Saturday, 31 December 2016

2016 Release: Glitter Gabe by Alex C. Clarke

Title: Glitter Gabe (English Edition) (Glitter Series Book One)
Author: Alex C. Clarke
Language: English
Published: 19th December, 2016
ISBN: Paperback ISBN: 9781786450869
eBook ISBN: 9781786450876
ASIN: B01MU1JRG6
Category: Fiction
Genre: LGBT, Romance and Relationships, Adult

BLURB:
Two lonely souls who grew apart are trying to make their lost love shine again.

Gabriel and Xabi first met when they were teenagers. Gabe was already openly gay whereas Xabi doubted he'd ever come out. Life isn't always simple at such a troubled age, especially when you have a strong personality.

Ten years after their first encounter, life offers them a second chance. Will Xabi manage to make his Glitter Gabe shine again? Will Gabriel give Xabi the opportunity to prove he's changed?

Discover their love story through the landscapes of the Basque countryside and Paris.

REVIEW:
Alex C. Clarke is an incredibly talented author. Not only did she write this book in its original French (her native language), but she also wrote the translation, and her English is excellent. It has a distinct French accent and not because of the characters and settings. There are descriptions and phrases that, when translated into English, create a wholly different feeling to the same words in the order native English speakers expect.

As editor, I endeavoured to keep those linguistic nuances. Well, if I'm honest, Gabriel gave me no choice. He's a strong character and his voice is distinct. I also enjoyed learning a little about Basque culture, of which I knew nothing at all.

It's difficult to say much more without spoiling the story (I try not to go beyond what the author offers in their blurb), but what I can say is Gabriel and Xabi won me over, even if, at times, I wanted to shake some sense into them both. That kind of characterisation, where I feel real emotions (even the negative ones), is for me the mark of an excellent story. Better still, there is a translation of book two, Fabulous Fabiola, already in progress.

Buy 'Glitter Gabe (English Edition) (Glitter Series Book One)': 

2016 Release: Take A Chance Anthology

Title: Take A Chance Anthology: A Collection of Gay Romance for New Adults
Author: Chase Potter, J.A. Rock, Jamie Deacon, Kelley York, Dee Aditya, Lynn Michaels, Eric Gober, Elinor Gray, Debbie McGowan, Kari Jo Spear, Melissa E Costa, Claire Davis and Al Stewart
Language: English
Published: 15th December, 2016
ISBN: Paperback ISBN: 978-1-78645-111-8
eBook ISBN: 978-1-78645-112-5
ASIN: B01MRT5FHZ
Category: Fiction
Genre: LGBT, Romance and Relationships, Fantasy, Short Stories, Contemporary Fiction, New Adult

BLURB:
A single moment can change everything.

A university student preparing to confront the adolescent crush who betrayed him. A demon embroiled in a battle against his very nature. A soldier, mentally scarred after fighting in The Great War, torn between propriety and his heart. Though separated by time and distance, culture and reality, these young men all have one thing in common: they each stand at a crossroads in their life and face a choice that will alter the course of their future.

The twelve tales in this collection of gay romantic fiction range from sweet to erotic, contemporary to historical, paranormal to grittily realistic. Whether centred around the fear associated with coming out, the thorny issue of trust, or the struggle for survival, each story explores in its own way the courage needed to overcome personal obstacles and take a chance on love.

STORIES:
Reflections by Chase Potter
Stranger Than Stars by J.A. Rock
Another Story by Jamie Deacon
Howl by Kelley York
A Boy Named Khwahish by Dee Aditya
Want you Bad by Lynn Michaels
Far From Texas by Eric Gober
The Right Words by Elinor Gray
Class-A by Debbie McGowan
Lockdown by Kari Jo Spear
Dream Infected by Melissa E Costa
Cheese and Pickle by Claire Davis and Al Stewart

REVIEW:
The best thing about working on Take A Chance was that I didn't edit it! Hurrah! Don't misunderstand; I love my work, but the reason I'm a publisher is my love of books and reading. By the time I got to these stories, they were already well-polished, making for an experience akin to reading for pleasure.

Thus, I must congratulate Jamie Deacon, Sherri Jordan Asble and all of the authors for the excellent work they put in to writing and editing these stories. The result is twelve short reads that - whilst themed around 'taking a chance' - are all very different from one another. They are all wonderful!

Buy 'Take A Chance Anthology: A Collection of Gay Romance for New Adults': 

2016 Release: Common Sense by Hans M Hirschi

Title: Common Sense - In Business & Life
Author: Hans M Hirschi
Language: English
Published: 15th December, 2016
ISBN: Paperback: 978-1-78645-061-6
eBook: 978-1-78645-062-3
Category: Non-Fiction
Genre: Business

BLURB:
Common sense is like great music, mesmerizing art or funny jokes: difficult to pinpoint but we all recognize it when we see it. In this book, Hans M Hirschi explores the concept of common sense, through philosophy, reflection, and practice.

Using his thorough experience from business and management from all corners of the world, Hans demonstrates that 'common sense' is not as common as you might think. What is regarded as common sense in Sweden isn't necessarily true in China, Tunisia or Brazil. He uses clear examples to provide insight into cultural differences that affect the world of business as well as everyday life.

This second edition, completely re-edited and with a new chapter on Talent Management, will help you use your common sense all over the world - in business and in life.

REVIEW:
I can't really add to what it says in the blurb, because this book does exactly as it says. I enjoyed it more than I expected (I read fiction for fun, non-fiction for academic work), particularly as the few business books I've glanced over in the past have been full of buzz-BS about blue skies and flag poles and forward planning and so on, ad nauseam.

Common Sense - In Business & Life is nothing like that, with its relatively informal style, down-to-earth examples and research-based analysis. The academic part of me twitched a little at the author's decision to not include reference to his sources, but he does extend an open invitation to readers to engage him in discussion.

All in all, whilst this is not a book I would choose to read, I'm pleased I had the opportunity to do so and imagine middle managers in particular will find familiar scenarios and positive ideas for their own work situation.

Buy 'Common Sense - In Business & Life': 

2016 Release: Of The Bauble by Debbie McGowan

Title: Of The Bauble
Author: Debbie McGowan
Language: English
Published: 15th December, 2016
ISBN: eBook: 978 1 78645 106 4
Paperback: 978 1 78645 110 1
ASIN: B01N3KJIVH
Category: Fiction
Genre: Young Adult, LGBT, Humour, Romance and Relationships, Fantasy, Holidays and Celebrations

BLURB:
When nineteen-year-old Kieran O'Sullivan takes a trip to the attic for the Christmas decorations, it proves to be an illuminating experience.

Box includes:
- a hapless but not altogether helpless student
- a pedantic supernatural being (or two, or...well, quite a few)
- a funky older sister
- the coolest mum in the world
- a naughty rescue bunny and her easily led feline sidekick
- an insightful ex-girlfriend
- twinkle lights
- tinsel
- baubles

* Warning - may contain traces of magic and a smidgeon of social commentary (hey, it's a book by Debbie McGowan - did you expect anything else?) *

Of the Bauble is a young adult, biromantic/non-binary fantasy romance.

REVIEW:
(proofreader's review)
So I've just finished reading the book for the second time (one of the perks of being a proofreader), yet I'm still wishing there was more, because it's that good!
If nothing else is going to need my immediate intention, I'll happily read it a third time...

Yes, there's magic, and romance, and Christmassy things, yet there's so much more as well!
It's very clever for a start; I kept thinking 'how is Deb going to pull this one off?', knowing that she would do it brilliantly, but not quite seeing how she could.
It's that suspense that's one of the things that make the story stand out from the usual Christmas fare. Another aspect is the loveable and very real characters, including some non-human ones. It may also have made me shed a few tears along the way, but I'm not admitting that publicly...

And about the non-binary aspect: much as I love Alpha male/Alpha male stories, in this case having a GQ character only adds to the mystery aspect of the story.

So what else can I say? It's really hard to do the story justice without spoilers; words are poor... ;-)

Buy 'Of The Bauble': 

2016 Release: Hammer's Thief by Alexis Woods

Title: Hammer's Thief
Author: Alexis Woods
Language: English
Published: 1st December, 2016
ISBN: Paperback: 978-1-78645-100-2
eBook: 978-1-78645-101-9
ASIN: B01MPZYC2E
Category: Fiction
Genre: LGBT, Romance and Relationships, Fantasy, Holidays and Celebrations

BLURB:
Eight nights to fall in love.

Running away from his foster home at eighteen, Locke struggles to survive the brutal winter streets in Atlantic City. Trust is a fickle thing, and Locke hasn't had much of it. He's worked hard for everything he has. When a helpful security guard takes him in during a Code Blue, Locke discovers that some things are more than they seem. His fantasy becomes reality, but sometimes reality is too good to be true.

Graced by God, Judah Maccabee has dwelt in Yahweh's kingdom for nigh on two thousand years, rising through His ranks to become a leader among the warrior angels. A blessing bestowed, Yahweh has found the one for him. Now Judah has only the eight nights of Chanukah to fall in love with the one who will complete him. The only catch - his other half must love him in return if he is to stay earthbound. But expecting Locke to fall just as hard and fast as he does rebounds in a devastating way.

