books in Austin and hopes to become an ambassador for his city. He grew up in the Midwest and went to school at NYU. He lived in Washington, DC and Houston before settling in Austin. He blames his background in the theater for his writing of all time is 50 First Dates. His favorite gay film of the last ten years is Strapped. He has never met a boy band he didn’t like. The books he’s rated say a lot about him.

♥♥♥

Review by Gerry Burnie

Ordinarily I don’t read contemporary western novels. They tend to be little more than gratuitous romps in the sack, barn, hayloft, bunkhouse, or any other place where they can get horizontal, with a bit of narrative thrown in as a makeshift plot. Happily, The Nothingness of Ben, by Brad Boney [Dreamspinner Press, 2012] is an exception. Oh, it is sexy enough, but it also has a plot and some decent writing going for it.

Gay Lawyer, Ben Walsh, is a young, upwardly mobile person; typically ambitious and self-centred, and in accordance with Maslow’s Theory of Hierarchy, he is far removed from his modest Texas beginnings. That is, until tragedy calls him back as guardian of his three younger brothers—the youngest being in the midst of his difficult, teenage years.

Decently (I think) he responds to the challenge, and that is when he meets Travis Atwood, a self-taught tradesman and Ben’s social opposite. Travis is also ‘straight’ (meaning he’s had no previous homosexual experience), but inevitably he and Ben hit it off sexually as well as otherwise.

The plot then winds its way through some minor challenges until is arrives at a happy resolution.

To that extent it is a nice story, and as a debut novel it is better than many: The writing is solid; the characters are interesting and well defined; and the plot and pace are both progressive. In other words, it can take its place on bookshelves or in ebook libraries quite unashamedly.

Nevertheless, I have some quibbles. For one thing the plot is far from unique. City boy (or ‘city-oriented boy’) ends up in a rural setting where he meets a handsome local and falls in love. Off hand, I can think of half-a-dozen novels with approximately the same theme, so it is becoming just a bit trite. I also agree with some other reviewers who found it a little Utopian and short on angst (contrast). On this point, however, I must admit that I hate to knock my characters around as well, but even taffy requires salt.

Nonetheless, I will say categorically that the strengths of Boney’s writing outweigh the shortcomings. Besides, as I always say, your tastes may be different from mine. Three and one-half bees.

♥♥♥

Visitors count to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 41,527

Visitors count for 2012 – 23,200

♥♥♥

Notice to all those who have requested a book review

Thank you for your interest, and my apologies for not responding to your request individually. I’m getting there, but the numbers have been overwhelming. Please extend your patience just a bit longer.

Thanks again!

♥♥♥

MicrocrapAs a writer I spend at least eight hours per day on the computer, and a good portion of that is wasted on wrestling with MS Word. Annoyances like:

chasing the pointer as it jumps around the page;

  • deleting and retyping the misplaced copy that results;

  • undoing the blocking of copy that mysteriously appears on its own, and is then deleted with my next key stroke;

  • struggling to undo the alternate characters (the blue ones on the keypad) that arbitrarily appear.

See my full comments at my blog: Stop the Bull

♥♥♥

If you would like to learn more about any of my books, or to order copies, click on the specific cover below. Two Irish Lads and Nor All Thy Tears are available in both Kindle and Nook formats. Publisher’s price, $4.95.

      

Thanks for dropping by. We`ve had our best year ever and the numbers are increasing every day. Congratulations. On behalf of the authors represented on these pages, I wish you a happy and prosperous new year!

December 31, 2012 Posted by | Coming out, Contemporary western, Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay romance | Leave a comment

Gerry B’s Book Reviews in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 23,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 5 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

December 30, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Out of the Blue: Confessions of an Unlikely Porn Star, by Blue Blake

Bookshelf copy

A witty and humorous romp through the gay porn industry –

bee5

out of the blue confessions - coverStory blurb: Out of the Blue is a hilarious autobiographical romp that details the life of porn star turned director/producer Blue Blake and his adventures in the skin trade. Blue has worked with every major star in the industry and won many major awards and honors, including induction into the Gay Porn Legend Hall of Fame.

Available in ebook format – 410 KB (so you can still download it in time for Christmas)

♣♣♣

Review by Gerry Burnie

I was looking around for something light and also inspirational to fit the season, and Out of the Blue: Confessions of an Unlikely Porn Star, the autobiography of Blue Blake [Running Press, 2009] was the surprising answer. I say “surprising” because one would hardly expect the adventures of a porn star to be either light or inspirational, but Blue Bake pulls it off with remarkable wit and humour.

