Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Hop Against Homophobia and Transphobia: And the Winner is....

I want to say thank you to all those who participated in the blog hop, and certainly to everyone who stopped by, and left lovely comments on my post about addiction. 

I've drawn a name, and the winner is Karl. Congratulations Karl! I am on the road today to do the whole parent/kid exchange thing so I will email you at the address you provided when I get back, or if you are in a hurry you can email me: engineerqueen@rocketmail.com  and let me know what book you would like from Amazon, and as a bonus I'm still going to donate 10$ in your name to the Matthew Shepard Foundation. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Author Interview: Brandon Shire

An Interview of sorts with 
Brandon Shire 

First of all, I want to take a moment to thank Brandon. He is someone who inspires me a lot, and I'm so grateful for the support that he has always given me and this blog with every book that he puts out and asks me to review. 

Brandon is here promoting his new book Cold, which released on May 14th. You can find our review for it HERE, along with the buy links. 

Brandon Shire's first book was Value of Rain was published in November of 2011, and now less than 2 years later he has 4 additional books under his belt: Listening to Dust (March 2012), Afflicted (Nov 2012), Afflicted 2 (Dec 2012), and now Cold (May 2013)

Brandon has generously agreed to give away an ebook of Cold in either Epub or Mobi format. Details on that give-away are at the end of this post. 

Why a Prison book?  

Honestly, it was the intensity of the environment that intrigued me. Most stories about prison are based the violence and the climate of prison life. I wanted to focus more on the characters, but place them in a setting where two complete opposites would be almost forced into interaction because of the close confines and daily monotony.

What kind of research did you have to do for this book? 

 I did a lot of research for this book, and have several consultants to thank. One person is a prison guard, another is a parolee who spent 20+ years in prison for murder, and another is a retired forest naturalist who gave me quite bit more insight into Lem’s character than I had considered while the book was still rolling around in my head

How does the writing process work for you? About how long from conception to research to birth did Cold take?

My muse spits out a dozen ideas at a time. I dutifully jot them down since this usually occurs while I'm in the middle of another project. The concept of Cold began to unfold in December 2012, so from there to the publication date in May...about six months, which is typical for me.

Does love make people's poor choices or actions redeemable or does it just make them human? 

Good question. I wish I had an answer, but I don’t. I think the love between two people is different in each and every situation, and only the person involved in the relationship could answer such a question. Otherwise, you, as an outsider, are just judging an intimacy which you know nothing about. From a personal perspective, I think each person has the qualities that would create a bond; I don’t hold people as 'redeemable' because I don’t see them as irredeemable. Singular actions and poor choices do not, for me, make up the definition of a person as a whole. 

Do you think that writing a story about a relationship between two men that have been convicted of Murder and Drug dealing humanizes them for readers? 

I think our conception of the people in prison is based on the crap people watch on television and the hype produced by the media to sell ad space. Dehumanizing individuals to allow us to match the concepts we're force fed is why we have the largest prison population in the world. Whether Cold pushes back against that, I can't say. I honestly don't think it is likely. Corporate America has too tight a hold on the average individual's panic button to realistically expect changes in the foreseeable future. 

Your books focus on characters that might be outside the life scope of the bulk of your readers.  Is there a reason why? 

This comes about because I like to test boundaries and push back against predefined concepts. While I do a lot of research and try to be factual in the presentation of my fiction, what I find is not always in line with the common beliefs people hold. (Laughs) I think that's why readers have a love/hate relationship with my writing style. 

Many people may have a love/hate relationship with Brandon's style, but I for one love it. I also love the evolution of that style and voice, and how it changes from one book to the next. Whether you like it or not, you have to agree that Brandon Shire's voice is a powerful one. If you notice, there are no personal questions in this interview because Brandon is a private person who wants his work to speak for itself. If you wish to contact Brandon, or find out more about his books you may do so through his website:


Or through twitter (@TheBrandonShire)

Or on the fan group on Goodreads  He drops in quite often.

So... you want to win a copy of Cold?

