Gerry B's Book Reviews

Tigers and Devils (Tigers and Devils #1) by Sean Kennedy

Love scores a goal!

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Tigers and devils - coverStory blurb: The most important things in Simon Murray’s life are football, friends, and film—in that order. His friends despair of him ever meeting someone, but despite his loneliness, Simon is cautious about looking for more. Then his best friends drag him to a party, where he barges into a football conversation and ends up defending the honour of star forward Declan Tyler—unaware that the athlete is present. In that first awkward meeting, neither man has any idea they will change each other’s lives forever.

Like his entire family, Simon revels in living in Melbourne, the home of Australian Rules football and mecca for serious fans. There, players are treated like gods—until they do something to fall out of public favour. This year, the public is taking Declan to task for suffering injuries outside his control, so Simon’s support is a bright spot.

But as Simon and Declan fumble toward a relationship, keeping Declan’s homosexuality a secret from well-meaning friends and an increasingly suspicious media becomes difficult. Nothing can stay hidden forever. Soon Declan will have to choose between the career he loves and the man he wants, and Simon has never been known to make things easy—for himself or for others.

Cover art by Catt Ford

About the author: Sean Kennedy was born in 1975 in Melbourne, Australia, but currently lives in the second most isolated city in the world (although there still seems to be conjecture over whether it is actually number one). Living in such deprived circumstances can only affect his writing, which is published by Dreamspinner Press.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

Seeing all the five-star reviews for Tigers and Devils (Tigers and Devils #1) by Sean Kennedy [Dreamspinner Press; 2 edition, August 30, 2012] is very impressive. I liked it too (deservedly so), but I couldn’t quite go five bees.

The blurb synopsizes the plot quite well, and so I will concentrate more on what I liked and was reserved by in this book.

I thought the plot—although not particularly unique—was captivating with some nice romantic scenes, and enough angst to keep it interesting. I also liked how the author brought the two somewhat disparate characters together: with Simon defending Declan while he was present, but unbeknownst to the other. Nice touch.

The character development is well done, over all. I had a good visual sense of Declan, but not so much his thinking. Of course, this is largely due to Simon’s first-person point of view, so it is a minor drawback. The secondary character were interesting as well—particularly Simon’s married friends who added different dimension to the story. It also goes without saying the the writing is first rate.

I did have some issues with pace. It seemed to drag in places—particularly in the first half of the story—and, as has been mentioned by others, this is partially due to the length. However, I do sympathize with the author on this point. I also hate to part with prose after I have laboured over it. It’s sort of like cutting off an ear lobe.

That said, I really did like the story and I think you will too. Four bees.

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May 27, 2013 Posted by | Fiction, gay athletes, Gay fiction, Gay romance | Leave a comment

Jimmy Simpson: Legend of the Rockies, by E. J. Hart

This is the way history should be taught … With joie de vivre! Bravo E. J. Hart!!

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jimmy simpson - coverStory blurb: The Stoney Indians called him Nashan-esen meaning “wolverine-go-quick” because of his speed in travelling on snowshoes over the rugged landscape of the Canadian Rockies. This book is the story of Jimmy Simpson’s 80-year epic as one of the most important guides, outfitters, lodge operators, hunters, naturalists and artists in the Canadian Rockies. The story takes him from blazing the trails in the valley bottoms to ascending some of the highest peaks in the range, from leading scientists, mountaineers, big-game hunters and world-famous artists through some of the most unimaginable scenery on earth to entertaining thousands of visitors at his famous lodge at Bow Lake with his tales-both true and tall-of the pioneer days.

jimmy simpson - E. J. HartAbout the author: E.J. “Ted” Hart is the director of the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies in Banff and the author of numerous popular and bestselling books on the Canadian Rockies.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

A while ago some government official, I can’t remember who, was ruminating over the best way to teach kids about Canadian history. Simple: Make it interesting.

When I was going to school, and from what I’ve seen since, [see: Canadian History Made Boring], it is as if educators have gone out of their way to make history as unpalatable as possible. The fact is that Canada has a history as colourful and entertaining as any in the world, and it only remains for kids and adults alike to discover this.

We have real Sergeant Prestons who patrolled the Yukon, cattle drives undertaken though 1,500 hundred miles of primeval wilderness, pioneers who transported several stallions and breeding cattle 800 miles by canoe, great train robberies and gunfights that would make O.K. Corral look like an afternoon social, and yet very few people know about it. Fortunately, we also have people like E. J. Hart to write marvelous books like Jimmy Simpson: Legend of the Rockies [Rocky Mountain Books, First Edition, October 2009].

jimmy_simpson - portraitNow if this were being taught in school, we would dutifully learn that Jimmy Simpson (1877 – 1972) emigrated from England, arriving in Winnipeg in 1896. There he farmed for a while until he decided to go West [psst, after drinking up all his money]. He therefore pawned his gold watch and chain, and took a train to Calgary. Hearing of work on the railway he stowed away on a westbound train, but when he was discovered and kicked off he walked the 20-or-so-miles to Laggan (just below Lake Louise).

