Gerry B's Book Reviews

Vamp, by Rob Rosen

It is spritely, it is zany, and it is even over-the-top at times, but most of all it is fun.

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Click on the above cover to purchase.

Click on the above cover to purchase.

Story blurb: Fine, the coffin in the basement was a little unusual. Certainly no more so than the mansion itself, though, or, for that matter, the humpbacked manservant that came with it, or the mysterious death of its former owner. In fact, so starts a long list of all things unusual for our unlikely hero, Jack, and his newfound and strange family, his werewolf boyfriend, the pack eager to help him, and the ancient clan that wants him dead at all costs. Know this, however, in the end, this misfit group of characters will leave you howling in the crypt aisles!

About the author: Rob Rosen is the author of the critically acclaimed novels, “Sparkle: The Queerest Book You’ll Ever Love”, the Lambda Literary Award Nominated “Divas Las Vegas”, which was the winner of the 2010 TLA Gaybies for Best Gay Fiction, “Hot Lava”, “Southern Fried”, the Lambda Literary Award Nominated “Queerwolf”, “Vamp”, and “Queens of the Apocalypse”. His short stories have appeared in more than 200 anthologies. You can find 20 of them in his erotic romance anthology, “Good & Hot”. He is also the editor of “Lust in Time: Erotic Romance Through the Ages” and “Men of the Manor: Erotic Encounters between Upstairs Lords and Downstairs Lads”.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

I have frequently ruminated about the general lack of humour in GBLT novels; well, Vamp by Rob Rosen certainly turned that around – in spades!

I don’t generally read vampire stories, nor do I understand the populist love affair with them, but Rob Rosen’s take on the genre is not only appropriate (… they are fictional, after all), but hilariously funny, almost slapstick, at the same time.

Jack Jackowski is just an ordinary bloke until he receives word that he has somehow inherited a fabulous fortune from an erstwhile unknown cousin, Boris Jackowski – You just have to love these corn-ball names!

If that wasn’t odd enough for Jack, things really start to get bizarre when he goes to inspect his new inheritance. It seems he has also inherited a man servant by the name of ‘Igor’, (yes, hunchbacked too), and in the basement of the Gothic mansion are two coffins with a note from Cousin Boris informing him that he is really a vampire.

Jack accepts and after he undergoes the transition he heads outside to test his powers. It is then he detects an intriguing odour, and following it up he meets Steven; the alpha-male in a pack of werewolves. Not surprisingly, having other-worldly powers in common, they have a mating of spirts and flesh, until some spoilsport starts heaving spears at them.

No, it’s not Pat Robertson or a member if the Westboro goons, but just who it is I’ll leave to you to find out. J

About the book

This is the first of Rob Rosen’s stories I have read. He writes with an almost tongue-in-cheek style that invites the reader to come along on a fantastical journey, almost like a Hallowe’en adventure. Everyone knows it is make-believe, but at the same time it is so much fun that nobody cares. It is spritely, it is zany, and it is even over-the-top at times, but most of all it is fun. Five bees for entertainment.

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Viewers of Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 72,113

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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:  Gordon Sinclair – Journalist, Author, TV personality, and Curmudgeon Extraordinaire!

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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!

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August 25, 2014 Posted by | Fiction, Gay fiction | , | Leave a comment

The One for Me, by Hollis Shiloh

A nice, feel-good story*

(*A free dowload I believe on Amazon.com, I paid $3.11 CAD on Amazon.cca)

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hollis shiloh - coverStory blurb: Two boys bond, sharing geeky things and fast food. And falling in love.

When Luke’s parents take in a foster kid named Randall, Luke is immediately taken with him, although he doesn’t want to admit to himself why. He wasn’t planning to be gay. He wasn’t planning to fall in love with another boy. But then he met Ran….

I remember when I first met Ran. He was absolutely unprepossessing, all skinny white boy wearing his insecurities on his sleeves, which were tattered and faded on a too-big flannel shirt. He wore jeans that didn’t quite fit him, cheap tennis shoes that had once been white, and glasses that made his eyes look too big in his scrawny, pale face.

And he was holding a trash bag and standing in the middle of my bedroom looking miserable…

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Review by Gerry Burnie

I was feeling a bit lazy this week, perhaps because of the lousy weather in this part of North America, so I delved into my pile of recommended books to come up with a 76-page novella that fit the bill quite nicely. The One For Me, by Hollis Shiloh [Spare Words Press; 2 edition, July 11, 2013] is a charming, feel-good story, that is bound to please most people who just want a nice, uncomplicated story.