Although he had a fairly rough childhood in Nottingham, England, an abusive father as well, he doesn’t dwell on it. Neither does he dwell on the usual coming to grips with his sexuality or coping with homophobia. Rather, he takes us on an erogenous romp through the commercial porn business, letting us in on the behind-the-scenes goings-on; including seducing self-identifying heterosexual hunks, and the love interests that develop between porn stars.

Blue Blake isn’t just a pretty face and tantalizing body, he is writer of considerable talent and charm. Five bees.

♣♣♣

Visitors count for Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 40,907

♣♣♣

Notice to all those who have requested a book review

Thank you for your interest, and my apologies for not responding to your request individually. I’m getting there, but the numbers have been overwhelming. Please extend your patience just a bit longer.

Thanks again!

♣♣♣

Notice: Due to Amazon’s recent decision to  purge reviews it deems “questionable” from  its pages (without notice), I will no longer be posting  on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca. Instead, I will post on Goodreads and Barnes and Noble. I ask you to patronize these sites as well.

♣♣♣

If you would like to learn more about any of my books, or to order copies, click on the specific cover below. Two Irish Lads and Nor All Thy Tears are available in both Kindle and Nook formats. Publisher’s price, $4.95.

      

Merry Christmas to all! May you share it with family and friends, and in good health.

 

December 24, 2012 Posted by | Autobiography, Contemporary biography, Gay documentary, Gay non-fiction, Hollywood, Homoerotic, M/M love and adventure, Male bisexual, Non-fiction | Leave a comment

To Every Thing There Is a Season: A Cape Breton Christmas Story, by Alistair MacLeod

Bookshelf copy

A short story you’ll want to make part of your Christmas – 

bee5

to every thing - coverStory blurb: The story is simple, seen through the eyes of an 11-year-old boy. As an adult he remembers the way things were back home on the farm on the west coast of Cape Breton. The time was the 1940s, but the hens and the cows and the pigs and the sheep and the horse made it seem ancient. The family of six children excitedly waits for Christmas and two-year-old Kenneth, who liked Halloween a lot, asks, “Who are you going to dress up as at Christmas? I think I’ll be a snowman.” They wait especially for their oldest brother, Neil, working on “the Lake boats” in Ontario, who sends intriguing packages of “clothes” back for Christmas. On Christmas Eve he arrives, to the delight of his young siblings, and shoes the horse before taking them by sleigh through the woods to the nearby church. The adults, including the narrator for the first time, sit up late to play the gift-wrapping role of Santa Claus.

The story is simple, short and sweet, but with a foretaste of sorrow. Not a word is out of place. Matching and enhancing the text are black and white illustrations by Peter Rankin, making this book a perfect little gift.

Available in e-book – 287 KB, 48 pages.

to every thing - macleodAlistair MacLeod was born in North Battleford, Saskatchewan, and raised among an extended family in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. He has published two internationally acclaimed collections of short stories: The Lost Salt Gift of Blood (1976) and As Birds Bring Forth the Sun (1986). In 2000, these two books, accompanied by two new stories, were published in a single-volume edition entitled Island: The Collected Stories of Alistair MacLeod. In 1999, MacLeod’s first novel, No Great Mischief, was published to great critical acclaim, and was on national bestseller lists for more than a year. The novel won many awards, including the prestigious International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Alistair MacLeod and his wife, Anita, have six children. They live in Windsor, Ontario.

Peter Rankin was born in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. He specializes in illustrating the traditional way of life there. A fisherman as well as an artist, in 2004 he illustrated Making Room, a children’s book by Joanne Taylor that was published by Tundra Books, for which he won the 2004 Lillian Shepherd Memorial Award for Excellence in Illustration. He lives in Mabou Coal Mines with his wife and their five children.

♥♥♥

Review by Gerry Burnie

To those who might not be familiar with Cape Breton Island, here is a brief orientation via Wikipedia:

cCape Breton Island is part of the province of Nova Scotia, Canada. The 10,311 km2 (3,981 sq mi) island accounts for 18.7% of the total area of Nova Scotia. Although physically separated from the Nova Scotia peninsula by the Strait of Canso, it is artificially connected to mainland Nova Scotia by the 1,385 m (4,544 ft) long rock-fill Canso Causeway. The island is located east-northeast of the mainland with its northern and western coasts fronting on the Gulf of Saint Lawrence; its western coast also forming the eastern limits of the Northumberland Strait. The eastern and southern coasts front the Atlantic Ocean; its eastern coast also forming the western limits of the Cabot Strait.[1] Its landmass slopes upward from south to north, culminating in the highlands of its northern cape. One of the world’s larger salt water lakes, Bras d’Or (“Arm of Gold” in French), dominates the centre of the island.[2]

to every thing - landscapeTo Everything Thing There Is a Season: A Cape Breton Christmas Story, by Alistair MacLeod [McClelland & Stewart, 2012] harkens back to the 1940s, but like most rural communities, including the Ontario one in which I grew up, its roots go back to a much earlier time. Indeed, in Cape Breton, its roots go back to a time when:

