Gerry B's Book Reviews

Real Good Man (Canadian Heroes #2) by Elise Whyles

You can’t win ‘em all…

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Click on the cover to purchase from Barnes & Noble

Click on the cover to purchase from Barnes & Noble

Story blurb: In Book 2 of the Canadian Heroes series you’ll discover love can grow in the most unlikely places. Set in the rugged beauty of Banff, two men will find romance. But will love be reason enough to let go of the past and their fears, or like winter snow on blades of grass, will self-doubt and suspicion destroy their passion?

Sean Tisman lives in fear of his father’s prejudice. When he’s stationed in Banff he’s determined to live life on his terms. When he meets his counterpart, Sean’s world is thrown into further upheaval.

Luke Marshall is a man licking his wounds. After a bad break with his ex, he’s relieved to be given his old post; that is until he meets the man of his dreams in the young game warden assigned to Banff. Can their love survive the secrets and danger that lie in wait for them?

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Review by Gerry Burnie

I’m always ready to pick up anything with ‘Canadian’ in the title, and Real Good Man (Canadian Heroes #2)by Elise Whyles [Liquid Silver Books, February 17, 2013] had all the right words.

Set in the breathtakingly beautiful Banff region of northern Alberta, the story involves Luke, a jilted lover of a heartless cad who had the gall to bring his cuckold home to his lover’s house and bed.

Traumatized by this unexpected turn of events, Luke immerses himself in work with a determined not to make the same mistake again; to which we can all identify. However, as we all know equally well, fate has a way of challenging our resolve.

Enter Sean — of the perfect body and green eyes. He is escaping an abusive father who is just a little right of Attila the Hun, and for this purpose the wilderness of northern Alberta seems like the perfect solution.

However, here is where fate turns up the heat as well, for these two ‘wounded’ individuals are thrown together in a combination of need and lust.

The difficulty is that neither knows where the other stand—sexually speaking—and so they circle on another waiting for the other to make the first move. Needless to say, this creates a certain amount of frustration until in a minor explosion they both discover the other is gay, and that each is attracted to the other.

Nonetheless, things are ‘not happy ever after’ just yet. There are spectres from the past that must be dealt with, both literally and figuratively, before this can happen.

Review:-

Although she has several novels to her credit, this is the first work from this author I have read, and the impression I got is that it may have been rushed into publication. There is an ‘unfinished’ quality about it, not to mention some continuity issues. As one reviewer has already pointed out, in one sex scene the characters starts off by donning a condom, but results in sperm being smeared over the other character’s body. So what happened in between?

Then there is my old complaint about angst-driven gay stories. Yes, persecution has been very much part of the GBLT story, but it isn’t the whole story. Nonetheless, a good 80 – 90 percent of GBLT stories I read and review are angst-driven: ‘The great blight of sameness.’

Three bees.

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Viewers of Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 69,223

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Interested in Canadian history? Want to know more? Then visit my new page:  In Praise of Canadian History.

 

It is a collection of people, facts and events in Canadian history, and includes a bibliography of interesting Canadian books as well. Latest post:  Molly Lamb-Bobak, CM, ONB: Canada’s first Official Woman War Artist.

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If you would like to learn more about 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.

       

 

Notice to all those who have requested a book review

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May 26, 2014 Posted by | a love story, Canadian content, Coming out, Fiction, Gay fiction | Leave a comment

Trails Plowed Under by Charles M. Russell

I am adding a new, all-time favourite to my list…

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trails plowed under - cover twoPublisher’s blurb: Excerpts from Introduction: I have many friends among cowmen and cowpunchers. I have always been what is called a good mixer I had friends when I had nothing else. My friends were not always within the law, but I haven’t said how law-abiding I was myself. I haven’t been too bad nor too good to get along with. Life has never been too serious with me I lived to play and I’m playing yet. Laughs and good judgment have saved me many a black eye, but I don’t laugh at other’s tears. I was a wild young man, but age has made me gentle. I drank, but never alone, and when I drank it was no secret. I am still friendly with drinking men…

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Review by Gerry Burnie

Although I have personally reviewed over two hundred fiction and non-fiction books, I admit I have my favourites. Blazing the Old Cattle Trail by Canadian Grant MacEwan; We Pointed Them North: Recollections of a cowpuncher  by E.C. “Teddy Blue” Abbott and Helena Huntington Smith; and Klondike Cattle Drive by Norman Lee are three that I can think of off-hand, but now I can add another: Trails Plowed Under by Charles Marion Russell [Bison Books, July 28, 1996.] with forward by Will Rogers.

'The West that's passed' "When the land belonged to God"

‘The West that’s passed’
“When the land belonged to God”

Most people know Charles Russell as an internationally acclaimed artist, illustrator and painter of “The West that’s passed,” (his own words), but fewer know that he was a gifted writer of tall tales as well. “Betwine the pen and the brush there is little diffornce but I belive the man that makes word pictures is the greater.” ~ Charles M. Russell letter to Ralph S. Kendall, November 26, 1919.

Like most great writers, Russell knew his material first-hand. He was born March 19, 1864, in St. Louis, Missouri, on the edge of the burgeoning western frontier. As a boy, he crafted his own expectations of the American West by filling his schoolbooks with drawings of cowboys and Indians. Shortly before turning 16, he arrived in Montana, where he spent eleven years working various ranching jobs. He sketched in his free time and soon gained a local reputation as an artist. His firsthand experience as a ranch hand.

trails plowed under - cm russell portraitCharlie Russell became the personification of the West itself. He wanted little to do with the present and nothing to do with the future, and chose to celebrate and romanticize only the traditions and virtues of the West as he envisioned it. He wanted it known that he had taken part in the Old West, and was a better man for it. Even as an internationally-known western artist, Russell cherished—far more than his skills—his friendships and his place as a peer among common people.

Although he produced over 4,000 works of art and 27 books to internation acclaim, with fame went modesty. Charles Russell often said that God had given him his talent, that nature provided the schooling, and that therefore he had no cause to boast about the results. The talent was undeniable. He could model figures out of beeswax or clay without looking at his hands. From memory, he could paint men and horses he had known decades before, in action and with features which old-timers could identify, And he could accurately record in writing the speech patterns of wranglers, nighthawks, and rawhides long since vanished.

Russell was not so good a writer as he was a painter, illustrator, or sculptor. But that undeniable fact should blind no one to the rich excellences of his short stories, semiautobiographical anecdotes, and essays. At their best, they have the twang and tang of Mark Twain, Bret Harte, and Will Rogers. The main virtues of Russell’s writings are the same as those which distinguish his best art work: authenticity, detail, suspense, and humor.

But rather than try to explain the rustic charm of his stories, here is an example from Trails Plowed Under:

Gift Horse

trails plowed under - 'gift horse'Charley Furiman tells me about a hoss he owns and if you’re able to stay on him he’ll take you to the end of the trail. The gent Charley got him from says he’s, “Gentle. He’s a pet.” (This man hates to part with him.) “He’s a lady’s hoss. You can catch him anywhere with a biscuit.

“Next day Charley finds out he’s a lady’s hoss, all right, but he don’t like men. Furiman ain’t a mile from his corral when he slips the pack. Charley crawls him again kinder careful and rides him sixty miles an’ he don’t turn a hair. Next day he saddles him he acts like he’s harmless but he’s looking for something. He’s out about ten mile. Charley notices he travels with one ear down. This ain’t a good sign, but Charley gets careless and about noon he comes to a dry creek bed where there’s lots of boulders. That’s what this cayuse is looking for ’cause right in the middle of the boulder-strewn flat is where he breaks in two and unloads. Charley tells me, “I don’t miss none of them boulders an’ where I light there’s nothing gives but different parts of me. For a while I wonder where I’m at and when things do clear up it comes to me right quick. I forgot to bring the biscuits. How am I going to catch him? If I had a Winchester, I’d catch him just over the eye.

“To make a long story short, I followed him back to the ranch afoot. Walking ain’t my strong holt an’ these boulder bumps don’t help me none. Next morning after a good night’s sleep, I feel better. Going out to the corral, I offer this cayuse a biscuit, thinkin’ I’ll start off friendly. He strikes at me and knocks my hat off. My pardner tries to square it by telling me I ain’t got the right kind. ‘That’s a lady’s hoss,’ says he, ‘and being a pet, he wants them little lady’s biscuits; it’s enough to make him sore, handing him them sour doughs.’

“While I’m getting my hat, I happen to think of a friend of mine that’s got married and I ain’t give him no wedding present. This friend of mine is a bronk rider named Con Price. So while my heart’s good, I saddle a gentle hoss and lead this man-hater over and presents him to Price with my best wishes. “I don’t meet Con till next fall on the beef roundup. He ain’t too friendly. Next morning when we’re roping hosses, he steps up to me and says, kinder low, holdin’ out his hand to shake, ‘Charley, I’m letting bygones be bygones, but if I get married again anywhere in your neighborhood, don’t give me no wedding presents. If you do you’ll get lots of flowers.”

For anyone who enjoys Western yarns, told be someone who experienced the West first hand, and can spin a yarn the way it was told, this collection is for you. Five bees.

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Some examples of Charlie Russell’s Paintings that appeal to me:

"When Law Dulls The Edge of Chance"

“When Law Dulls The Edge of Chance”

"Meats Not Meat Til It's In The Pan"

“Meats Not Meat Til It’s In The Pan”

"Bronc to Breakfast"

“Bronc to Breakfast”

"Wild Horse Hunters"

“Wild Horse Hunters”

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Viewers of Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 68,844

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  Interested in Canadian history? Want to know more? Then visit my new page:  In Praise of Canadian History.

It is a collection of people, facts and events in Canadian history, and includes a bibliography of interesting Canadian books as well. Latest post:  Molly Lamb-Bobak, CM, ONB: Canada’s first Official Woman War Artist.

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 Introducing a new logo for Gerry Burnie Books:

logo - gerry burnie books - couple

If you would like to learn more about 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.

       

Notice to all those who have requested a book reviewThank 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!

Thanks for dropping by! I’ll have another novel ready for next week, same URL, so drop back soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 19, 2014 Posted by | Charles Marion Russell, Real Western Tales, Semi-biographical, Western Vernacular | Leave a comment

The Reluctant Berserker, by Alex Beecroft

Altogether, a masterful piece of fiction.

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reluctant berserker - coverStory blurb: Manhood is about more than who’s on top.

Wulfstan, a noble and fearsome Saxon warrior, has spent most of his life hiding the fact that he would love to be cherished by someone stronger than himself. Not some slight, beautiful nobody of a harper who pushes him up against a wall and kisses him.

In the aftermath, Wulfstan isn’t sure what he regrets most—that he only punched the churl in the face, or that he really wanted to give in.

Leofgar is determined to prove he’s as much of a man as any Saxon. But now he’s got a bigger problem than a bloody nose. The lord who’s given him shelter from the killing cold is eyeing him like a wolf eyes a wounded hare.

When Wulfstan accidentally kills a friend who is about to blurt his secret, he flees in panic and meets Leofgar, who is on the run from his lord’s lust. Together, pursued by a mother’s curse, they battle guilt, outlaws, and the powers of the underworld, armed only with music…and love that must overcome murderous shame to survive.

Warning: Contains accurate depictions of Vikings, Dark Ages magic, kickass musicians, trope subversions and men who don’t know their place.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

I like the late Saxon era for the pivotal role it played between the old and new beliefs, both socially and religiously, and for the strong masculine values it harboured. However, I must say the title The Reluctant Berserker [Samhain Publishing, Ltd., February 25, 2014] threw me off at first. Nevertheless, the well-acclaimed reputation of Alex Beecroft as an historical fiction writer held my interest.

If there is one word that sums up both the writing and the plot, it is ‘balance.’ The writing is a balance between lean narrative and poetic description, and the plot is a balance between romance and adventure, as well as love and adversity. Even the language is a balance between modern and old English. i.e. ‘Scop’ meaning musician, and ‘Wycce’ meaning witch or witchcraft, etc.

Wufstan is a Anglo-Saxon soldier in the service of Lord Ecgbert, and as such he is expected to be the epitome of masculinity. However, Wufstan has a covert desire that he dare not reveal, and this is brought into conflict when Leofgar corners him for a passionate kiss. Uncertain how to react, he rebuffs Leofgar somewhat violently; nonetheless, the spark has been ignited.

Leofgar and his maser, Anna, are then exiled from the village to wander, and as winter approaches the beseech a rather lecherous lord to be allowed to occupy a place in his forest. It is here that the aging Anna dies, and when the lord comes to collect his ‘favour’ Leofgar flees.

Meanwhile, Wufstan unintentionally kills his best friend Cenred (who is about to reveal Wufstan’s secret), and consumed by guilt he leaves the village as well. Before he leaves, however, Cenred’s mother—a Wycce—curses him with one of her spells and then follows him to see it work.

Now that Wufstan and Leofgar are both outcasts, fate arranges a chance meeting of the two, and from that point on they give in to their feelings to fight the forces that would destroy them; both physically and as a couple.

“Better to accept fate joyfully than to fight it, for it will win no matter what we do.”

There is little that one could criticise about this story, for every minor shortcoming—like an overly convenient plot twist—was balanced by flawless writing and evocative settings. Altogether a masterful depiction of time and place. Four and one-half bees.

 

Viewers of Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 68,420

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 Interested in Canadian history? Want to know more? Then visit my new page:  In Praise of Canadian History.

It is a collection of people, facts and events in Canadian history, and includes a bibliography of interesting Canadian books as well. Latest post:  Farley McGill MowatA consummate Canadian.

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If you would like to learn more about 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.

       

 

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!

Thanks for dropping by! I’ll have another novel ready for next week, same URL, so drop back soon.

 

 

 

May 12, 2014 Posted by | a love story, Fantasy, Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay romance | Leave a comment

While England Sleeps, by David Leavitt

A historical novel that lives up to its name.

 

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while england sleeps - coverSet against the rise of fascism in 1930s Europe, While England Sleeps tells the story of a love affair between Brian Botsford, an upper-class young English writer, and Edward Phelan, an idealistic employee of the London Underground and member of the Communist Party. Though far better educated than Edward, Brian is also far more callow, convinced that his homosexuality is something he will outgrow. Edward, on the other hand, possesses “an unproblematic capacity to accept” both Brian and the unorthodox nature of their love for each other—until one day, at the urging of his wealthy aunt Constance, Brian agrees to be set up with a “suitable” young woman named Philippa Archibald . . . Pushed to the point of crisis, Edward flees, volunteering to fight Franco in Spain, where he ends up in prison. And Brian, feeling responsible for Edward’s plight, must pursue him across Europe, and into the chaos of war.

About the author: David Leavitt is a graduate of Yale University and a professor at the University of Florida, where he is the co-director of the creative writing program. He is also the editor of Subtropics magazine, The University of Florida’s literary review. 

Leavitt, who is openly gay, has frequently explored gay issues in his work. He divides his time between Florida and Tuscany, Italy.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

I was looking for a good adventure story this week, and with luck While England Sleeps, by  David Leavitt [Bloomsbury USA; 1 edition, June 3, 2014] came into view.

The story is set in 1930s England, the years leading up to WWII, and features a young aristocrat (dilettante) named Brian Botsford, an amateur playwrite and narrator, and his opposite, Edward Phelan, an idealist and Marxist-labourer.

From this perspective, one might assume that this is a story about class—and it is to a certain extent, but it is also a story about different ideals and approaches to life.

Brian is in a word “spoiled,” with little ambition beyond floating on the surface with the largesse of an aunt. Edward, on the other hand, is self-educated and ambitious to ‘work his way up’ to a better life.

In fact, Brian is not a very likable person, an ‘anti-hero’ and purposely so. Now, from a writer’s point of view this is a risky proposition—to invite your audience to dislike your main character—but with an ounce of redemption Leavitt pulls it off quite admirably.

It all comes together when Edward makes an attempt to rescue friends from the growing storm in Europe, but to get into the part of the plot would definitely be a spoiler, and so I will leave it for the readers to discover.

One of the things I like about this story is the subtle way the author draws the reader into the tenor of the times. In spite of the fact that the dialogue tends to slip into a more modern vernacular from time to time, the reader is nonetheless persuaded that they are experiencing 1930s England or Europe, as the case may be.

Likewise, the mock prologue and epilogue add a sense of time and place, as well.

However, if you are the type that prefers a happy-ever-after ending, this might not be the story for you. Four and one-half bees.

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Viewers of Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 67,959

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 Interested in Canadian history? Want to know more? Then visit my new page:  In Praise of Canadian History.

 It is a collection of people, facts and events in Canadian history, and includes a bibliography of interesting Canadian books as well. Latest post:  James AndersonOne of Canada’s steadfast but lesser-known explorers.

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If you would like to learn more about 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.

       

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!

Thanks for dropping by! I’ll have another novel ready for next week, same URL, so drop back soon.

 

 

May 5, 2014 Posted by | Gay fiction, Gay historical fiction, Gay romance, Historical period | Leave a comment

   

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