Gerry B's Book Reviews

To Touch the Sky (Leap of Faith #2) by M.A. Church

An M/M romance with a Native American twist…

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He can run, but he can’t hide…

click on cover to order

click on cover to order

Centuries ago, Hawk made a terrible mistake which has haunted him since. Fear of responsibility and feelings of unworthiness leads him to denying the mate Wha-tay showed him in a vision. So now Hawk runs his bar, has casual sex, and never, ever dates men with blond hair and brown eyes. But then Simon walks into his bar, and the future he’s feared is about to end up in a brawl if Hawk doesn’t do something—fast.

Simon Carter has a smart mouth and a bulldog temperament. So when Hawk runs, Simon pursues the sexy man, only to be rejected. Just as Simon decides to give up, someone—or something—visits him to change his mind… and scares him to death. Now Simon is backpedaling, and Hawk is in pursuit.

Desperate to reassure Simon and keep him safe, Hawk is forced to reveal his secrets before he’s ready. Can Simon learn to accept things aren’t always as they seem? Is the connection between them strong enough to help Hawk overcome centuries of pain? The only way the two men will move beyond Hawk’s past is for both of them to take a leap of faith.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

I am always intrigued by Native American stories, particularly if they include some of the fascinating mythology that has been handed down for centuries. To Touch the Sky (Leap of Faith #2) by M.A. Church is one such a story.

The story opens in a time before the Europeans came to the land, and so the old ways prevailed. Hawk, or Chetan as he was called, was a hawk shifter – meaning he could transform himself into a hawk at will. However, he was also human, and that is where things went wrong when he spurned his mate Wha-tay, a blonde-haired, brown-eyed beauty.

Through the centuries Hawk has had time to regret his weakness, and so he has adopted a set of self-punishing standards that include not dating a blonde haired man with brown eyes.

That is … Until blonde-haired, brown-eyed Simon walked into his bar and his life. Simon is somewhat the opposite of Hawk inasmuch as he is a free spirit (few rules) and rejects the idea of being dominated.

Nonetheless, they gradually form a bond: First, by sharing men’s pursuits, and then by sex.

It is a gentle story with very little angst, and it moves along at a quiet pace. I would have liked to see more mythology – particularly as it applied to Hawk’s shifter abilities and his shifter clan – but that sort of thing may have in the author’s previous book. Four bees.

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May 18, 2015 Posted by | a love story, Gay fiction, Gay Native American | Leave a comment

Native: A Novel, by William Haywood Henderson

A coming out and coming of age in a ruggedly contemporary, Western setting, with ancient berdache undertones.

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Click pn the above cover to purchase.

Click pn the above cover to purchase.

Story Blurb: Four years before Annie Proulx’s story “Brokeback Mountain” appeared in the New Yorker, William Haywood Henderson published Native, the tale of three gay men ensnared in the politics and prejudices of an isolated ranching town in Wyoming’s Wind River Valley. Blue Parker, a careful twenty-three-year-old ranch foreman, in love with the West and his home in the mountains, finds himself drawn to his new ranch hand, Sam. For the first time in his life, Blue feels the possibility of a romantic connection, and he makes tentative plans to secret himself and Sam away in an idyllic camp high in the mountains. But the arrival in town of Gilbert, a Native American from the Wind River Indian Reservation, a man who fancies himself a modern-day berdache (or Two-Spirit), pushes Blue and Sam in unexpected, dangerous directions. Gilbert attempts to recreate the ancient traditions of his people, but the world has changed. Ultimately, Gilbert must try to find a new place for himself in society, and Blue must choose between his home and protecting the man he loves.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

When you read as many GBLT books as I do, you begin to notice a similarity that runs from one book to another. It is almost as though there was some sort of ‘Harlequin Romance’ formula being followed. So, when a slightly different story pops up, even though some of the elements have been explored before, I generally go for it. Such is the case with Native: A Novel, by William Haywood Henderso [Bison Books; First Paperback Printing edition, May 1, 2010]

Blue Parker is the surprisingly young foreman of a Wyoming ranch, and gay, and as such he is infatuated with Sam—a boyishly handsome hired hand. Blue has plans to assign Sam to a line-camp high up in the mountains; a veritable Eden where they will be able to meet in seclusion and relative safety.

Enter Gilbert, a two-spirit ‘berdache’ who possesses special powers, and who goads Sam into a raunchy Apache-type dance at the small town’s honky-tonk bar.

Blue is embarrassed and confused, and so he stomps out, leaving Sam to the mercy of the red neck cowhands. Consequently, Sam is severely beaten for his naïveté, but now, moved by love and compassion, Blue moves him into his own Cabin. This has its own falling-dominos-effect as the story winds down to an uncertain climax.

As I mentioned, previously, this story has an interesting and somewhat unique theme to it—a coming out and coming of age in a ruggedly contemporary, Western setting, with ancient berdache overtones. That’s good.

It is also written in a lyrical style, with much time given to painting a word picture of the breathtaking Wyoming landscape. That’s good, too.

However, it presents its own challenges as well. In many way it reads like a stage coach ride as it lurches along, often with the driver meandering on and off the trail. Indeed, it boldly goes where every novelist is cautioned not to tread. In other words, it changes points of view from one character to another, not only flashes backward, but also forward and to the present as well. Still, there are twists and passages that are brilliant in both concept and delivery.

I’m going to give it three bees, and beyond that you can decide for yourself.

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Interested in Canadian history?

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July 21, 2014 Posted by | Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay Native American, Gay romance, Gay western, M/M love and adventure | Leave a comment

Gives Light (Gives Light #1), by Rose Christo

“Sweet.” “Inspirational,” “Heart-warming,” “Thoroughly enjoyable” –

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gives light - coverStory blurb: Sixteen-year-old Skylar is witty, empathetic, sensitive–and mute. Skylar hasn’t uttered a single word since his mother died eleven years ago, a senseless tragedy he’s grateful he doesn’t have to talk about.

When Skylar’s father mysteriously vanishes one summer afternoon, Skylar is placed in the temporary custody of his only remaining relative, an estranged grandmother living on an Indian reservation in the middle of arid Arizona.

Adapting to a brand new culture is the least of Skylar’s qualms. Because Skylar’s mother did not die a peaceful death. Skylar’s mother was murdered eleven years ago on the Nettlebush Reserve. And her murderer left behind a son.

And he is like nothing Skylar has ever known.

Available in e-book format – 372 KB

About the author: “I am Plains Cree and Lenni Lenape. My best friend is Shoshone-Bannock. I mostly blog about the crap going on in Indian Country today. We may not be on your local news network, but trust me, there’s a LOT going on in Indian Country today. Some of which you’d probably be shocked to learn.

My grandpa was Saline Shoshone. He was the coolest old guy you’d ever meet. That’s probably why the kids in Gives Light are all Shoshone, too.

Few things bother me more than racism. If somebody tells you “Please stop mocking / stereotyping / inaccurately portraying my culture, it really hurts my feelings,” but you’re more concerned about your freedom of expression, then guess what? You’re a racist.

Right now I am writing a story called The Place Where They Cried. After this I’m going to write another contemporary YA story. No title yet but I’ve got the outline.

Munito sakehewawinewe—“God is Love.”

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Review by Gerry Burnie

I am always on the lookout for unique stories,  or at least stories that have a unique aspect to them, so when I read the intriguing blurb to Gives Light (Gives Light Series#1)  by Rose Christo [self-published by Rose Christo, July 2012], I knew I was onto something quite unique.

Gives Light is the first of a trilogy by that name, and although I haven’t read the other two editions, I think it might be best to start the series with this particular volume. It is described as containing 353 pages (estimated) but when the spaces are deducted—between the block-style paragraphs—it is probably half that number.

If a story can be summed up in one word, then the word that applies to this story is “sweet.” There is not a lot of tension or angst, and even the sexual content is limited to kissing and a bit of petting, so unless the standard is particularly puritanical it would be quite appropriate for young adults.

The story is told from the point of view of Skylar St. Clair, a 16 y.o. Shoshone Native who has been mute since his throat was slashed during the murder of his mother some five years previous. From that time he had been living with his father until his father mysteriously disappears as well.

He is then put into the custody of his estranged grandmother who resides on the Nettlebush Reserve, and from then on it is the story of adjusting to reservation life; including learning the traditions, and getting to know its cast of characters.

For the most part these are all quite charming, typical teenagers, who readily welcome Skylar into their midst; all except for the enigmatic Rafael, son of murderer who slay Skylar’s mother.  Yet, the two of them are gradually drawn together by both their commonalities and differences, and when they do finally unite it is like a blossom that blooms in the shadow of the forest; pure and fragile.

I found very few quibbles to mention: The writing is strong; the characters engaging; and both the plot and pace kept me involved. However, there were a few minor disparities that left me wondering. For example, it was never really explained how Annie Little Hawk learned to sign. ASL training is not universally available, and I would think less so on a remote reservation. Moreover, I occasionally thought Skylar’s language was a bit sophisticated for his background. One phrase that comes to mind is, “…Regardless of his administrations.” Grammatically it is quite correct, but not the sort of language a 16 y.o. would be likely to use.

I have already used the term “sweet,’ and now I’ll also add the terms “inspirational,” “heart-warming,” and “thoroughly enjoyable.” Four and one-half bees.

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February 18, 2013 Posted by | Coming out, Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay Native American, Gay romance | 2 Comments

   

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