When egos rule and demons lurk, can these two men pull together, trust in family and faith, and earn love? And can they do it in a single week?

REVIEW:
This is the second story that is part of Chosen Angels, the first being Lion's Hero, which is part of Boughs of Evergreen anthology. The stories are fully stand-alone, but of the same canon, and the characters from Lion's Hero appear in Hammer's Thief, so it would be worth reading Lion's Hero as well (and possibly before Hammer's Thief).

This is perhaps a little more 'typical MM romance' than I would normally read, but it is beautifully written, and the fantasy adventure than runs alongside the romance is great. I really liked Locke, and Judah to a lesser extent, but my favourite 'character' is Yahweh - portrayed as a truly loving father with a sense of humour.

Alexis Woods has a very smooth writing style and a great way with words, and having read pretty much every story she's written, to my mind, she excels at fantasy/romance.

Buy 'Hammer's Thief': 

2016 Release: Albion Calling by Stuart Ayris

Title: Albion Calling
Author: Stuart Ayris
Language: English
Published: 5th December, 2016
Publisher: Beaten Track/Stuart Ayris
ISBN: Paperback: 978-1-78645-102-6
Category: Fiction
Genre: Experimental / Surreal, Literary, Humour

BLURB:
Henry John Bateman is a hospital porter. He drinks too much alcohol, does too much cocaine and has been married too many times.

Yet somehow, he discovers, beneath the staples of an old map, a small piece of land owned by no man, no lord, no council and no government, and he sets out for that land so that he may rest his weary head.

But it was never going to be that easy. Not for Henry John Bateman. Not once he meets Oh Emmylou. Not with that bakery girl he's left behind who might be alive or she might be dead. And certainly not when Albion comes calling...

REVIEW:
Stu Ayris is a truly unique author. I know of absolutely no other author who writes the way he does. His novels live on the genius/lunatic line, and at first glance, Albion Calling appears to have taken up camp in the land of lunacy.

But actually, the clue that this isn't all some mad rambling nonsense is in the chapter titles. You may well recognise what they are, because they all take this form: I I I I IV IV I I V IV I I. If you don't, no problem. It's explained in the book...eventually. ;)

The other point I would make here is that to get the best out of any Stuart Ayris story - and particularly this one - you should read them aloud. The language is lyrical and rhythmic - I dare say hypnotic - and the story follows stream of thought (Henry John Bateman's), not necessarily chronologically.

A bottle of wine might be an idea, too.

Buy 'Albion Calling': 

2016 Release: Heir of Locksley by N.B. Dixon

Title: Heir of Locksley (Outlaw's Legacy #1)
Author: N.B. Dixon
Language: English
Published: 1st December, 2016
Publisher: Beaten Track
ISBN: Paperback ISBN: 978-1-78645-080-7
eBook ISBN: 978-1-78645-081-4
ASIN: B01LZ6Y88F
Category: Fiction
Genre: Young Adult, LGBT, History, Romance and Relationships, Adventure

BLURB:
Robin of Locksley is a rebel, more comfortable roaming Sherwood Forest with his longbow and courting the village girls than learning how to run a manor.

An innocent flirtation with a peasant girl soon lands Robin in trouble, and worse, he finds himself inexplicably attracted to Will Scathelock, his best friend since childhood. Robin must decide whether to follow the rules of society or his own conscience.

Meanwhile, his neighbour, Guy of Gisborne, is anxious to get his hands on the Locksley estate and he will do anything to make it happen - even murder.

REVIEW:
I hadn't realised until I read Heir of Locksley that I have a bit of a soft spot for historical semi-fiction. OK, I know Robin Hood is legend, and the research indicates there may have been a Robin of Locksley, but whether he robbed to the rich to give to the poor is arguable.

Whether Robin existed or not is by the by. What is true is that N.B. Dixon put a great deal of work into researching the legend in order to create this impressive retelling of Robin's story, and in so doing acknowledged that it is entirely plausible (and probable) Robin was not heterosexual.

Fair warning: this novel is NOT MM romance, but it is only book one of a four-part series and there will be developments between Robin and Will. I won't say more than that (the information is available on the author's website - nbdixonauthor.com - if you want to know more).

I've discussed the genre with the author, because to me, this is very much an older YA story, and it's the kind that I think will 'grow up' with its readers. The series follow Robin through his life, so it's one to read in order (for those who come across this review after the other books are published).

Buy 'Heir of Locksley (Outlaw's Legacy #1)':