The story commences when Ran (Randall) arrives at Luke’s parent’s home as a ward of the foster care system. This is handled quite nicely with homey bits (macaroni and cheese, etc.), and the author wastes no time in bringing the two boys closer together by some rather clever business involving a video blog and arm-around-the-shoulder, buddy-buddy stuff.

As the story progresses we learn that Rand is a closely-guarded, closet gay, (of necessity), and Luke is just discovering his sexual preference; however, it is all handled in an angst-free way, which I believe is so in most cases.

The sex is minimal and discreetly handled, and altogether it is a charming read when you just want to relax without complications. Four bees.

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Viewers of Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 71,954

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Interested in Canadian history?of

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:  Walter “Turk” Broda – “Mr. Maple Leaf.”

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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.

August 18, 2014 Posted by | a love story, Brothers in love, Gay fiction | 2 Comments

What About Me?: The Struggle for Identity in a Market-Based Society, by Paul Verhaeghe

So, You’re a deviant? Congratulations!

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what about me - coverBlurb: According to current thinking, anyone who fails to succeed must have something wrong with them. The pressure to achieve and be happy is taking a heavy toll, resulting in a warped view of the self, disorientation, and despair. People are lonelier than ever before. Today’s pay-for-performance mentality is turning institutions such as schools, universities, and hospitals into businesses – even individuals are being made to think of themselves as one-person enterprises. Love is increasingly hard to find, and we struggle to lead meaningful lives. In “What about Me?”, Paul Verhaeghe’s main concern is how social change has led to this psychic crisis and altered the way we think about ourselves. He investigates the effects of 30 years of neoliberalism, free-market forces, privatisation, and the relationship between our engineered society and individual identity. It turns out that who we are is, as always, determined by the context in which we live. From his clinical experience as a psychotherapist, Verhaeghe shows the profound impact that social change is having on mental health, even affecting the nature of the disorders from which we suffer. But his book ends on a note of cautious optimism. Can we once again become masters of our fate?

About the author: Paul Verhaeghe (November 5, 1955) is a trained clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst. His first doctorate (1985) dealt with hysteria, his second (1992) on psychological assessment. He works as a professor at the University of Ghent. Since 2000, his main interest lies in the impact of social change on psychological and psychiatric difficulties.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

To be at peace with a troubled world is not feasible unless one disavows almost everything that surrounds us. However, to be at peace with yourself within a troubled world, while not easy, can be achieved through self-reliance. That is the basic analysis put forward by psychologist and psychoanalyst Paul Verhaeghe, in What About Me?: The Struggle for Identity in a Market-Based Society [Scribe Publications, August, 2014].

Being social animals, our personalities are unavoidably shaped by the norms and values of the society to which we subscribe. Moreover, the dominant values of that society are almost always shaped by the leading players – i.e. the resident elites: economic, political, and cultural.

Today, in western societies in particularly, the predominant value is market fundamentalism, a.k.a. ‘neoliberalism.’ The tenets of which teach that the marketplace can solve almost all the ills of society, social, economic and political, so long as it is not burdened by government regulations and taxes. Moreover, anyone who disagrees with this precept risks being labeled a “socialist” (a word that is bantered around even by those who don’t understand the meaning of the term) or “deviant.”

Verhaeghe points out that neoliberalism draws on Ancient Greek – more recently Hobbsian – idea that man is inherently selfish and grasping in nature, but neoliberalists are quite content with these shortcomings. In fact, they encourage them on the basis that unrestricted competition and self-interest foster innovation and economic growth.

The reality, of course, is something different. The playing field is far from even, and more often than not innovation is discouraged, and economic growth is achieved through mergers and acquisitions (takeovers), resulting in the monopolization of available resources.

All this is ignored by the major players in the market economy (including law makers, governments and bureaucrats). These elites continue to ascribe success and failure to the individual; the rich are the paragons, and the poor are the social parasites.

To assure these new deviants don’t get more than they deserve, the neoliberalist workplace has become a centre for assessments, monitoring, surveillance and audits designed to reward the winners and punish the losers.

Likewise, the unemployed contend with a whole new level of monitoring and snooping.

It must be said, as well, that the majority of major political parties either ascribe to these methods, or look the other way from them, and so in the cause of autonomy we have become controlled by a nit-picking, faceless bureaucracy.