“…the English set out to destroy the clans of Scotland, [and] the most independent of the Highlanders left their homes with the pipes playing laments on the decks of their ships. They crossed the ocean and the pipes played again when they waded ashore on the rocky coast of Cape Breton Island.”– Hugh Mclennan

In the 1940s, rural communities were predominantly ‘closed’ communities with a proud, self-sufficient way of life, i.e.

“Most of the families, if they did not live in the town or work in the mines, would have a small farm where cows and sheep and pigs and hens and a small garden provided a living. Things would be easier with the help of the wages of a husband or son who worked on the fishing boats or in the woods or, like young Neil in the story, on “the lake boats” in Ontario.”

to every thing there is a season - lobster treeThere were few indulgences, therefore, except for Hallowe’en and Christmas, and MacLeod—in his flawless and evocative style—has captured this anticipation in the voice of an eleven-year-old boy.

“We have been waiting now, it seems, forever. Actually, it has been most intense since Hallowe’en when the first snow fell upon us as we moved like muffled mummers upon darkened country roads.”

Indeed, this entire story is a collection of evocative memories, seemingly random at times, but always moving the story forward at the same time.

“The ocean is flat and calm and along the coast, in the scooped-out coves, has turned to an icy slush. The brook that flows past our house is almost totally frozen and there is only a small channel of rushing water that flows openly at its very centre. When we let the cattle out to drink, we chop holes with the axe at the brook’s edge so that they can drink without venturing onto the ice.

“The sheep move in and out of their lean-to shelter, restlessly stamping their feet or huddling together in tightly packed groups. A conspiracy of wool against the cold. The hens perch high on their roosts with their feathers fluffed out about them, hardly feeling it worthwhile to descend to the floor for their few scant kernels of grain. The pig, who has little time before his butchering,  squeals his displeasure to the cold and with his snout tosses his wooden trough high in the icy air. The splendid young horse paws the planking of his stall and gnaws the wooden cribwork of his manger.”

For those of us who grew up on a family farm, one can almost hear, feel and smell these scenes, and for those who didn’t it is a wonderful glimpse of a simpler way of life when people had time to notice such things.

And to put the topping on it, it is  illustrated throughout with the marvellous sketches of Peter Rankin—of the same Rankin clan as the world-renowned “Rankin Family” musicians.

This is a short story (only 47 pages long) that you will want to make part of your Christmas tradition. Five bees.

♥♥♥

Visitors count to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 40, 290

♥♥♥

Notice to all those who have requested a book review

Thank you for your interest, and my apologies for not responding to your request individually. I’m getting there, but the numbers have been overwhelming. Please extend your patience just a bit longer.

 

Thanks again!

 ♥♥♥

If you would like to learn more about any of my books, or to order copies, click on the specific cover below. Two Irish Lads and Nor All Thy Tears are available in both Kindle and Nook formats. Publisher’s price, $4.95.

      

Thanks for dropping by. At this time of year, may I wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and much happiness and prosperity. Regards, Gerry B.


[1] Named in commemoration of explorer and navigator, John Cabot, who landed on the coast of Cape Breton Island in 1497.

[2] Bras d’Or Lake is where Alexander Graham Bell had his summer home at Baddeck. It is also where his design of a heavier-than-air-aircraft (the “Dart”) was the first to fly in the British Empire (which included Canada), in 1917. The pilot was J.A.D. McCurdy, who would later be named Lieutenant-Governor of the Province of Nova Scotia).

December 17, 2012 Posted by | Canadian author, Canadian content, fiction/autobiographical, non-GLBT | Leave a comment

Shirts and Skins, by Jeffrey Luscombe

 raw, funny, pathetic and inspiring

bee5

shirts and skins - coverA remarkable debut novel from Jeffrey Luscombe-a compelling series of linked stories of a young man’s coming-out, coming-of-age, and coming-to-terms with his family and fate. Josh Moore lives with his family on the ‘wrong side’ of Hamilton, a gritty industrial city in southwestern Ontario. As a young boy, Josh plots an escape for a better life far from the steel mills that lined the bay. But fate has other plans and Josh discovers his adult life in Toronto is just as fraught with as many insecurities and missteps as his youth and he soon learns that no matter how far away he might run, he will never be able to leave his hometown behind.

