Showing posts with label Jeff Mann. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jeff Mann. Show all posts

Sunday, March 11, 2012

This n That: Computer Woes + Jeff (the) Mann

Okay my friends it's official: my computer is dead and ready for a funeral. There's no saving it this time. I've been without my trustee friend now for almost two weeks and am going through severe withdrawal symptoms.

I do have an old laptop at home that's so old and slow it is more frustrating than worth the time to try using it for anything. And for posting here, I've borrowed my daughter's laptop a couple of times, but that doesn't really work out on a regular basis. So, yes... time for a new computer. [sigh]  Barring unforeseen complications, I will have a brand new iMac in my hot little hands by Wednesday of this week. Thankfully, hopefully!


My reading has suffered too, people! I've been flitting like a bee going from flower to flower, back and forth between books. I haven't been able to concentrate for long on one book lately, and that's not due to the books I assure you, it is ALL me! The best I've done so far this month is finish two complete novels, and the rest have been novellas (a couple of them re-reads). The good news is that the two novels I finished were excellent. The first one was The Temporary Wife by Mary Balogh, which I loved and already reviewed.


The other novel I finished was Purgatory: A Novel of the Civil War by Jeff Mann. Yes, I read that book yesterday (the Kindle edition. I'm still waiting for the print edition to arrive so I can pet the gorgeous cover, but couldn't wait to read it), and it was worth it. 

The novellas that I read during the week were also mostly by Jeff Mann. I re-read some the short stories from his Lambda Award winning collection A History of Barbed Wire, and also read his novella "Camp Allegheny" from the anthology History's Passions edited by Richard Labonte which I've had ever since it released back in November 2011. Reading both the novella and re-reading some of the short stories served as a refresher in Mann's style before reading his latest release, Purgatory.

Purgatory: A Novel of the Civil War (Bear Bones Books, 2012) turned out to be terrific blend of historical fiction and BDSM erotic romance. Jeff Mann has studied American Civil War history  -- I think he eats it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner along with some of that excellent Southern cooking he loves -- and in Purgatory the reader can smell and taste war, as well as the hatred, desperation, hunger, and even the ambivalence that the soldiers in this story experience in camp or on the run as they march toward Purgatory Mountain.

I love that aspect of Mann's writing, just as I absolutely appreciate the fact that he is the one author that can really make me understand why his characters need to be part of the gay BDSM bear sub-culture. He is part of this community, and his own passion and understanding for it come forth clearly and powerfully through the pages of this novel, as well as through all his previous works. I love the unabashed passion he conveys for both the gay bear sub-culture and for his Southern roots.

But coming back to Purgatory, Mann blends aspects of BDSM seamlessly in this novel. I wondered how he would approach it in a realistic way because of the historical setting, and was not disappointed. Instead of forcing the issue, Mann beautifully uses the historical setting as a platform to develop this aspect of the story. He does a terrific job of separating and showing the reader the differences between torture and the passionate, erotic, and loving aspects of BDSM. I was particularly taken with his rendering of the captive's character. Understanding his motivations as the submissive in this story is key, and Mann makes certain this is unquestionably clear to the reader. Kudos all around.

Besides the highly recommended Purgatory, and the other stories I mention above, if you're interested in reading and understanding a bit more about Jeff Mann and his writings, I strongly recommend that you also read Binding the God: Ursine Essays from the Mountain South.

ETA: I highlighted the cover for this book earlier because I love it so, and I wanted to add that the cover fits the story and characters perfectly! 

Well my friends that is it for me on this Sunday. I am hoping to have that computer and some reviews that are long overdue for all of you this week! I'm also hoping to finish a few books that I began reading and have not finished: Songs for the New Depression by Kergan Edwards-Stout, Walking the Clouds: An Anthology of Indigenous Science Fiction edited by Grace L. Dillon, The Surrender of Miss Fairbourne by Madeline Hunter, A Promise of Spring by Mary Balogh, Strawberries and Other Erotic Fruits by Jerry L. Wheeler, Barrayar by Lois McMaster Bujold, and Doubletake by Rob Thurman.

Wish me luck with my reading mojo! I need to get it back!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Cover/Author Spotlight: Purgatory by Jeff Mann

During the Civil War, two young soldiers on opposite sides find themselves drawn together. One is a war-weary but scholarly Southerner who has seen too much bloodshed, especially the tortures inflicted upon the enemy by his vicious commanding officer, his uncle. The other is a Herculean Yankee captured by the rag-tag Confederate band and forced to become a martyr for all the sins of General Sheridan's fires. When these two find themselves admiring more than one another's spirit and demeanor, when passions erupt between captor and captive, will this new romance survive the arduous trek to Purgatory Mountain?
Purgatory: A Novel of the Civil War by Jeff Mann

I know... I just posted a review and it has been a looong time since I highlighted one book or a cover in this blog, but I couldn't help myself after receiving a newsletter announcing that this book is releasing in March. I've been keeping an eye out for it ever since I first saw the cover highlighted at Lethe's website.

There's something about this cover that just does SOMETHING for me. Maybe it's the eyes, the beard or the gorgeous eyebrows on that soldier (that face!), or maybe it's the composition of the picture, but I love, love this cover. It makes me want to hold the book in my hands.

Of course there's the most important part of it, the content! This book is by Jeff Mann. Just read the blurb. If anyone can do justice to a Civil War fiction yarn and make passions erupt convincingly between a Confederate and a Yankee soldier, it's Jeff Mann. Cant't wait!

Book releases March 15, 2012
Gay Historical Romance
Bear Bones Books

ETA: Read My Review Here

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year! December 2010 Recap & Minis

Happy New Year, everyone! Best Wishes for 2011!

The year is over and I can't believe it, but here we are, the first of the year and still recapping 2010. I'm taking the opportunity today to finish off with my December reads.

December was not a prolific reading month for me: new job and schedule, family emergencies that took me away from home, and the holidays in between. But somehow I seemed to have managed to sneak in a few books here and there, as well as a few posts and reviews, although not as many as I would have liked. Hopefully, things will settle down into a routine and January will be better.

Maybe it already is! I've won three books at the fantastic DIK Giveways! Song of Seduction by Carrie Lofty, and today I received word that I won two Super Romances: From Friend to Father and Beginning with Baby by Tracy Wolff. Excellent way to begin the year, wouldn't you say? Thanks to Tracy, all the DIK ladies, and participating authors. :D

Since I didn't read much and didn't review most of the books read either, I'm including small Mini-Impressions with this recap (lots of enjoyable B's):

Total books read: 9
Re-reads: 2
New Reads: 7

1. Play of Passion (Psy/Changeling Series) by Nalini Singh: A-
(Upcoming Review)

2. Happy Ever After (Bridal Quartet, #4) by Nora Roberts: C
(Upcoming Review)

3. Marry Me by Jo Goodman was a highly enjoyable historical romance, and if you read my review you'll see why. Goodman certainly knows how to develop her characters and how to weave a good story. I would like to thank Tabitha for letting me know that this book was free at Amazon for the Kindle. With my busy schedule, I would have missed the opportunity. Thanks Tabs! Grade: B

4. A Bride in the Bargain by Deeanne Gist was a re-read and I reviewed it as the last submission for the Re-Read and Historical Challenges. I enjoyed this book more this time around than the first time I read it. I love it when that happens -- discovering new details or character traits that I didn't quite "get" or see the first time. This is one of the reasons I love to re-read. Grade: B+

5. A Virgin River Christmas by Robyn Carr was also a re-read. I loved this novella the first time I read it, and it was no different this time. A year after Marcie's husband dies due to injuries received during the war in Afghanistan, she decides to search for the Marine who saved her husband's life and brought him home. Ian disappeared after bringing Bobby home and no one has seen him since. Marcie is relentless in the way she pursues Ian so she can find closure, as well as to offer him that peace he so desperately needs. This novella has funny, fun moments, deep, touching moments, as well as warmth and love. I enjoyed re-reading it through the holidays. Grade: B+

6. Binding the God: Ursine Essays from the Mountain South by Jeff Mann was a huge surprise to me. I began by just skimming through the first few pages of this book and next thing I knew I was half-way through. It was a fascinating and absorbing read!

Mr. Mann is a man full of contradictions, and his life and lifestyle make for some interesting and informative reading. As he often says in his essays, he belongs to two minorities: he is gay and Appalachian. On top of that, he also belongs to the "bear/leather" sub-culture within the LGBT community and still lives in the politically conservative south where he teaches at Virginia Tech. You can imagine that he has a lot to say and he does! -- quite candidly and directly. He explores the different aspects of his life in these essays, as well as the differences between the "bear/BDSM" lifestyle, and that of what he refers to as the "mainstream" LGBT culture. Expect some repetitiveness from one essay to the next (they were written at different times), but note that although some information is repeated, each essay focuses on a different subject matter and develops that subject in-depth as the book moves along. Quite a read! Grade: B

7. All She Wrote: Holmes and Moriarity, Book 2 by Josh Lanyon was another book I enjoyed. I loved the characters in these books (Christian and JX), and Kit's bumbling attempts at crime solving, his insecurities and acerbic sense of humor in Somebody Killed His Editor. JX is just as sweet, loving and HOT as he was in the first book... but, I must say I didn't get caught up immediately by the characters or story. The humor was there in some sections, but lacking compared to that first installment. The plot itself also took a while to capture my attention, as did the secondary characters. Having said that, after a while, the story got going, the mystery picked up and Christopher and JX worked that bumbling mystery-solving and passionate magic. Grade: B

8. Life After Joe by Harper Fox. My introduction to this author was through the novella she wrote for the "His for the Holidays" anthology: "Nine Lights Over Edinburgh." Let me tell you, that story was quite a surprise! I'm really liking this author. She creates and develops some tough, flawed characters that might not necessarily be likable, lovable or heroic, yet she makes her romances work. After reading Life After Joe, I will definitely purchase more of her books. Thank you Mariana for the recommendation. Grade: B+

9. I won "The Sentry: A Joe Pike Novel" by Robert Crais in the Goodreads "First Reads" program and releases on January 11, 2011. Following is my Goodreads Mini:

This is the second book I've read by Mr. Crais, and although both books are part of the Elvis Cole series, they are Joe Pike Novels. The first book I read was The Watchman: A Joe Pike Novel, and the first book featuring this wonderful character. Well, I fell in love with Joe Pike in 2007, and of course wanted to read this book as soon as I saw it up for grabs.

Joe Pike again plays the tarnished, taciturn knight. I love the way Crais maintains this character a bit of a mystery by using spare dialogue and what seems like little emotion, and yet conveys the man's true character through his actions. The balance between Joe and Elvis Cole's characters serve as an excellent contrast.

While playing "Good Samaritan," Joe Pike saves a man from a beating. Simple, right? Well... not quite. Saving this man sets up a chain of events and like falling dominoes next thing he knows, Joe is falling for a woman and tangling with local gangs, the local police, the FBI, Mexican and Bolivian drug lords and a relentless assassin. The twists and turns in this story come fast and furious and nothing is quite what it seems. The quick pacing keeps the reader turning the pages and wondering what's going to happen next. I want more Joe Pike! I'll definitely read the next one. Grade: B

That's it for December and 2010!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

News and more December 2010 New Releases!

Happy Tuesday everyone!

I have some personal news for you today. I started a new job this week and I'm excited! As with all changes, I'll need to make some adjustments to my routine. However, even if I slow down a bit during this first month with my new job, I will continue to read and share my impressions with you.

Today, I want to share three December releases I did not include in my original list of "must reads" for the month. Three books by very different authors in different genres:
  • On the LGBT front, I'll definitely be reading Binding the God: Ursine Essays from the Mountain South by Jeff Mann. I've only read one short story by this author and loved it. I'm not passing up this collection of essays.
  • All She Wrote: Holmes and Moriarity by Josh Lanyon (Book 2). I loved the characters and the first book of this M/M mystery romance series and can't wait to continue reading it. The mysteries and fun!
  • Wedding of the Season by Laura Lee Guhrke is a historical romance and first in the Abandoned at the Altar series. This series attracted my attention and I'm hoping it will be a winner for me.

Binding the God: Ursine Essays from the Mountain South by Jeff Mann
Release Date: December 6, 2010
A much lauded essayist and poet, Jeff Mann writes of the passion and pain of being a Southern gentleman who happens to be invested in many worlds: the hungers of gay Bear culture; the propensities of leather and bondage; the frustrations of academia; and the perspectives of an Appalachian who has traveled the world. In Binding the God, his second collection of essays, Mann offers readers another tour of his consciousness and experiences. This volume includes essays previously published in Arts and Letters, Second Person Queer, Callaloo, Now and Then, White Crane, Queer and Catholic, and other journals and anthologies.

All She Wrote: Holmes and Moriarity, Book 2 by Josh Lanyon
Release Date: December 28, 2010
A murderous fall down icy stairs is nearly the death of Anna Hitchcock, the much-beloved “American Agatha Christie” and Christopher Holmes’s former mentor. Anna’s plea for him to host her annual winter writing retreat touches all Kit’s sore spots—traveling, teaching writing classes, and separation from his new lover, J.X. Moriarity.

For J.X., Kit’s cancellation of yet another romantic weekend is the death knell of a relationship that has been limping along for months. But that’s just as well, right? Kit isn’t ready for anything serious and besides, Kit owes Anna far too much to refuse.

Faster than you can say “Miss Marple wears boxer shorts”, Kit is snooping around Anna’s elegant, snowbound mansion in the Berkshires for clues as to who’s trying to kill her. A tough task with six amateur sleuths underfoot. Six budding writers with a tangled web of dark undercurrents running among them. Slowly, Kit gets the uneasy feeling that the secret may lie between the pages of someone’s fictional past. Unfortunately, a clever killer is one step ahead. And it may be too late for J.X. to ride to the rescue.

Warning: Contains one irascible, forty-year-old mystery writer who desperately needs to get laid, one exasperated thirty-something ex-cop only too happy to oblige, an isolated country manor that needs the thermostat cranked up, various assorted aspiring and perspiring authors, and a merciless killer who may have read one too many mystery novels.

Wedding of the Season: Abandoned at the Altar by Laura Lee Guhrke (Book 1)
Release Date: December 28, 2010
Abandoned at the altar . . .
Lady Beatrix Danbury had always known she would marry William Mallory. She'd loved him forever and she'd never doubted he loved her, too. But when she made him choose between their life together or his lifelong dream, Will chose the latter . . . and left two weeks before their wedding.

Return of the duke . . .
Will has no illusions that Beatrix would welcome him back with open arms, but six years did not dim his love or desire for her. The only problem is, she's about to marry someone else. Someone safe and predictable . . . the complete opposite of Will. But can he stop the wedding of the season and win Beatrix back, or is it just too late?

Friday, March 12, 2010

M/M Mini Review: Best Gay Erotica 2010 edited by Richard Labonté selected by Blair Mastbaum

In Best Gay Erotica 2010, Richard Labonté together with Blair Mastbaum, again puts together an excellent anthology that gathers a wide range of perspectives from the gay community using the erotic and of course different writing styles.

Some of the stories tackle subjects that are not always comfortable: closeted married or engaged men who are on the "down low" and cheating on their wives or girlfriends; older men cruising and using younger men; men looking for sexual pleasure in seedy places. Then there are touching stories... stories of couples, of loss, of single encounters that make an impact on the reader. The writing and the content make it possible for both these types of stories to make that impact.

By the time I finished reading, I found that I did have favorites in this anthology: Smoke and Semen by Jeff Mann; Colin and Gregory: 1956 by Jonathan Kemp; Holiday from Love by Hank Fenwick; Better Late Than Never by Rachel Kramer Bussel; The Boy in the Middle by Thom Wolf; 8 Beautiful Boys 8: The Follies Revisited by Jamie Freeman.

The above are not in any particular order and represent the wide variety of stories that are included in this anthology. I must admit that Smoke and Semen by Jeff Mann is my favorite story. The plot has everything in it, from light BDSM, to love, to loss -- the characters are developed in this little story and by the time I finished I had thoroughly connected -- not an easy thing to accomplish in a 13 page short.

These are all excellent stories, all well written and well edited so there's no waste. I certainly enjoyed reading the entire book. This is an anthology I recommend if you like variety when reading your erotica.

Genre: LGBT - Gay Erotica
Series: None
Released: December 1, 2009
Grade: B+

Find it here and here

M/M Romance Challenge 2010 Review