To put all this into a psychoanalytic context, Verhaeghe writes that these outcomes have resulted in a significant increase in certain psychiatric conditions, including eating disorders, depression and personality disorders.

Associated with the latter, the most common are performance anxiety, social phobias, depression and loneliness.

Therefore, if you feel at odds with the world, or that you somehow don’t fit in, congratulations: You’re still human!

About the book

Admittedly, this is not a book for everyone, but it is surprisingly easy to read. Verhaegue writes with a journalistic (as apposed to academic) style, and his examples and anecdotes are ones to which the reader can easily relate.

However, the biggest benefit is Verhaegue’s insight and clarity in ‘psychoanalyzing’ an undoubtedly screwed-up world. He may not have all the answers, but he nonetheless prompts us to examine the questions. Five bees.

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Viewers of Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 71,772

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Interested in Canadian history?of

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:  Joseph Howe (1804 – 1873) – Nova Scotian par excellence, and Champion of freedom of press in Canada.

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Visit my other blog, too: “Stop the Bull!”

Its a lively commentary on whatever happens to be current. Here’s an example:

Click on this cartoon to go to the blog.

Click on this cartoon to go to the blog.

 

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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.

 

August 11, 2014 Posted by | Academic study, non GBLT, Non-fiction | | Leave a comment

The Way of Men, by Jack Donovan

The difference between a ‘good’ man, and good at being a ‘man.’

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Click on thr cover to purchase

Click on thr cover to purchase

Blurb: The so-called experts give the answers that suit their masters. They tell just-so stories to protect their ideology, their religion, their way of life. They look to women for a nod of approval before speaking. They give socially acceptable answers and half-truths.

If what they have to say resonates with men, it is only because they manage to hint at the real answer.

The real answer is that The Way of Men is The Way of The Gang.

Manliness — being good at being a man — isn’t about impressing women. That’s a side effect of manliness.

Manliness isn’t about being a good man. There are plenty of bad guys – real jerks –who are manlier than you are, and you know it.

Manliness is about demonstrating to other men that you have what it takes to survive tough times.

Manliness is about our primal nature. It’s about what men have always needed from each other if they wanted to win struggles against nature, and against other men.

The Way of Men describes the four tactical virtues of the survival gang.

The Way of Men explains what men want, and why they are rapidly disengaging from our child-proofed modern world.

The Way of Men examines the alternatives, and sketches a path out of our “bonobo masturbation society” through a new Dark Age.

About the author: Jack Donovan is an American author known for his writing on masculinity and for his criticisms of feminism and gay culture.

Donovan is currently a contributor to AlternativeRight.com, Counter-Currents, and anti-feminist, men’s rights blog The Spearhead.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

When I first saw the title The Way of Men, by Jack Donovan [Dissonant Hum, April 10, 2012], I thought, “Oh dear … This is a mine field if ever I saw one,” for a topic like this can either be a rehashing of grievances against feminists, or brilliantly insightful, or someplace in between. In this case it’s a bit of all three.

Donovan’s thesis proposes that there is a (gaping) difference between being a ‘man’ and being a ‘masculine man,’ i.e. “A man who is more concerned with being a good man than being good at being a man makes a very well behaved slave.”

As a paradigm he goes back to the roots of masculine culture, whereby men travelled in well-defined cohorts for friendship, protection, and hunting, and although these proclivities have been discouraged in favour of domestication and gender-blurring, some traces still survive.

The bottom line is that innate gender differences do exist, have existed, and in spite of unprecedented and frequently insidious emasculation and feminization, will always exist.

The wider state does not escape Donovan’s looking glass, either. For, apart from times of war, it has a stake in maintaining the “well behaved slave.” Bonobo men are not inclined to fit comfortably into ‘le system’ or to give socially acceptable answers and half-truths, and so they are shunned as renegades and/or shit-disturbers.

If any of this rings a bell with you, you might want to grab a copy of Jack Donovan’s thought-provoking dissertation. Four bees.

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Viewers of Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 71,580

♠♠♠

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:  CC1 and CC2 — British Columbia’s Submarine Fleet.

♠♠♠

Visit my other blog, too: “Stop the Bull!”

Its a lively commentary on whatever happens to be current. Here’s an example:

Click on this cartoon to go to the blog.

Click on this cartoon to go to the blog.

♠♠♠

logo - gerry burnie books - couple

       

 

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.

August 4, 2014 Posted by | Academic study, Non-fiction, non-GLBT | | Leave a comment

   

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