Gerry B's Book Reviews

Thunderhead, Book One: Tales of Love, Honor, and Vengeance in the Historic American West by B A Braxton

A captivating read in the classic western style.

clip_image002.jpg

 

click on cover to order.

click on cover to order.

Story blurb: The American West, especially between 1865 and the turn of the century, was an unforgiving and brutal place to be. Tempers flared as men continued to fight the Civil War on their own terms long after it had been decided. Meanwhile, natives, such as the Lakota Sioux, continued to resist being dispelled from their homelands. The Thunderhead trilogy is a historically accurate approach to the western genre. It is mixed with real and imaginary characters and takes place in the Dakota and Wyoming Territories between 1876 and 1877. Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane, Jack McCall, Colorado Charlie Utter, California Joe Milner, Tim Brady, Wyatt Earp, and other figures are alive and well amid three fictional protagonists. Al Franklin, a photograph artist, befriends Hickok during his last days. “Spittoon” Nicky, a sporting girl, falls for an outlaw and follows him and his cohorts from mining town to mining town. Harvey McCafferty, a bounty hunter, relentlessly endeavors to collect the reward on those traveling with Nicky. Nicky’s companions are a gang of road agents lead by the bloodthirsty Quick Maggie DeMarco, a formerly-abused young woman hellbent on finding and killing the man who murdered her family fourteen years ago. When Maggie DeMarco finally meets up with Maguire in Book Three, will she seek the revenge that has eluded her, or will she be content to walk away?

logo-gbbr_thumb.jpg

Review by Gerry Burnie

I received a call to review this book sometime ago, but regretfully it is only now that I have had a chance to read it. I say ‘regretfully’ because Thunderhead, Book One: Tales of Love, Honor, and Vengeance in the Historic American West by B A Braxton is such rich and luscious reading that I am surprised it hasn’t attracted more attention.

The story is an amalgam of fiction and history, with a slight bias toward history – especially the three primary characters: Al Franklin, a photograph artist, “Spittoon” Nicky, a sporting girl, and Harvey M. McCafferty, a bounty hunter.

What jumps out at you right from the beginning is the due research Ms Braxtion has compiled behind the scenes. It is evident in every character, and frequently in the background scenes as well. This may have intimidated others, but it is very much my cup of tea.

Al Franklin is a hard-working 20-year-old who has made his way from Boston to Deadwood, South Dakota, during the summer of 1876. Al is a talented ambrotype photographer, and is met with all types people, outlaws as well, eager to have their likenesses taken. When Wild Bill Hickok comes to town at the same time as Calamity Jane and Colorado Charlie Utter, Al devises a money-making scheme with Bill to put his picture on cabinet cards to sell to the eager citizens in town. Because of Wild Bill’s reputation as a shootist, a law officer, and one of the stars of Buffalo Bill Cody’s show, the cabinet cards sell very well. And thus a friendship is established between them during Wild Bill’s final days.

“Spittoon” Nicky is a sporting girl who plies her trade out of a saloon called Hootie’s Lager House. Nicky meets up with an outlaw named Chad DeMarco and they fall in love. However, when things get too dangerous for him in Deadwood, Chad asks Nicky to travel with him and his cohorts so they can stay together. The most brutal and bloodthirsty of Chad’s companions is his sister Maggie who seems to live just to find the man who murdered her mother and father when she was very young.

Harvey McCafferty is a former Confederate soldier, now a bounty hunter, whose driving force in life is to get rich as quick. He therefor sets his sights on tracking down the DeMarco gang for the considerable bounty on their heads: Chad, Luke, Ray, and Otto, and in Harvey’s mind, dead or alive usually means dead.

Written in a colourful vernacular that matches the rustic time and setting, it is an enthralling story in the classic western style. Four and a half bees.

♠♠♠

Viewers to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 78,678

♠♠♠

Interested in Canadian history?

Want to learn 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 ba ibliography of interesting Canadian books as well. Latest post: Keish (“Kaysh”): “Skookum Jim” Mason: co-discoverer of the Klondike gold. 

 

 

June 23, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Maurice, by E.M. Forster

A timeless classic.

bee5

 

 

Click on cover to order.

Click on cover to order.

Set in the elegant Edwardian world of Cambridge undergraduate life, this story by a master novelist introduces us to Maurice Hall when he is fourteen. We follow him through public school and Cambridge, and on into his father’s firm, Hill and Hall, Stock Brokers. In a highly structured society, Maurice is a conventional young man in almost every way, “stepping into the niche that England had prepared for him”: except that his is homosexual.