Being adventurous, Simpson signed on as cook with legendary outfitter, Tom Wilson, and began learning the outfitting business from “Wild” Bill Peyto—another legendary Rocky Mountain adventurer.

jimmy simpson - bow lake glaciersIn 1898, while working for Wilson, Simpson happened upon Bow Lake with the ice field and two magnificent glaciers above. He and his companions camped by the northern end of the lake, and it was there the he made his now famous proclamation: “I’ll build a shack here sometime,” he said.

Eventually Simpson left Wilson to strike out on his own, supplementing his guiding and outfitting business with trapping. To get around he took up snow shoeing, becoming so proficient at it that the local Indians gave him the honorary title of “Nashan-esen” (meaning “wolverine-go-quickly”).

jimmy simpson - num ti jahIn 1922 he returned to Bow Lake to build his log shack—as he had vowed to do—and when the Banff-Jasper Highway was built, bringing automobile traffic to the area in 1937, he built a small lodge to accommodate them. He called this lodge “Num-te-jah,” the Indian word for pine marten.

Business grew, and in the 1940s a major expansion to the lodge was undertaken to bring its capacity to sixteen rooms.

The original lodge became Simpson’s personal residence where he died in 1972, at the age of 95.

Interesting enough, I suppose, but as E. J. Hart has so masterfully demonstrated by way of Simpson`s own anecdotes, it says nothing about the man or his remarkable wit. For example:

[Fred Ballard was a partner in the trapping business for a (short) while.]

Ballard had been teasing me about a new suit of underwear that had been in the cabin all winter and as to how nice it was going to feel inside it when he got to it. When we arrived he got to it all right but the cabin had leaked and it was sopping wet inside so we built a bit fire outside and made camp. Fred squeezed the water out of it and spread it out in front of the fire carefully while I cooked up what flour was there and made a small bannock, and it was small. When cooked I halved it and his half past his tonsils as fast as a cable [trans-Atlantic telegraph] going over to the old country for more money while I sat on a log and ate mine slowly. That was too much for Fred. Pretty soon he snapped, “If there is anything I hate it’s to see is a man chawing on a piece of bread that I could swallow in two bites, especially when he has only one good eye to chaw with.” [Simpson had a temporary snow blindness in one eye]. I understood.

We lay down to sleep before the fire but in the middle of the night I was awakened by bad language in time to see Ballard holding up a piece of underwear with five button holes on it. A piece of charcoal had got to it while he was asleep so I thought condolences were due. “That’s not too bad,” I said, “All it needs is new arms and legs and a piece on the back to fold over the chest, those five button holes still look quite good.” The air was blue.

Another example of Simpson’s wit relates to an exploration trip he and “Wild” Bill Peyto took one winter. They had stopped for a smoke beside a huge dead spruce and Jimmy drove his axe into it. From inside came a sound like falling debris, so he hit it again with the back of the axe. He was about to do it again when, to his astonishment, it opened up and the head of a two-year old grizzly poked through. This is how he described what happened next:

Nine foot five is my record standing jump and I made it backwards. turning in mid air, and then I started showing squirrels how to climb a tree. I measured that jump next day with a copy of“Tid-Bits”that sported a foot rule on the cover. When I made the top I looked back. There was Bill cussing a blue streak and kicking that bear’s head back every time it poked its nose through. It had gone into hibernation and was in a semi comatose condition but it was fast in waking up. Bill called to me, I dropped out of the blue like dose of measles and we lit out for the camp. Next day we gathered it in.

This is how history should be taught. With some life in it. Sadly these people have passed on, but their way of life, their wit and humour, should not be buried with them.

For people, like me, who enjoy a history lesson that reads like a novel; that allows the reader to appreciate the times through the eyes of colourful characters like Simpson; and that is valid history at the same time, then I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Thank you E. J. Hart. Five bees.

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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.

      

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May 21, 2013 Posted by | Alberta history, biography, Canadian author, Canadian biography, Canadian content, Canadian frontier stories, Canadian historical content, non GBLT, Non-fiction, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Texas Pride, by Kindle Alexander

A gentle romance between an ex-movie star and a cowboy

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texas pride - coverStory blurb: When mega movie star and two time Academy Award winner, Austin Grainger voluntarily gave up his dazzling film career, his adoring fan base thought he’d lost his mind. For Austin, the seclusion of fifteen hundred acres in the middle of Texas sounds like paradise. No more cameras, paparazzi, or overzealous media to hound him every day and night. Little did the sexiest man alive know when one door closes, another usually opens. And Austin’s opened by way of a sexy, hot ranch owner right next door. 

Kitt Kelly wasn’t your average rancher. He’s young, well educated and has hidden his sexuality for most of his life. When his long time wet dream materializes as his a new neighbor it threatens everything he holds dear. No way the ranching community would ever accept him if he came out. With every part of his life riding on the edge, can Kitt risk it all for a chance at love or will responsibility to his family heritage cost him his one chance at happiness?

About the author: Best Selling Author Kindle Alexander is a innovative writer, and a genre-crosser who writes classic fantasy, romance, suspense, and erotica in both the male/male and male/female genres. It’s always a surprise to see what’s coming next! Happily married, with five children, and four dogs living in the suburbs of Dallas, where the only thing bigger than the over active imagination, may be the women’s hair!