 Well all you have to do to enter into the Drawing is leave a comment with your email address AND the format (Epub or Mobi)  and I will enter you into a drawing to be held on May 24th (Friday) which is also the last day of the blog tour. I will announce the winner on our 



Twitter (@engineerqueen)

I will also announce on the Goodreads group linked above. 

The winner will also receive an email in case they miss it here or on fb or twitter. 

Each of the blogs on the tour are giving away a copy of Brandon's book.. You can find out into about his stops HERE.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Review: Cold by Brandon Shire

Title: Cold
Author: Brandon Shire
Rating: 4/5 hearts 

Book 1: Prison is a brutal, heartless, and demeaning environment. No one knows this better than a man sentenced to life in prison for murder. Lem Porter is a high-profile prisoner who had a solid career ahead of him in a field he loved until he killed his brother. He has spent almost eighteen years behind bars and doesn't have much hope left.

Anderson Passero had it all. He built a career, a name, and a relationship with a man he thought he loved. Only after he very publicly landed in prison did he realize how ignorant he’d been. He has eight months left on his sentence and he is eager to go home and put prison life behind him. He doesn't know it yet, but he will always carry these eight months with him, and they may just help him to understand what love really means.


I don't like prison books. Partly because I was a criminal justice major for a long time. Partly because my dad was a prison guard for awhile. One of my best friends is also a prison guard. I have a hard time feeling sympathy for prisoners. My mind likes to dehumanize them. I have a very strict inner moral code, so I just have a hard time getting into stories centered in the prison system.  My review is a little colored by those things, so I figured I'd be upfront going in. 

Right from the beginning I really felt for Lem. He is obviously devastated by the crime that landed him in prison. He relives his crime constantly (even while there is no reason given for the crime). He obviously feels an incredible amount of guilt despite never having outwardly shown remorse. He truly believes that he SHOULD be in prison, partly because there is nothing left for him on the outside. He can't have what he really wants so there is no hope in his mind. 

Anderson, I felt less sympathy for. Maybe because it was a drug crime, and even if he was an accessory after the fact it still irked me. I felt like he still, even at the end of his sentence, believed himself to be better than the men he was serving time with. That somewhat annoyed me, although I realize that he was mostly just scared. 

I love what the two men found in each other despite all their differences... size, background, crimes. I really don't feel like I can delve too deep into the plot of this story because I don't want to give anything away. You really must read it in order to let the layers and the story be built for you. 

This was another book that definitely needed the tissues at the end. I really would love to see a continuation of this book, because quite certainly all the questions were not answered.

Even if you don't like prison setting stories.. TRY this book. It is sooo worth it. ;) 

Also join us here TOMORROW on the blog as I'll be putting up the interview with Mr. Shire as part of his COLD Blog Tour, and Mr. Shire will GENEROUSLY be giving away an ebook copy of COLD.

You can learn more about Brandon's books by visiting his website www.brandonshire.com 

You can follow him on Twitter: @TheBrandonShire 

You can purchase Cold from the following retailers:





As always 10% of profits from his books go to LGBT charities. 

**I was provided a copy of this book in return for an honest review**

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Hop Against Homophobia and Transphobia: Addiction & a Give-Away


Thanks for coming by in honor of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia

At first I was going to tell you about my addiction. How by the time I was 16 years old (deeply in the closet) I was an alcoholic. I was going to talk about how at 24, I had something open my eyes and I chose to stop drinking, on my own with no help. I was going to talk about how instead I punished myself by getting married, and having children. I came out and asked for a divorce when I was 30. I turn 33 in a few months and still haven't successfully achieved the divorce, but we have been separated for over 2 years. I was going to talk about my 8 year struggle to stay sober, but that isn't really what this is about. 

Members of the LGBTQ community are much more likely to abuse substances like drugs and alcohol than our straight counterparts. I feel like this is directly related to non-acceptance, either by friends and family or just by society at large. Addiction is not something that should be a right of passage for our youth. You can be young and have fun and make idiotic decisions without the haze of drugs and alcohol to lead the way. Our kids shouldn't feel like they NEED alcohol and drugs to numb the pain of living, because living INSIDE the addiction isn't living. I promise you this.

It makes me angry sometimes the excuses that I hear people use.. Well, I'm not as bad as I used to be, or I don't drink THAT much. You don't hate me do you? I don't HATE you, I just wish that you could see how amazing you are without a chemical in your system. That you shouldn't have to feel guilty about being different. You shouldn't have to be loaded to be okay. You are beautiful and amazing and perfect just the way you are.

But chemicals aren't the only thing those of us in the the LGBTQ community get addicted to. Sex. Society projects this image of promiscuity specifically in the gay community and we have latched on to it with a fervor that is terrifying. Nameless, faceless, meaningless sex. Don't get me wrong.. I like sex as much as the next person. And that shouldn't have to be a right of passage either. If you are hardwired that way, then awesome and more power to you. But if you aren't and you think that's all there is, that's simply untrue. If what you want is a stable relationship, then being lesbian, gay, trans, bi, whatever... shouldn't be a deterrent to that.

But you have to LOVE you, before anyone else truly can. And honestly I think that is what most addiction boils down to. People that LOVE themselves don't cut, or abuse drugs and alcohol, or use sex as a tool for keeping people from seeing the real you.  The most important relationship you will ever ever have is the one you cultivate with yourself. And it is a relationship like any other. You have to keep nurturing it, because if you don't, you can find yourself in some shitty places.

Did I love myself when I quit using? Probably not. It took me a long time to get there, and some days I'm still struggling both with the addiction and with my own self image. I know that I don't want to see kids struggling with the same things I did. I know that we can only do that by continuing to work towards change, even if it's only one person at a time. I don't have all the answers, or necessarily any of them. I know we have to keep on moving forward. We have to keep speaking out against injustice, and not just injustice perpetrated against us but against everyone. Bad people win when good people do nothing.

Soooo enough of my rambling and onto what you are really here for. The give-away..  I thought long and hard about this and was pretty stumped as what to offer, so I have decided to offer an lgbtq e-book of your choice from Amazon *10$ or under limit please* OR a $10 donation in your name to the Matthew Shepard Foundation. I will randomly draw a winner on 27 May. The winner will be announced on the blog. On our Facebook  and on my Twitter feed (@engineerqueen), I will also email the winners if they haven't responded by May 29th.

To be entered in the giveaway all you have to do is comment below with your email address. :)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Author Post: Regency Romance with Lee Brazil

We welcome Author Lee Brazil to the blog! 

Hey there! Thanks for inviting me over. I'm Lee Brazil, author of mm romances with Breathless Press, Silver Publishing and Evernight Publishing. I usually write contemporary romances, but lately have been bitten by the Regency bug. I think that for all the fun I have exploring a different era, I'm most captivated by the way men remain the same throughout the ages.

Every when that men have lived, sport has prospered and this was no less true in what we often think of as simpler, more elegant times. Imagine a world where men wore silk and velvet, where blowsy shirts and skin tight trousers gave every man a romantic, sensual appeal, where men prided themselves on the fit and style of their clothes, on cutting a dash in society and on the dance floor.

And what did this creature of elegance and style do for entertainment outside the sight of his lady fair?

Why any foolish, bloodthirsty activity that crossed his fancy of course!

The aristocratic gentlemen of the regency make for wonderful, dreamy heroes, but when it came to entertainment, the class lines and elegant manners were dropped and they rubbed elbows with the lower classes with ease and pleasure.

Their tastes in sport weren't much different than those of men today. They enjoyed boxing just as much as the men of modern society. Boxing, fisticuffs, or pugilisms as the sport was known, between two gentlemen was conducted according to quite strict rules.  Professional matches were generally held at inns and were very popular, though aristocrats were most always merely spectators at these events.

 Since they didn't have the technology to indulge via the big screen, when a particularly appealing match was planned, the aristocrats filled the rural inns around the place. Their presence was good for business, as the impression one gets is that such a match generally resulted in partying on the level of what one sees in Fort Lauderdale during Spring Break.

Gathering for a boxing match was also a good excuse to indulge in the other favored vices, drinking, gambling and self-indulgence, but more about those another time!

Fighting between men wasn't the only sport that engaged the nobility and common men alike, either. These fellows would travel just as far to watch a cock fight. Hunting, shooting, fencing, boxing, racing horses or curricles, a gentleman had plenty of opportunity to cut loose and shed some claret.

Boxing skills often came in quite handy outside the sports arena as well, as you'll see in Randall's Romance, when Randall finds himself in a tight spot or two.

Thanks again for letting me ramble, I hope you'll check out my books, or stop by and find me on Facebook.

Randall's Romance by Lee Brazil
Slip into the past to an era of mystery men, danger, and romance, where a chance encounter at a masquerade ball can lead to a lifetime of love. http://www.amazon.com/Randalls-Romance-Behind-Closed-ebook/dp/B00CLHB2F2

An Engagement at the Theater by LB
Having resolved his wardrobe deficiencies to his valet's satisfaction, Gavin leaves Marcus to sort out the ways and means to fulfill the desire their spying in the tailor shop has aroused, while he re-engages with his recent conquest, the not so innocent Bernard.  https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-engagementatthetheater-1185398-145.html

Fifty-Fifty Chances Are by Lee Brazil
"There's a fifty-fifty chance he's lying to me." When the body of an ex-cop is found in the men's room of the Chances Are, Chance and Rory are the prime suspects. Chance knows he didn't do it, but he can't be sure of Rory.  https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-fiftyfiftychancesare-1186708-148.html

Contact Links

Twitter @leebrazil
You Tube http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKmjXLWlO4c2_5ZZQigbeZg?

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Review: The Sky is Dead by Sue Brown

Title: The Sky is Dead
Author: Sue Brown
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Rated: 5/5 hearts 


Danny is young, gay, and homeless. He lives in the park, preferring to avoid attention, but when thugs confront a stranger, Danny rushes to his rescue. He and the would-be victim, Harry, form a cautious friendship that deepens months later, when Harry persuades Danny to visit his home. Daring to believe he has found happiness, Danny finds his world turned upside down yet again when tragedy strikes.

Until he runs out of options, Danny won’t trust anyone. Finally he has to accept the offer of a home, and Danny becomes David, but adjusting to a new life isn't easy. When he meets the mysterious Jack, it stirs up feelings he thought were long gone. Can David dare to allow himself to love? Or will the truth bring his new world tumbling down around him?


The fact is that life for many gay teens is less than ideal. I'm not sure what the statistics are in the UK (where this book was set) but here in the US, up to 40 % of homeless youth identify as LGBT and 7/10 of those youths cite family rejection as the reason for their homeless state. 62% of LGBT homeless youths attempt suicide. Do those numbers frighten you? They do me. 

Homelessness doesn't sound romantic to me. It's a tragic circumstance that many people either find themselves in or choose. So I bought this book with some trepidation. Because I know what young people often have to do to stay alive on the streets. 

Sue Brown tackles this subject with a fearlessness that at times took my breath away. She didn't sugar coat the conditions, or some of the circumstances that such a kid might find themselves it. Danny's trust issues aren't any surprise given the life he'd been handed. He had to fight for everything that he'd gotten, until he met Harry. A kid that had a huge heart, and together they began forming a happiness of sorts. Then the unthinkable happens and Harry slips out of Danny's life. 

When circumstances back Danny into a corner, he find himself forced to take a helping hand and he begins a new life, as David. Enter Jack... There are some definite plot twists in there that you really just have to read about. This is an amazing story about a young man's determination to live despite the odds stacked against him. It's a story about how love can find us in the strangest circumstances. It's also a story about how a few people can make a huge difference, even if it's only one person at a time. 

Sue Brown is a brilliant storyteller. She is always on my to buy list, and hopefully she'll make it onto yours. I would also like to point out that royalties from the sale of this book will be going to the Albert Kennedy Trust. That makes an amazing book even more awesome. :)

If you wish to purchase The Sky is Dead you may do so through