#BookReview – The Otto Digmore Difference by Brent Hartinger @brenthartinger #MMLITERATURE #MMFRIENDSHIP

Rating: 5.0 stars

BLURB

Otto Digmore is a 26-year-old gay guy with dreams of being a successful actor, and he’s finally getting some attention as a result of his supporting role on a struggling sitcom. But he’s also a burn survivor with scars on half his face, and all indications are that he’s just too different to ever find real Hollywood success.

Now he’s up for an amazing new role that could change everything. Problem is, he and his best friend Russel Middlebrook have to drive all the way across the country in order to get to the audition on time.

It’s hard to say which is worse: the fact that so many things go wrong, or that Russel, an aspiring screenwriter, keeps comparing their experiences to some kind of road trip movie.

There’s also the fact that Otto and Russel were once boyfriends, and Otto is starting to realize that he might still have romantic feelings for his best friend.

Just how far will Otto go to get the role, and maybe the guy, of his dreams?

The Otto Digmore Difference

When Mr. Hartinger offered me the ARC of the first book in a new series I was first totally dumbfounded and then completely flattered. I mean, Brent Freakin’ Hartinger?! Hell, yes I was accepting his ARC! Of course, I thought it was a Young Adult book, but hey Brent Hartinger! Boy, was I wrong. What I got was nothing short of true Gay Literature. An engrossing, excellently written, at times poignant and at times funny story of a very important time in gay men’s lives.

As a gay man there comes a time in our lives, usually in our 20’s, when our lives become defined. We are old enough and mature enough at this phase in our lives to form those first bonds of our extended families – the family we create for ourselves, not the inherited family that doesn’t necessarily get what our lives are. It is at this crucial juncture that the lifetime bonds are created with friends, oftentimes ex-boyfriends and their new mates and sometimes with completely new acquaintances. That is what this book is about. Oh, and yes, there is romance. The romance and love of a longtime friend that continues to love deeply, and that unexpected romance that comes out of the blue, like a bolt of lightning, that smacks us silly.

THE CHARACTERS

Otto Digmore:

I turn and look out the window, but the lights are still on inside the plane, so all I see is the reflection of the First Class cabin in the clear plastic. I also see my face — the whole right side. It’s covered with scars. In some places, it looks a little bit like my face is melting. This is the other reason the businessman was staring at me. The good news is that I still have both my eyebrows. I have more scars too. They run down onto my shoulder and chest, hidden by my clothes, and also up under my hairline. Most of my hair is real, but one small part of it isn’t — it’s a hairpiece that’s woven into my actual hair. It was really expensive, and it has to be adjusted every three weeks, but it looks real. Not even my friend Russel knows about it.

Russel Middlebrook:

When Russel opens the door to his apartment, I’m about to tell him what a great time I had at his wedding. But before I can speak, he says, “What is it? What’s wrong?” Russel has dark red hair and the lightest smattering of freckles on his nose, but right now his brow is wrinkled with concern. He sees something on my face. I go inside and take a seat. Russel and Kevin aren’t rich — Russel’s a screenwriter, a really good one, but hasn’t sold anything yet, so he makes his living as a barista. Kevin is an editor at IMDb.com. And so their apartment is pretty modest compared to mine: a saggy couch, cluttered shelves. I can’t help but notice that it smells lived in, unlike mine. It’s nice, musky, a little lemony — like two handsome men.

Greg – Fiona’s assistant:

Inside her waiting room, I find Greg, her assistant, sitting at his desk. He’s this Native guy, big and tall, with a ponytail and a Los Angeles Rams jersey. Greg is another way Fiona isn’t like most other agents, because most of their assistants all look exactly the same, in pressed white shirts flashing creepy robot smiles. “You’re here!” he says, beaming. For some reason, it doesn’t seem like a big guy like Greg should be giddy, but he usually is — today maybe even more than usual.

THE STORY

This was such an engrossing story that I literally couldn’t put it down. I was eager to get back to it as soon as I could whenever I had to put it down. Otto’s story, in and of itself, isn’t quite as unique as it may seem. Yes, he has a physical disfigurement due to a childhood accident when he was playing super hero and ended up burning himself, but this just means that his scars are visible on the outside instead of inside, mostly.

At an early age, Otto discovers his love for acting, for becoming that special character, wholly and completely, and bringing it to life, so he pursues his dream even with his physical scars. He ends up going to Hollywood and meeting Fiona, his agent who totally believed in him and his potential and she gets him a role in a television series, Hammered, unfortunately the series is cancelled.

As he zeroes in on a new role, a part in a major studio film, the story becomes the quintessential road trip story with Otto surrounded my those that love him, truly love him: Russel and Greg and Kevin. Can Otto look beyond his own self-centeredness, a condition that afflicts us all, and see love for what it truly is? And can he give the one man who falls in love with him that one chance? I think you’ll be really taken by this story, and a masterful story it is.

THE WRITING

The writing is impeccable. Clean, crisp, witty, the story rolls out smoothly with no hiccups and double takes. Mr. Hartinger has a clear style that is not florid or overdone, instead it is refreshing, crisp and enticing. In a tongue in cheek manner Mr. Hartinger takes on the famous road trip story with its bits of comedy and emotion coming through at the end with the inevitable realization. Bravo.