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Review by Gerry Burnie

As I’ve mentioned before, I generally avoid contemporary western novels because they are too often just a series of romps in the sack with very little plot. There are many that aren’t, of course, and happily Texas Pride by Kindle Alexander [The Kindle Alexander Collection LLC, March 16, 2013] is one of them.

The well-written story blurb covers the plot fairly well: A famous in-the-closet Hollywood star (Austin Grainger) suddenly hangs up his make-up kit for life on a fifteen-hundred-acre ranch located in his home town.

Unbeknownst, a fellow in-the-closet case (Kitt Kelly) owns the adjoining Ranch. However, when Grainger re-encounters Kitt (they had admired each others assets in high school) he sets out to get him into his corral.

Kitt is deeply in the closet, however, and although he’s fine with the sex he makes it clear that he has a lot riding on getting the family ranch back in business—not to mention a step-mother and sisters who are counting on him.

The inevitable happens (of course), but to add some angst to the story the author employs a group of sleazy tabloid hounds who manage to out the two lovers to the shock and astonishment of their home town. 

Will the two men be able to weather the outcome? That, I’ll leave for the readers to discover.

Over all I liked the main characters—Kitt in particular—and for the most part the business (i.e. action) was well-paced and plausible. The plot was interesting, although not unique in any way, and the ending was gratifying.

Unfortunately, the shortcoming came at a most fundamental level—grammar and spelling. I realize that professional editors are expensive, usually costing one or two thousand dollars for a good one, but spellcheck should pick up most typos, and a reasonably literate friend can pick up the simple grammatical errors–like tense.

All that said, it’s a pleasant romance with a happy ending. Three and one-half bees.

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A fun and interesting, vidwo review of “Two Irish Lads” by Angello Adrien

To view just follow this link

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zaopf4_BiQ8

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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.

      

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May 13, 2013 Posted by | Gay fiction, Gay romance, Hollywood, Homoerotic | Leave a comment

A Younger Man (Cabin Fever #3) by Cameron Dane

A true romance with a happy ending.

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a younger man - coverStory blurb: Recently divorced and out of the closet, Noah Maitland is a regular-Joe, salt-of-the-earth guy who is newly navigating the world of dating other men. So far he hasn’t had a lot of luck. Noah is a father first — he has two teenage sons. As the owner of a handyman business in a small community, Noah wants someone to love who is also appropriate for where he is in his life.

Zane Halliday is a young man — much too young for Noah — who is struggling to take care of his brother and sister and meet his bills every month. Recently thrown out of his apartment, Zane stumbles on Noah, literally. Noah offers Zane a place where he and his siblings can temporarily live, and later gives him a part time job.

Each man is dealing with his own set of problems, and both crave someone to talk to and trust. Soon a friendship between Noah and Zane blossoms. But Noah could never fall for someone so much younger than he is — not to mention Zane is not gay. But what if sexually innocent Zane isn’t as straight as he assumed he was? How will Noah be able to resist this much younger man once Zane figures out the only person he wants is Noah?

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Review by Gerry Burnie

A Younger Man (Cabin Fever #3) by Cameron Dane [Liquid Silver Books, July 30, 2012] is the third in a series, but it is the first for me. I was drawn to it by the notion of a recently divorced, older man and a younger, straight man, finding common ground in a loving relationship. That juxtaposition made me curious as to how the author would handle it, and indeed Ms Dane made quite a good story out these disparate elements.

Since his divorce, Noah Maitland has had little luck finding a male mate until fate crosses his path with a much younger man’s (Zane Halliday) who, with two younger siblings has recently been evicted from their apartment. Noah is moved to help by giving them a place to stay and Zane a part-time job, but otherwise he keeps his distance.

Zane, an impoverished but responsible young man, is secretly awestruck by the older man’s compassion, but is shocked when he learns Noah is gay. Nonetheless, on second thought, he realizes he has genuine feelings for his benefactor that go beyond the latter’s benevolence.

Beyond this, the story focuses on Noah’s and Zane’s developing relationship. There are some baddies, but these are mostly relegated to sub-plot status, and there is a HEA ending.

On the good side I thought the character development was very good, especially regarding Noah and Zane, and the kids and siblings were delightful too. The plot was innovative, and the balance between emotional highs and angst seemed quite natural. However, there were some drawbacks.

As has been mentioned by others, the sex scenes were profusely detailed (going on for pages), which only emphasized some anomalies that were questionable; i.e. Do men really do that much deep thinking when they are engaged (and engrossed) in sex? From my experience, I think not.

There was also a fair degree of word repetition, and some rather odd similes—i.e. “tresses” to describe a man’s hair.

Nonetheless the stronger points outweigh the weaker ones, so for a truly feel-good romance I can heartily recommend this one. Three bees.

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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!

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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.

      

Thank you for dropping by. Be sure to come back next week when I will have another interesting novel for your consideration.

May 6, 2013 Posted by | Coming out, Fiction, Gay romance | Leave a comment

   

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