Book Review: Greg Honey by Russ Gregory

Honey Agency: If we can’t solve your problem, we’re sorry.

Greg Honey has bigger issues than a sketchy tagline for his one-man detective agency. To start with, his mother is pressuring him to date debutantes, his stalker keeps leaving threatening messages, his new boyfriend is at least four levels higher up on the gay boy food chain, and his best friend, Willa, has lost her panties. To top it all off, things keep pointing toward trouble at the family estate. Will Greg figure out what’s going on in time to help Willa find her panties? Lord knows he wants to because Greg is more than a detective… he’s also a Honey.

WARNING: Do not read this book late at night while others around you are sleeping. You will likely cause them to wake up and be angry with you for all the laughing and snorting you will be doing. This is especially important if you live in an apartment building with paper thin walls.

With that out of the way, I must say I LOVED this new book by Russ Gregory. If you’re expecting a romance, just stop. Greg ain’t got time for that. Well, actually he does, with Matt, the guy he’s seriously crushing on, but that’s not the focus of this book. The focus is the mystery and, well, the comedy. Because this book is HILARIOUS.

Greg is a private investigator in his own, mostly new firm. His family is obscenely wealthy, but he’s not. Along with his friend Willa – who talks nonstop and misunderstands everything – he takes on cases and tries not to get shot or tased on the way to his next paycheck.

I think one of the funniest aspects of the book is Greg’s grandmother, Lucille. She has no filter whatsoever and calls it like she sees it. And when she wants to know something, she asks. Even if it’s the mechanics of Greg’s relationship with Matt.

This cast of characters is fun, mostly lovable, sometimes aggravating, and just all around bigger than the hair in Texas, which does make a special appearance.

If you like mysteries, comedies, or the two combined, do not miss this spectacular new book. I am praying that there is more in the works for Greg Honey, because I need to know what his next case load is going to bring!

You can purchase this book directly from Bold Strokes Books. It will be released September 1, 2013.

Book Review: Lake Thirteen by Greg Herren

It seemed like a good idea at the time….

Every summer three families take a trip together—this year it’s to a remote resort in the mountains of upstate New York. Scotty, a teenager who’s just come out, is nervous about how his friends will react to him. A late night visit to an old nearby cemetery seems like a great idea to the bored teens, but the old cemetery holds dark secrets hidden for almost a century—secrets that might have been better left undisturbed.

And what originally seemed like a boring week in the mountains gradually becomes a nightmare of terror for the teens and their families.

Yet another great young adult book by Greg Herren. This mystery follows Scotty and his friends on a vacation to a mountain lodge that’s more popular in the winter. As such, they are the only guests there. After visiting a cemetery on the road, the five teens start to experience paranormal activities around the lodge. And Scotty can’t help but feel a connection to deceased Albert Tyler, whose grave he found.

The story that follows brings the kids on a frightening journey, which might put them and their loved ones in danger.

The book does has its scary moments, especially when the author moves into the stream-of-consciousness style. With the lack of punctuation, you can’t help but read it faster and faster, which puts you on the edge of your seat wondering what is going to happen next. The scenes also shift from present to the past very rapidly. For the reader it can be disorienting, which is exactly how Scotty feels when it happens to him.

Despite it being a mystery and horror, there are some tender, romantic moments, and also some rather heavy sadness concerning Albert. I felt what Scotty felt, both the terror, the heartbreak, and the joy.

The only gripe I had was how abrupt it ended. I really wanted Scotty to get home to Marc and see the two of them interact outside of Scotty’s mind. But at the same time, the final line was perfect, and any more may have taken away from the bittersweet ending. I just wish Scotty and Marc got a moment together like the other two lovers in the story.

You can purchase this book from Bold Strokes Books.

Book Review: The Adorned by John Tristan

My name is Etan, and I am Adorned.

A living piece of art, I exist to please the divine rulers of Kered. With nowhere to turn after my father died, I tried my luck in the capital city. Little did I know how quickly I would be robbed, beaten and forced to sell myself into servitude. But I was lucky enough to gain the attention of Roberd Tallisk, an irascible but intriguing tattoo artist who offered to mark me with enchanted ink for the enjoyment of the nobles. I was given a chance to better my station in life, and I could not refuse.

But the divine rulers want not only the art but the body that bears it. In their company I can rise above the dregs of society and experience a life most only dream of, at the cost of suffering their every desire as a pawn in games of lavish intrigue. Their attention is flattering, but I find I’d rather have Tallisk’s.

Caught between factions, I learn that a revolution is brewing, one that could ruin Kered—and Roberd and myself along with it…

Wow.

I am left speechless and breathless at the end of this book, and find myself mourning that there is not more of this world for me to dive into. A five star rating system is not enough, and I feel that this book deserves its own category.

Normally I would wait to write a review until some time had passed, but at 1:30 in the morning I just can’t wait. I need to share how wonderful this book is. For the last twenty-four hours I have lived in Kered with Etan and Tallisk, and now that the book is over and I have left it, I feel like I have lost dear friends.

The book is long, but it is a carefully crafted journey that takes readers from the initial plight of Etan being turned out of his former home, his flight to the city, and how he ends up becoming one of the Adorned – a beautiful, living piece of art. His body becomes the canvas of Roberd Tallisk, a master tattooist whose art comes to life with the blood of the Blooded. Readers will follow Etan’s rise in fame as one of the popular Adorned, and see how he is used by the elite members of society for beauty, entertainment, pleasure, and more.

His growing love for Roberd is carefully nuanced throughout the novel, as are the feelings of Roberd for Etan. Told through Etan’s perspective, we see glimpses of it in his actions, but it can only be suspected. And though the protagonists are both men, their love is beautiful. Those who normally shy away from gay romances (or m/m, whichever you prefer) would be missing out on a superbly crafted tale. That said, if you prefer a…spicier gay romance, you won’t find that here. The scenes are subdued and fitting with the rest of the book.

There are moments of discord for the protagonists, though. The city is swept up with chaos, riots break out, and your heart will break. I felt like this story built me up into a wonderful cocoon of beauty and then sharply cut me out and cut me open. I admit I cried.

The ending is bittersweet, but a perfect ending is not always possible, even in fiction, even if we want it. And I think if the ending had been perfect, then all the trials Etan and Roberd went through would have cheapened the story.

This is a well-crafted novel. I am not only deeply saddened that it is over, but I regret that – since it is an e-book with a company that does not offer print – I will not be able to add this fine piece to my collection on my shelves. I will be revisiting this world often, and I look forward to more from John Tristan.

You can purchase this book on its release August 12, 2013 from Amazon.

Book Review: Agamemnon Frost and the House of Death by Kim Knox

Liverpool, 1891

Decorated artilleryman Edgar Mason was forced to find new work when the British Empire replaced its foot soldiers with monstrous machines. Now he waits on the Liverpool elite as a personal servant. He has just one rule: he won’t work for fashion-addled dandies.

Agamemnon Frost, however, is far from the foppish man-about-town he appears to be. He’s working to protect the Earth from an alien invasion being planned by a face-changing creature known as Pandarus. And on the night he plans to confront the aliens, he enlists Mason to assist him.

For a man to love a man is a serious crime in Victorian England. But when Mason meets Frost, his heart thunders and his blood catches fire. And when Pandarus drags the two men into the torture cellars beneath his house of death to brainwash them, Mason’s new passion may be all that stands between him and insanity.

The trilogy continues with Agamemnon Frost and the Hollow Ships.

YES.

That pretty much sums up this book for me. I can’t give a better review than just that one word, but for those that do not know me, I will explain.

I love the following categories: m/m historical fiction, steampunk, Sherlock Holmes, science fiction with alien life, and mystery. Throw all those things together and you have one explosive book that defies categorization and makes for sheer awesome.

THAT IS THIS BOOK.

I didn’t put it down. I sat and read it in one sitting, and even when I had to move rooms, I carried it and walked while reading to the other room. This book is just amazing, and I am SO GLAD it’s part of a trilogy (at least. Please, PLEASE Kim Knox, DON’T STOP THERE!!!)

Agamemnon Frost is a great character. As Mason says, he has many masks, and he wears all of them well. When Mason is hired to be his valet for a night at a party, Mason has no idea what he’s gotten himself into. Apparently Martians are trying to turn people into automatons and take over the world or something. That part isn’t clear because the humans don’t know exactly what they’re after, either. Which makes it that much more interesting.

I loved Mason, too. When he goes through his transfiguration, it’s not 100% the way Frost would have liked it, and there are moments when I think all is in despair. But fear not! Frost is too smart and knows what’s going on and reacts accordingly.

Not only that, but the two men together have some serious sexual tension building. Though there is no acting on it in this book, that was fine with me. The world and character building was enough.

I’m hooked. Move over, Sherlock Holmes. There’s a new man in town, and his name is Agamemnon Frost!

This book is available from Carina Press. You can purchase a copy from Amazon.

A little bit of random for you!

Sometimes I have really deep, introspective thoughts. Other times they’re very broad in subject, but just as deep. And then other times they are just random little thoughts or questions that pop into my head that I want answers to.

Like this.

I was just thinking that, no matter what, there is one product that I will never buy the cheap version of. I just can’t. I will buy store brand food and everything else. I’ll buy dented cans, bottles, food close to expiration date if there is an additional coupon, and I will buy bread and store it in the freezer for months before I actually get to use it. Hey, the bread that I just pulled out of my freezer to thaw and use I purchased in MARCH. It’s still good!

But I will absolutely not buy cheap brand toilet paper. Nope. I cannot do it. There’s just something about it…

So what about you? What’s the ONE thing you absolutely cannot buy the generic brand of? Or do you not care and just like to save money? I’d love to hear about it!

From Costa Rica

Well, this post isn’t from Costa Rica. I WISH I was there, but sadly I’ve never been. Someday, though! I hope to visit.

So why is this post titled this way? Because last month I received a very special email from a fan in Costa Rica. That’s right. COSTA. RICA.

I did a little dance when I read it, and then my heart grew three sizes that day, because this reader was the first reader (who didn’t already know me) to reach out and tell me they’d enjoyed the book.

I’ve always hoped people enjoyed the book, and now I know that there are people out there who the book touches. It makes me so happy. THIS is why I write.

I also received another email the other day, but due to the wonders of Facebook, I didn’t receive the message until six months later. A gay teenage male reader found the courage to buy the book, read it, and send me a message. THAT made my day. I feel terrible that I didn’t see the email right away, but I did respond. To both readers.

I would love to hear from you if you read the book, and I assure you, if I do see your email, I WILL respond. No matter what. :)

So, to my reader in Costa Rica and to my fan on Facebook, this post is for you! Thank you with all of my heart for reading and enjoying Andy Squared enough to send me a message.

Summer – It’s HOT!

So technically speaking I’ve only been on summer vacation for about three weeks, and yet it seems like it’s been months. It could be due to the fact that it’s SO HOT outside I can hardly stand to go out. Thankfully my apartment complex has a pool which I have taken advantage of when it’s not completely crowded with noisy people.

In other news, I’ve gone letterboxing. Found eight boxes one day, and while I’ve planned to go out and get more on the trail that I had missed…it’s just been TOO HOT! I don’t do well in the heat. Currently all of the shades are closed in my place and it’s STILL heating up too fast. I guess that’s the downside of having massive windows!

I also have some other exciting news, but I’ll share that on this page soon. But if you’ve been on my Facebook page, you’ve seen it already.

Back to work, now!