Front cover design: Seth Ruggles Hiler

shirts and skins - authorAbout the author: Jeffrey Luscombe was born in Hamilton, Ontario Canada. He holds a BA and MA in English from the University of Toronto. He attended The Humber College School for Writers where he was mentored by writers Nino Ricci and Lauren B. Davis. He has had fiction published in Tupperware Sandpiper, Zeugma Literary Journal, and filling Station Magazine. In 2010 he was shortlisted for the Prism International Fiction Prize and was a contributor to the anthology Truth or Dare (Slash Books Inc. 2011). He lives in Toronto with his husband Sean.

Available in Kindle and paperback – 349 KB, 230 pgs.

♣♣♣

Review by Gerry Burnie

shirts and skins - hamiltonI spent three years in Hamilton, Ontario, in the early 1960s, having been transferred there as assistant manager of the Odeon Palace Theatre—a former vaudeville house with an original Wurlitzer theatre organ. It was grand (the theatre), but life in the rest of the city was like living on the far side of the moon; drab, utilitarian, and closeted. So when I came across Jeffrey Luscombe’s novel, Shirts and Skins [Chelsea Station Editions, 2012], set in Hamilton in the 1980s and 90s, I just had to read it.

The book is organized (quite cleverly, I think) into a chronology of short stories, starting with the main character’s formative years in Hamilton. Josh Moore is the son of a dysfunctional, working class family. His long-suffering mother is a factory worker, and his alcoholic father—also addicted to gambling—works sporadically at menial jobs.

Josh’s schooling is no more inspiring, being plagued by boredom, bullying, and poor grades. However, as he grows older he becomes a bit of a bully himself, emulating what he basically despises.

Likewise, he dreams of escaping “Steel Town” for far away places, but each time the reality of earning a living (in a steel mill) and the comfortable routine of living anchor him deeper in the town and society he abhors.

In every life there comes a turning point, however, and provided we have the courage to grasp it, it can make the difference between happiness and continued despair. In Josh’s case he was jarred into it by an industrial accident, but during his recuperative period he also found an opportunity to re-evaluate his life. Finding it wanting, he then begins the process of finding himself—his inner core—and to pull himself up by the bootstraps

This is fiction emulating non-fiction (which I suspect it might be, in part), for every part of this story reads like a biography: The setting; the working class culture and mores; Josh as a troubled youngster and adolescent; and Josh as an adult in Toronto. It is raw, funny, pathetic and inspiring. Five bees.

♣♣♣

40,000!

As of December 14, 2012, the visitor count to Gerry B’s Book reviews is 40,025.

♣♣♣

Notice to all those who have requested a book review

Thank you for your interest, and my apologies for not responding to your request individually. I’m getting there, but the numbers have been overwhelming. Please extend your patience just a bit longer.

Thanks again!

 

♣♣♣

broken afflictions - coverShawnda Currie: Broken  – Afflictions of the Evolved Free Download
In celebration of the release of book two of The Evolved Trilogy, there will be a free download on amazon.com
http://www.amazon.com/Broken-Afflictions-Evolved-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00AJB5FQE on Saturday, 15 December 2012.
If you don’t have a kindle, you can download a free application to your computer or phone!
It would be greatly appreciated if you could follow up with a review as this is very helpful to authors…….:)

 ♣♣♣

If you would like to learn more about any of my books, or to order copies, click on the specific cover below. Two Irish Lads and Nor All Thy Tears are available in both Kindle and Nook formats. Publisher’s price, $4.95.

      

Thanks for dropping by. By this time next week we should have reached 40,000 visitors. Drop by and see.

December 10, 2012 Posted by | Canadian author, Canadian content, Coming out, Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay Literature | 3 Comments

Cowboys, Armageddon, and The Truth: How a Gay Child was Saved From Religion, by Scott Terry

A raw but optimistic story of human resilience – 

bee5

Cowboys, armaghedon, etc. - coverStory blurb: Cowboys, Armageddon, and The Truth: How a Gay Child Was Saved from Religion offers an illuminating glimpse into a child’s sequestered world of abuse, homophobia, and religious extremism. Scott Terry’s memoir is a compelling, poignant and occasionally humorous look into the Jehovah’s Witness faith — a religion that refers to itself as The Truth — and a brave account of Terry’s successful escape from a troubled past.

At the age of ten, Terry had embraced the Witnesses’ prediction that the world would come to an end in 1975 and was preparing for Armageddon. As an adolescent, he prayed for God to strip away his growing attraction to other young men. But, by adulthood, Terry found himself no longer believing in the promised apocalypse. Through a series of adventures and misadventures, he left the Witness religion behind and became a cowboy, riding bulls in the rodeo. He overcame the hurdles of parental abuse, religious extremism, and homophobia, and learned that Truth is a concept of honesty rather than false righteousness, a means to live a life openly, for Terry as a gay man.

About the author: In 2007, Scott Terry sent an excerpt from his yet-to-be published book, Cowboys, Armageddon, and The Truth, to the San Francisco Chronicle. An hour later, he received a freelance contract and a request for more, leading to many stories for the paper.

In his book, Cowboys, Armageddon, and The Truth, Terry has produced a gritty and poignant autobiography of an innocent boy escaping an abusive and fanatical childhood. Scott Terry was raised as a devout Jehovah’s Witness, and spent his childhood praying for Armageddon to come and asking God to heal him of his homosexual thoughts. By adulthood, he had escaped the Witness religion and no longer believed in an upcoming apocalypse. Indeed, as a gay man and a real cowboy, he was riding bulls in the rodeo, abandoning all faith in religion.

Scott writes for the Huffington Post, and also writes a blog for http://www.Freeminds.org, one of the largest ex-cult and ex-Witness websites. Scott Terry is an urban farmer, a watercolorist, an installation artist and a successful businessman. He lives in Northern California.

♠♠♠

Review by Gerry Burnie

When it comes to eating and reading, I am a compulsive. I generally decide what I want to eat at the last moment, and I choose what I want to read by a mood that overtakes me at the time. Last week, while I was preparing for this review, I decided I was in a biography mood; someone or something interesting with an off-beat story. Consequently, when I came across Cowboys, Armageddon, and The Truth: How a Gay Child was Saved From Religion by Scott Terry [Lethe Press, October 2012] it filled the bill very nicely.

It is the author’s own story of an adolescence dominated by a shrewish stepmother who took perverse satisfaction in psychologically abusing him, telling him he was unloved and unwanted, and at the same time filling his head with thoughts of Armageddon in his own lifetime. It was also a time when Scott began to notice his attraction to other boys, and the conflict this created in light of his parents’ homophobic beliefs and that of their Jehovah’s Witness religion.

To this point there is little unique about this story: An abused lad at the hands of a dominating mother; a semi-cult religion with a homophobic bent; and a conflicted emerging homosexuality. However, what is refreshing is the positive attitude Terry maintains throughout, and the lessons to be gained from it.

Going back to the story, the situation finally came to a head when Scott’s sister insisted on returning to her biological mother, and the stepmother forbade him to have any contact with her. Fortunately, Scott had other relatives who weren’t caught up in the Jehovah’s Witness religion, and who had genuine compassion for him. Using this support as a base, Scott  gained the strength to accept his sexuality and move on–eventually becoming a rodeo performer.

This is a raw story of bad parenting—which debunks the tired old adage that “mother knows best”—and also the destructive nature of some dogmatic religions. However, it is also an inspirational story of resilience, even at a young age, and the ability to overcome adversity. Five bees.

♠♠♠

Visitors count to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 38,962

♠♠♠

Notice to all those who have requested a book review

Thank you for your interest, and my apologies for not responding to your request individually. I’m getting there, but the numbers have been overwhelming. Please extend your patience just a bit longer.

Thanks again!

♠♠♠

Stop the Bull: Canadian history made boring…

bullpoohI had reason to go looking for a Canadian web site similar to Legends Of America, an excellent history resource with some real ‘meat’ to it—meaning, it is history made interesting. It also features some Canadian characters who have played a significant role in American history, i.e. Pearl HartBat Masterson, etc., for which there is hardly a mention in Canadian-based histories.
A veritable wasteland

 What I found was a depressing collection of thumbnail sketches, afterthoughts  to American frontier history, a roll call of stodgy Canadian/British statesmen (John A. Macdonald, etc.), and lesson plans so dry you could strike a match on them. More

♠♠♠

If you would like to learn more about any of my books, or to order copies, click on the specific cover below. Two Irish Lads and Nor All Thy Tears are available in both Kindle and Nook formats. Publisher’s price, $4.95.

      

Thanks for dropping by. Just a little bit more than 1,000 visits to go to reach 40,000 visits–20,000 more than last year. Yay!!

 

 

 

 

December 3, 2012 Posted by | Autobiography, Coming out, Gay non-fiction, Non-fiction | 4 Comments

   

%d bloggers like this: