Overall: If you're like me, you see "Independently published" and your nose wrinkles. But you also can't deny a free read, so you click and start readiOverall: If you're like me, you see "Independently published" and your nose wrinkles. But you also can't deny a free read, so you click and start reading. And you're amazed. I was amazed. The copy is clean, the story is superb, the writing is excellent and the emotional pull is strong. The overall story involves a Master-Slave relationship, but doesn't really do too much BDSM except for the "obey me" bit. The basic concept (slave falling for his master) isn't unique, but the way in which the author approaches it is. VERY enjoyable. (Warning: Sexual partners are not hard and fast in this story, but the characters aren't "slutty," they just have a different concept of loyalty.)
Overall: A continuation of the Slave Breakers series, we are introduced to strong-willed, quick thinking Jesse. He joins the household temporarily, butOverall: A continuation of the Slave Breakers series, we are introduced to strong-willed, quick thinking Jesse. He joins the household temporarily, but leaves a lasting impression. He's smart enough to challenge Holden and he watches everyone, trying to understand them with his extremely curious, and nosy, nature.
Overall Very enjoyable. Once again this is a free read (you can find it via the link above). Although it is an LJ published story, there was promise ofOverall Very enjoyable. Once again this is a free read (you can find it via the link above). Although it is an LJ published story, there was promise of a PDF--which I couldn't find. However, I just copy and pasted the story into a word doc, then had amazon convert it for me, so I could read on my eReader. I tend to have lower expectations for free reads, because they tend to have minimal editing and no limit of what horrors can be posted.
However, once again I was delighted to find a well-written, well-edited story with a good mix of plot, romance, and humor. We follow the adventures of Flit and Talon, a sparrow and griffin shapeshifter, who accidentally meet. Talon is a bully, Flit has a penchant for fixing birds and sees Talon as a bird who needs fixing. He forces his company upon Talon, and comedy (and excitement) ensues.
Strengths Writing is really what made this story work. The mix of sensitive subjects, heartbreak, humor and action only function because the author strings them together effortlessly. What starts as an almost comedy develops into something more, then transforms once again into a third incarnation that holds its own. Exploring all these different elements like the author did helped the story work and not become cliche, which was a real possibility.
Along these same lines, the author was good at developing small instances to remind the reader that these were not just humans that live among the clouds. They do pretty much have everything we do, which kept the author from having to create her own world, but there are little word choices that are cute and birdy (eg, poppypeacock, birdfriend [instead of boyfriend], finchtoast).
Although Talon is a bit of a grump in the beginning, Flit is a lovely little bird who is small and tough. There are a variety of side characters who make an appearance, most, amusingly, just being named after their bird-type (Robin, Finch Finchly). They work to keep the story going and break up the alone time that our two main characters have with one another.
Weaknesses Not so much a weakness as a warning: There is violence/abuse in this story, and it follows a Beauty & the Beast motif. If this is unacceptable, then you will not enjoy this book! Flit enjoys a dominating man, which has previously landed him with abusive birdfriends, and in combination with his need to fix things, gets him into trouble (NOT that he warrants some of the things that happen to him). Talon has a temper, is aggressive and things nothing of smacking someone around. The combination leads to what could very easily be seen as an abusive relationship. I forgive it for two main reasons: 1. Flit isn't being kept there by Talon. In fact, he holds the power in the relationship via tail feather (aka, blackmail). 2. Talon is a brute, yes, but he doesn't really mean to be abusive (which sounds like denial/excusing, I know), and once things are pointed out to him, his behavior changes for the better (well, at least in Flit's case).
Overall Normally with an anthology I like to break down the individual stories, but there are too many to do that here, plus I read them over a long peOverall Normally with an anthology I like to break down the individual stories, but there are too many to do that here, plus I read them over a long period of time (6 months). A good chunk of these stories (if not a majority) are written by well-known authors in the genre, so unlike some other free anthologies (assuming there are some, somewhere, aside from Wishing on a Blue Star), the majority of these stories are well written, well edited and overall very enjoyable. Aside from a general Winter Holiday theme, the stories don't have much in common--they really run the gamut--so everyone can find at least one story that they really enjoy.
Strengths FREE! It's free, it's long and it's various authors, many who are published (aka, competent writers). Overall it is a very enjoyable set of stories, most of which have happy Christmas story endings. This is what they're meant to be and they fulfill that role perfectly.
Weaknesses Being a free work compiled by a large number of authors, the writing quality varies between the stories. For the most part this isn't a problem, but for a few it was more noticeable and is the greatest weakness of those stories. Along these same lines, the topics, which vary greatly, won't appeal to every reader, but it's easy to skip any story that isn't to taste.
Overall There is no way to rank this book, to judge it, to compare it to anything else. There are stories, some of them funny, some of them heart breakOverall There is no way to rank this book, to judge it, to compare it to anything else. There are stories, some of them funny, some of them heart breaking (I'm looking at you Amy Lane). Between the stories (or perhaps the stories are in between) are blog posts following Patric Michael's experiences dealing with cancer and everything that goes with it.
This is a longer book as far as books in this genre go, and it took me a while to get through, one because I struggle with anthologies anyway, two because there are alot of heavy topics on this books and three, I'll be honest, I was reading alot of books at the time. I'm glad I continued through and finished it though. I'll be honest, I cried the last half an hour of reading.
Because my normal review style isn't appropriate, I'll be looking at the blog and the anthology separately.
Blog Patric is a talented author and wrote some very lovely blog entries which illustrated his struggles, as well as some other entries that he wrote during that time that lightened the mood. Some of them were very difficult to read and some of them hit me over the head and told me to wake up and live your life. Sometimes they were one in the same. Sometimes they were sad, even if that wasn't their purpose. I'm glad they were shuffled in with stories because I couldn't have just read the blog straight through without going a little crazy from empathic stress!
Patric chose to print the blogs as they originally ran, so no editing was done, which made me twitch sometimes, but knowing about it ahead of time saved me from being growl-y. I don't know Patric, and I've only read one of his stories, but I have a strange (and false) sense of knowing him. Maybe it's more just knowing myself more now. I don't know, and I don't know if I'll ever have a chance to figure out which it was.
Anthology As anthologies go, this was fairly strong. Some were hit, some were misses, but nothing terrible. "When Angels Fall" by ZA Maxfield and "Dreams of a Terrible Brightness" by Amy Lane were two of my favorites. I'm fairly certain there were others I enjoyed as I went, but those two jumped out the most to me. "When Angels Fall" was the happy ending I needed and "Dreams of a Terrible Brightness" (the one I wept over) was the horrible honest I needed.
This is a free book. Maybe it will help you understand others going through similar experiences. Maybe it will help you in your own struggles. Maybe it will just make you pause and consider all the wonderful things you have in life without heavily guilting you into it. I recommend everyone take the time to check this out.
Overall A cute little (free) story that involves a young man who stutters and has a crush on his (straight) boss. Although the plot line may not be anyOverall A cute little (free) story that involves a young man who stutters and has a crush on his (straight) boss. Although the plot line may not be anything new, I really liked Sam and the author's use of stuttering to show Sam's emotional status. Both the characters are highly enjoyable and the interaction between the two is heart warming. A good stand alone story that may fall into a lot of tropes but the story's enjoyment overpowers any of that. Definitely worth a read, especially if you want an upper.
Jayden has a crappy life with an abusive father, he was sexually abused in the past, and he's poor. The majority of this story is not happy, and couldJayden has a crappy life with an abusive father, he was sexually abused in the past, and he's poor. The majority of this story is not happy, and could be put into the camp of "everything bad that could happen, happens to him." If that's not your type of story, this probably isn't for you. The first person narrator curses (a lot) and has plenty of issues that get worked through as the story progresses, mostly through the introduction of Jayden's new neighbor Seaton. Seaton is a mystery to Jayden, and although he avoids people, he finds himself both terrified and drawn to his neighbor.
The writing is good, if not a little raw, and the story's strengths lie mostly in the narrator's voice and the intensity of the emotions. The pacing and progression of character development, both for Jayden and Seaton, is excellent as neither seems rushed nor slow as all their secrets are revealed.
Because of both their issues (mainly Jayden's), there is never any sex between them, although they do both like each other and I would mark this as a happy ever after type ending.
While this is a book that I would have loved to see go on for longer, I'm also glad it stopped when it did, one because the author didn't feel any more story was left to tell, and two because the problems are all resolved and continuing would just have been to wait out when sex scenes could happen.
It's a rather dark story, but it made me laugh and ache and made my insides squirm.
There are a few events that might not factually match up to reality, but if you're willing to forgive a few of those (and I'm not sure on most of them), it'll be fine (such as laws, the justice system, etc). There are a fair number of typos, but not enough to dig under the skin, and a reasonable amount considering the length
Recommended for: People who like angsty stories with main characters who suffer needlessly....more
Overall Of the three main stories (Bran's, Jesse's and Lee's), I had the most difficulty getting through this one. It had nothing to do with the writinOverall Of the three main stories (Bran's, Jesse's and Lee's), I had the most difficulty getting through this one. It had nothing to do with the writing (it was just as strong), or the story (lots going on), or the characters (still love them all), but nonetheless, I struggled about half-way through. Part of me, I think, was afraid that I wasn't going to get a happy ending, but even after I was assured on that front (and I really shouldn't have worried), I had to force myself to finish reading it. I mention this only because I read the first half of the story several months ago and then finished the book.
Strengths Writing. Characters. Story. All the things that made the previous stories great continue to shine in this one. The writing is strong and consistent, the characters come alive and we see more variation in their behaviors/likes/dislikes than previously, and instead of rehashing the same old "rescued kid" story, which I loved and love still, the author takes that to a new level and makes it more and by doing so makes all the characters become more than they were before as well.
Plot/resolution. I won't say anything to spoil, but I'm pleased with how things turned out. There is a happy ending, but it's not too perfect, either. Very fitting.
Overall, I love these stories and the writing. Highly enjoyable and free, what more can you ask for?
Weaknesses While I'm not sure if this was any longer than the others, it felt longer, possibly because it combined two story lines in one. This one gets more political/social, which isn't a bad thing, but it does disrupt the relationship dynamics some only because it takes time away from just plain enjoying them.
Overall I don't remember the first time I read For All Waters, but I know I've read it many, many times since.
At first glance it doesn't seem to be myOverall I don't remember the first time I read For All Waters, but I know I've read it many, many times since.
At first glance it doesn't seem to be my kind of story: A college man, who doesn't have a boyfriend, just a friend with benefits, goes to visit his sister over summer holiday. Sebastian is a pretty boy who knows it and isn't really ready to settle down. He isn't a player or a slut--he's just enjoying life, which makes him more enjoyable (to me). Then he meets Antonio, who is gorgeous, interested, and...married. And is his sister's (and her husband's) friend. The couples, and their children, hang out all summer, and it doesn't take long for Sebastian and Antonio to fall in to bed together.
Adultery crawls under my skin, but Antonio is somewhat on the level: His wife knows he's gay and they have a platonic relationship in order to raise their son in an unbroken home. However, neither of them have had an affair, since they are both married. At least, until now.
You can see where the problems begin for our two leading men as they struggle with themselves and society, their age difference, and their life differences.
The writing, overall very strong, has moments when it is downright moving, in happiness, in sadness, and sometimes just the ache of "that's how life is." The style is often beautiful, offering just the right amount of description to paint the image of the people and the surroundings without bogging down the chapters trying to explain a place most people haven't been.
I love the story. Yes, it breaks my heart at times, but for me it's worth it. Again and again. Sebastian is smart and jaded, while Antonio is warm, kind, and never wants to hurt anyone (and by trying not to, hurts many). The supporting cast all play their roles to perfection, whether they are the sweet shadow of a wife or the jubulent nephew, carrying Sebastian through the summer and beyond.
I don't want to spout too many wonderful things for fear it will make the experience less wonderful, but I enjoy this story enough that I've sat on my butt for many hours reading it online (repeated times) and finally copy and pasted it into a document for my kindle.
Recommended for everyone, but especially people who like age gaps in their romances, challenges to overcome, sex, humor, and beautiful story telling....more
This is a beautifully written piece that follows the struggles of two men during the Great Depression and the hope that can be found in the most despeThis is a beautifully written piece that follows the struggles of two men during the Great Depression and the hope that can be found in the most desperate of times. I don't have a single thing to mark off against this story. It was moving and well written, and I loved the characters, but it didn't make me feel like I was shorted (as many short stories do). It ended when it needed to. It painted the time period, surroundings, and characters superbly, giving enough to let the reader see without cluttering the pages. ...more
Wow. Just, wow. That was an amazing story that had me from the get-go, and it was a wonderfully unique way of telling it. I was as anxious as MichaelWow. Just, wow. That was an amazing story that had me from the get-go, and it was a wonderfully unique way of telling it. I was as anxious as Michael was while he read the journal entries, and I wanted to skip to the end, to make sure everything turned out like I expected, but I suffered right alongside our narrator as everything was revealed. A magnificent story! Thank you for writing this for us!...more
A sweet story that, even with a slightly open-ended conclusion, leaves the reader feeling hopeful, not just for Gale's love life, but for his whole liA sweet story that, even with a slightly open-ended conclusion, leaves the reader feeling hopeful, not just for Gale's love life, but for his whole life. ...more
A gory romance that doesn't get too overwhelming in gore or horror. It's well written and disturbingly sweet, although I was a little confused over whA gory romance that doesn't get too overwhelming in gore or horror. It's well written and disturbingly sweet, although I was a little confused over whether this was really a "second chance" if it's not the first time it's happened. Unless every time is a second chance. ...more
This is gloriously funny and cute as the big, tough crime fighter shows his softer side and becomes a blubbering idiot. Good for Batman fans (with a tThis is gloriously funny and cute as the big, tough crime fighter shows his softer side and becomes a blubbering idiot. Good for Batman fans (with a twist from the original) and those who know nothing of the premise, this is a punny story that's just the right mix of funny and sweet....more
Wow. This story was so sweet and grimey at the same time. I loved it, but definitely felt like I needed a bath at the end after all that Pete went thrWow. This story was so sweet and grimey at the same time. I loved it, but definitely felt like I needed a bath at the end after all that Pete went through. ...more
A wonderfully sweet story that is beautifully drawn through the characters, the sex, and the surroundings. Something I could read again and again forA wonderfully sweet story that is beautifully drawn through the characters, the sex, and the surroundings. Something I could read again and again for the sweetness and for the sex....more
Consider all my buttons pushed. Psychological (drug addiction): check. Sub/dom: check. Happy fucking ending (or is that happy ending fucking?): check.Consider all my buttons pushed. Psychological (drug addiction): check. Sub/dom: check. Happy fucking ending (or is that happy ending fucking?): check. Sweet tough guy: check. I nearly squeaked at work I liked this one so much. Hot, sweet and lovely....more
Wow. I really liked this image when it was first posted for grabs, but I hesitated because I didn't think I'd do it justice (Because that is quite theWow. I really liked this image when it was first posted for grabs, but I hesitated because I didn't think I'd do it justice (Because that is quite the attractive man). And going in, I was worried no one would do it justice, but this was a wonderful, hot, romantic story. Well done!...more
Overall This is a cute little free story. The writing is fair, the plot is thin and light, but this isn't meant to be deep. Just a happy taStars: 2.5/5
Overall This is a cute little free story. The writing is fair, the plot is thin and light, but this isn't meant to be deep. Just a happy tale about two men who meet, get to know one another and have some sexy time. There was definitely room for more development with the characters and the relationship, but for what it is, it's cute and entertaining.