Written during 1913 and 1914, after an interlude of writer’s block following the publication of Howards End, and not published until 1971, Maurice was ahead of its time in its theme and in its affirmation that love between men can be happy. “Happiness,” Forster wrote, “is its keynote….In Maurice I tried to create a character who was completely unlike myself or what I supposed myself to be: someone handsome, healthy, bodily attractive, mentally torpid, not a bad businessman and rather a snob. Into this mixture I dropped an ingredient that puzzles him, wakes him up, torments him and finally saves him.”

logo-gbbr_thumb.jpg

Review by Gerry Burnie

I chose this timeless classic to emphasize that a story does not lose its enjoyment factor with old age. Moreover, it does not lose its genuine respect or literary value because it deals with adolescent youth; at least to start.

Maurice, by E.M. Forster [W. W. Norton & Company, 2005 (first published 1971)] has been reviewed from every angle imaginable, and yet one can still find interesting things to say about it: The adherence to time and place (Edwardian England), the depth of the characters, the subtle genius of the plot, and the smoothness of line and phrase. It is all there like a textbook for the young –or old- author to follow.

Regarding the time and place, it is very Edwardian: Stolid, staid, regimented, and a bit pompous – A place for everyone, and everyone in their place.

This describes Maurice as well. He’s conservative, a bit of a snob, not very interested in the muses and rather dull. Indeed, he’s ‘every man’ except that he’s living with a secret that affects his entire life. And the story is how he deals with it in his secretive relationship with his Cambridge friend Clive Durham.

That relationship stalls at intimacy – a wall that says “no further.” Instead, Clive chooses a ‘respectable’ marriage – albeit, somewhat loveless – leaving Maurice even more confused regarding the secret he harbours inside him.

It is perhaps for this reason that he finds himself in the arms of Scudder, the gamekeeper. A crossing of social class lines, for certain, but Scudder’s simple acceptance of his homosexuality is a revelation to Maurice – one he needs to experience – but before he can reach that point he goes through a personal hell, looking at his sexual orientation as an abomination, a disease that has no cure. This would be all quite normal for the day and age, including the angst of class difference, but Forester ingeniously works the plot around to achieve a happy ending.

This was a book written well before its time. The style of English is so refreshing: A style and mastery that has been long since forgotten. It flows and melts coming from an era where every word was carefully picked and every sentence construction built with precision.

There are, of course, no explicit sex scenes, but the artistry of words more than makes up for it. Highly recommended: Five bees.

♠♠♠

Viewers to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 78,507

♠♠♠

Interested in Canadian history?

Want to learn 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: Keish (“Kaysh”): “Skookum Jim” Mason: co-discoverer of the Klondike gold. 

Click on the logo to learn about my books to datre

Click on the logo to learn about my books to datre

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.

 

 

June 8, 2015 Posted by | a love story, Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay Literature | Leave a comment

Finding Our Way (Finding Our Way #1) by Jayson James

 

A heart warming story of friends to lovers.

bee4.jpg

 

 

Click on the cover to order.

Click on the cover to order.

Justin Parker and Derrick Wilson have been best friends since meeting back in middle school. Currently they are in their junior year at Chandler High School, and living the good life as teenagers. They have great girlfriends, plenty of close friends, their own cars, and parents who are well off. As nice as things might look to an outsider, something is missing from each of their lives.
Justin has become the invisible son in the midst of his parents failing marriage. In an effort to get his parent’s attention, Justin keeps getting into trouble. So far he has been able to get away with anything without facing any repercussions, while Derrick is feeling distant and tired of what he feels is a too “perfect family”. He just wants to have a normal social life and spend time with his friends without the pressures from his family to spend time with them. With blurring the lines of friendship in the process to realizing what was missing and discovering who they really are.

Justin and Derrick take turns narrating the story of their junior year in high school and all of the events that take place in their lives. Being a teenager can be tough. Being gay can be tougher. For Derrick and Justin they are both, and life cannot get any more complicated.

What happens when two best friends cross the boundaries of friendship? Will they be able to be happy together? Will they keep their secret?

logo-gbbr_thumb.jpg

Review by Gerry Burnie

Ah, the sweet adventures of youth.

That about sums up –in a positive way – Jayson James’ debut novel, Finding Our Way (Finding Our Way #1) [Published February 25th 2013 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform].

There is little in the way of uniqueness about the plot – the theme of burgeoning love has been worked and reworked from every imaginable angle; however, it is James’ ability to capture the wonderment of it, as seen from the perspective of two boys, that makes it appealing.

The devices he uses are quite effective: A tentative, step-by-step-pace; shifting narrative voices; and the ultimate realization of what they have created, all work to keep the plot credible. I also liked the way he muted the angst to a believable level.

From a personal perspective, I liked the scene where they made out in the back seat of a car: Many happy memories there.

There are a few editing problems, but nothing major. Four stars.

♠♠♠

Viewers to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 78,417

♠♠♠

Interested in Canadian history?

Want to learn 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: Keish (“Kaysh”): “Skookum Jim” Mason: co-discoverer of the Klondike gold. 

Click on the logo to learn about my books to datre

Click on the logo to learn about my books to datre

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.

 

June 1, 2015 Posted by | a love story, Gay fiction, Young adult | Leave a comment

   

%d bloggers like this: