Rip out your heart and take it back

Strapped - A handsome young hustler (Ben Bonenfant) moves almost effortlessly through the world, modifying his persona to fit the needs of each client, even though it leaves him with little self-knowledge. That changes during one night of unusual encounters. After trysting with a shy Russian, the young man tries to leave the apartment building but is stymied by its maze-like structure and meets a string of quirky inhabitants who teach him about himself.

(rent) This is another odd movie. It’s good--slow--but enjoyable. Everything that happens to the hustler is kind of subtle and internal, but we can see the transformation happening to him from his first client to his last. This is one that’s good to watch, but I wasn’t amazed by it. It’s more thoughtful than anything. The sex is all present, but aside from some butt and one penis, everything is tasteful (although still R rated due to drugs and language). I think what’s most interesting about this story is the collection of stories that are told within it. We are supposed to see the change that happens to the main character, but just witnessing the stories of the men he meets is fascinating enough.

Amnesia: The James Brighton Enigma - When James Brighton (Dusan Dukic) is found beaten and naked on a park bench in Montreal, he has no idea who he is or how he got there -- all he remembers (eventually) is his name and that he's gay. Now, he's determined to learn the truth, but as increasingly disturbing details emerge, a community that initially supported him begins to doubt his veracity, wondering whether the whole incident wasn't just a clever hoax carried out by a callous con.

(rent) This is very slow moving as the truth behind “James Brighton” is revealed. Most of the beginning is just kind of a mass of uncertainty, and while it’s not depressing, it’s not positive either. As more truths are revealed, a lot more about the main character’s personality is revealed and it’s an interesting look at identity and re-inventing yourself. Also of note, this movie is based on a true story, which I think adds a certain level of awe to it.

Repo! The Genetic Opera - In the near future, a biotech company saves mankind with synthetic replacements for failed organs. But those who default on their new liver or heart are subject to repossession. Shilo (Alexa Vega) navigates this dystopia while searching for a cure for her rare illness. Her odyssey is set to a number of catchy songs in this tongue-in-cheek opera. Paris Hilton, Paul Sorvino, Anthony Head and Sarah Brightman round out the deliciously diverse cast.

(rent) This has some interesting songs, a very dark feel, but is also kind of campy. This has the feel of a cult classic and won’t appeal to everyone, although it will grab some and drive them mad. I found the story to be interesting and the style unique//refreshing, but it didn’t wow me. I had a plot point that just annoyed me as soon as I found out certain events. It probably won’t disappoint if you see a trailer and decide to rent it, but be in the mood for musical singing where sometimes you can’t understand what they’re saying.

Watercolors - At a gallery opening of his work, artist Danny Wheeler (Tye Olson) looks back at the intense experiences that have shaped his life, starting with a fateful high school romance with Carter Melman (Kyle Claire), a classmate and talented swimmer. Their strong but troubled attraction -- and the artistic inspiration that Danny drew from it -- still pose issues for him 15 years later, both in his art and his current romantic relationship.

(rent/buy) This is almost 2 hours, so a little on the long side. It’s also pretty slow and standard high school romance drama in the beginning, although the drama obviously focuses around very different things than the standards. I was lukewarm on this until about three-quarters of the way through where a combination of my recent experience and current state had me crying. I found it powerful and moving, but not all viewers will. Still, I think it’s worth a watch, although I found the ending both hopeful and depressing. It’s very slow, and a little cheesy, but I think it has some good commentary about love, high school, and moving on.

Plan B - After his girlfriend, Laura (Mercedes Quinteros), dumps him and takes up with handsome charmer Pablo (Lucas Ferraro), Bruno (Manuel Vignau) plots revenge: He tries to come between the new lovers. But his plan -- which entails a growing friendship with Pablo -- soon takes an unexpected turn. Though Laura still goes out with Bruno now and again, his sexuality comes into question in this Argentinean import from first-time director Marco Berger.

(rent) Awkward movie is awkward. The one thing I felt made this watchable is the story that gets told, mainly surrounding Pablo. Aside from Pablo, I had difficulties connecting to the characters...Bruno who is deceiving Pablo and still sleeping with Laura, Laura who is cheating on Pablo with Bruno, and Pablo is just being a person who is being confused by the warring emotions within him.

His awakening--and the resulting awakening in Bruno--were interesting, although I found some of the events surrounding it to be stilted. It wasn’t hard to understand Pablo’s pain, but eventually it’s possible to understand Bruno too, although because of his previous actions it’s hard to be too forgiving. I found the end fitting, if not somewhat confusing. The picture leaves much of the conclusions to be drawn by the watcher, which opens up some level of interpretation...or maybe just confusion.

Generally this is maybe worth a watch if you want 2 hours of very mellow (and sometimes very awkward) movie watching, but it’s not the strongest piece I’ve seen, especially lately.


Hiatus-Like Thing

Just an update.

You may have noticed my posts, when they restarted after the accident, were twice a week instead of thrice. And lately once a week. Errr, yeah.

My personal life has been hectic. (Work full time, work part time, going to a chiropractor 3x a week, visiting with friends once a week, housesitting for various family members, and, oh yeah, relaxing.)

Work is fairly stressful on my eyes/brain, so I haven't been 'reading for pleasure' as much as I once did. I'm hoping this will change in time, but for now it's a limitation I'm working within.

So what does this mean? Mainly it means my reviews will be coming...when they come. I'm hoping this hiatus won't last long, but I wanted to let you know why the slow trickle may have suddenly stopped. It will return. I will be sure to announce if I ever plan on NOT continuing my reviews. That isn't the plan at the moment.

Thank you for your patience and understanding.


Weight of a Gun II, an anthology by Storm Moon Press

Weight of a Gun II, an anthology by Storm Moon Press
Stars: 3.5/5

Length: 36,000
Everyone knows that guns are dangerous; they have long been a subject surrounded by controversy. Combine them with sex and you have a subject that is virtually taboo, but smoking hot. Our second gun kink anthology continues to push the envelope of combining sex and guns with three more stories hot enough to cause powder burns.

Continuing in the world of
The Machinist, Avery Belfour and his captor/lover Lord Harrow now face the threat of The Inquisitor. But Harrow is very possessive of his prize and has no intention of turning Avery over without a fight.

Then, a routine black market bust goes wrong for Officer Caleb Baker. He ends up
Playing With the Big Boys when the thieves get the drop on him and decide to have some fun with their new catch.

And finally, Cole Beauchamp is the greatest pistoleer of all time; he's also thoroughly unpleasant and has a habit of scaring away his assistants. But when he is sought out by a devotee with a love of guns that matches his own, Cole finds a new respect for
Benjamin Pepperwhistle and the Fantabulous Circus of Wonders.

This has some good stories, and for those more into gun kink, this will definitely be something to pick up. They are all well written and enjoyable, although some of the stories were lacking, which turned what could have been a fantastic anthology into an average one.

Though the cover makes up for that a little. Another gorgeous one.

The Inquisitor by Gryvon
Stars: 2.5/5
Note: I read "The Mechinist" in the previous anthology, but didn't remember any of it when reading this story. Even taking into consideration the previous story, I think most of my qualms still stand.

I feel like I'm missing something from this story. There is so much world building, and while it happens through character action, there is also a lot of unknowns that are never explained. The end resolution also feels incomplete, as if the lessons learned by Avery only had a minor purpose, when it feels like a grander scheme is in play. More points are raised and never really mentioned, and the title (and instigating element) seems secondary to much of the story.

I enjoyed the writing and everything that I saw here, but it felt like an incomplete story. There were too many elements left hanging and while a happy ending isn't completely necessary, this felt more like the opening chapter than a standalone. I want more--not just because I enjoyed it so much, but because it felt unfinished. I would have loved to have given this a higher star rank, but the ending was not enough of an ending to satisfy. Considering this is the second story of this type, it seems to be ongoing, but offers no indication when it'd be continued.

Playing With the Big Boys by Scarlet Blackwell
For readers sensitive to rape, this story may trigger, but despite the circumstances, the main characters enjoys what he's given, which kind of recalls the adage, "It's not rape if you like it." (Whether or not you agree with that is completely different.) This is very much the setup of a porn, and with the amount of smut going on, it feels like a porn. However, that's not a bad thing. This story relishes it's dirty, dirty place in the world and hopes to take the reader along with it down the path of pleasure.

I could never really sink into the story. It wasn't quite believable (again, the porn storyline) and the hints we're given about the ending, while I think were absolutely fitting and necessary, also had me hurrying through to find out if I was right. So yes, this story is unabashedly gun smut being gun smut. But it's well written, enjoyable, and very, very dirty. There are definitely some questionable morals in most of the characters, but the fact that the narrator enjoys everything so much makes it hard to be too annoyed at the circumstances.

Benjamin Pepperwhistle and the Fantabulous Circus of Wonders by Cornelia Grey
Stars: 5/5
Yum. This is a sexy, smoking hot piece that weaves in touches of humor and humanity that brings it all together. I loved the two main characters (one hard ass, one newbie) and the colorful people who surround them in rainbows of movement. While the plot is pretty much exactly what you expect, it delivers in every way you want it to. And maybe even a little more.

I think my only complaint (and it's minor) would be that we learn nothing about Pepperwhistle's life before he came to the circus. But that's mostly just reader curiosity, I think the hints and teases we're given are all that's needed for the story. After all, he's leaving all of that behind him and moving forward--there's no point dwelling on the past.

Another fantastic piece by Grey!


Pup (Guards of Folsom: Book One) by SJD Peterson

Pup (Guards of Folsom: Book One) by SJD Peterson
Stars: 3.5/5

Length: 214 pages
Micah “Pup” Slayde knows he wants Tackett Austin the moment he lays eyes on him in the Guards of Folsom. Micah wants to have purpose, to be taken care of, and to take care of his Dom—wants to trust him completely, live for him, belong to him. To become his everything. Micah is sure Tackett is the one. The problem is, in order to be the perfect sub, he needs to stay focused, and that’s not easy for Micah, who suffers from what he refers to as a “broken brain.” Focus and adult attention deficit disorder rarely coexist.

Ever since Ty Callahan and Blake Henderson’s collaring ceremony, Tackett’s been thinking too much about his own loneliness. Even though Ty introduces Micah and urges Tackett to give him a try, Tackett isn’t so easily convinced. He’s spent his life pursuing a successful business career, and the subs he dominates almost never enjoy the kiss of his leather twice. Twenty years Micah’s senior, Tackett has no interest in taking on and taming such a young and naughty sub—but it’s difficult to resist such an adorable pup when he begs.

An enjoyable, if not surprisingly mellow, novel that taps more into the psychological than the sensual.

I went into this novel with fairly high expectations, I think, and the novel didn't exactly disappoint, but it wasn't what I'd been expecting either. The story is very mellow and the conflict happens in small waves rather than a rising action—climax—falling action style. In some ways this works for the books, because it shows Micah's small improvements over time in a realistic way. It also lets the characters come together (specifically the Dom) and create an emotional bond.

However, it also meant that when I hit the epilogue, I was surprised. I was at the end? Because nothing had really happened yet. Because all the actions are small waves, there was no big wave to ride out the end of the story on. Again, this isn't necessarily bad, but it does interrupt the reader's expected story flow and make the ending seem sudden.

Something that could work against this story for some readers is that the main plot takes place over two weeks. It works for the purposes of the story and it works for the characters, but some people may cry "instalove" although I don't think it applies. We don't see every day of those two weeks (and I feel that we could have seen more), but the days we see are the ones pertinent to the story and development.

One nice thing about this story was that while it had a sexual focus, it wasn't so heavily ladened with sex scenes that I grew bored with them. Because the focus was more on submission than sexual satisfaction, it lent itself to satisfying the needs of the story and relationship without sex happening on screen every four paragraphs. Many BDSM novels fall into the trap of BDSM = SEX, and while this is often true, this story explored other elements of it as well.

This is not a book to pick up if you want some sexy BDSM time. However, it definitely has its own strengths ands presents some interesting characters and differently presents some elements of BDSM. While I would have liked to have seen more of the training played out to experience what the characters were going through, we see enough to get a feel for the relationship.