THE AUTHOR

Brent Hartinger is an author and screenwriter. He wrote the YA classic, Geography Club (2003), which was adapted as a 2013 feature film co-starring Scott Bakula, and is now being developed as a television series. He’s since published twelve more novels and had eight of his screenplays optioned by producers. He has won both the Lambda and GLAAD Media Award, and been nominated for the Edgar Award. Visit him at brenthartinger.com.

THE DISCLAIMER

I would like to thank Mr. Brent Hartinger for providing OJ He Say! with a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

The Otto Digmore Difference
Copyright © 2017 Brent Hartinger

Keep in touch OJ He Say!

#BookReview – When It All Falls Down @tanyachrs #MMROMANCE #COMINGOFAGE

When It All Falls Down

Rating: 5.0 stars

BLURB

 Maybe Charlie should have waited until he graduated high school before coming out, because since that revelation there’s been a growing distance between him and his friends. Charlie’s tough, though. He doesn’t mind eating lunch alone or watching his former gang interact with their new best buddy. What he does mind is seeing Drew Lavoitt suffer the same fate.

Drew didn’t come out. As far as he, or anyone else knows, he’s straight. What Drew did is accidentally hit and kill a little girl. Now the boy who was voted Most Popular, and who Charlie has maybe had a crush on since eighth grade, faces financial ruin, expulsion, and the fear that if he’s not everything, he’s not enough.

Popularity, wealth, acclaim—these things are easily lost. In each other’s arms, Drew and Charlie find something that can’t be taken from them. Together the two build a foundation on which they can re-create their lives.

WHEN IT ALL FALLS DOWN

So… you’re thinking a YA book, right? Well yes, and it’s so, so much more. In reality this is a coming of age story more than a YA book, and in that it excels brilliantly! I didn’t know I needed a good, well written, gay coming of age story until I read When It All Falls Down. I was absorbed into the story and I could not put it down. What a sweet/bittersweet/enlightening story this is. Trust me, this is a great read, told well.

THE CHARACTERS

Andrew ‘Drew’ Lavoitt:

 Andrew Lavoitt was never meant to be an island. He was the most popular boy in our graduating class after all. Literally. In our yearbook, fresh off the presses last week, there was a photo labelled Most Popular Boy, and the photo was of Andrew Lavoitt—lacquered dark brown hair and wide, dark brown eyes, dressed in a lime green polo and over-dyed skinny jeans, sporting a grin so sincere it didn’t make you want to smack it off his face, not even with the label “Most Popular” hanging over his head.

 Charlie ‘Chaz’ Steger:

 “Hair wants to be free,” I joked. I pushed back my own hair which hung straight, falling down to my shoulders. Most days I tied it up because the fine blond strands got everywhere… My dad didn’t bug me about my hair, but he bugged me about plenty. I’d never gone full Emo or Goth but I preferred the dark look—studded belt, heavy boots, a little black nail polish for special occasions. My dad’s objection was that I was stereotyping myself, that I was too cliché, but you gotta find a place to fit in somewhere. I might be smart and into computers and math, but I wasn’t doing the button-up geek thing full-on any more than I was the Emo/Goth thing. A healthy mix, right?

 THE STORY

When It All Falls Down is a wonderful, enjoyable MM coming of age story, brought up to 21st Century standards and it excels in its delivery and execution.

The story of Drew, voted most popular boy in his class and now a social pariah due to a horrible accident that cost a little girl her life, and Chaz, geek extraordinaire that comes out to his close circle of friends only to be shunned by them, is completely riveting as an updated, gay version of The Breakfast Club.

As Chaz and Drew draw each other out of their somewhat self-imposed shells, we witness what we’ve all gone through as they come into their own selves along with their friends and school mates. The sense of wonderment and discovery, uncertainties and apprehensions, joys and fears in this book is simply, wonderfully brilliant in their honesty and delivery.

THE WRITING

Ms. Chris’ writing is uncomplicated, unhurried and extremely enjoyable. The story flows smoothly and grabbed me and hugged me so I couldn’t let go, couldn’t put this book down. I must give a nod to the editing in this book. Fantastic editing, well done.

One personal note: The book cover is so spot on that it’s freaky! I rarely comment on the covers, however this one couldn’t be more of a snapshot if it tried. It rocks!

THE AUTHOR

 Tanya writes in a variety of romantic and erotic genres, being an avid follower of many of these genres herself. Some of her favorites are M/M romance, MFM threesomes, and BDSM with male submissives.

Tanya lives in New England with her boyfriend and her cat and has participated in many of the activities about which she writes, but not all of them. It’s left to the reader to decide which are which.

You may reach Ms. Chris at:

Tanya Chris Website

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

 THE DISCLAIMER

I would like to thank Ms. Tanya Chris for providing OJ He Say! with a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

Copyright © 2016 by Tanya Chris (www.tanyachris.com)

ISBN: 978-1541016644

Keep in touch OJ He Say!

#BookReview – Man & Monster by Michael Jensen @michaelgjensen #MMROMANCE #MMHISTORICAL

Man & Monster

Rating: 5.0 stars

BLURB

A monster stalks the ancient forests…

It’s 1799, and Cole Seavey is a trapper running from a guilty past, seeking refuge on the vast American frontier. Lost in a raging storm, he finds himself face to face with a terrifying, otherworldly creature that seems to have emerged from a nightmare.

Cole is saved from certain death by a handsome Delaware Indian named Pakim. Together they learn that the monster is the fearsome Wendigo from native legends: a creature with a heart of ice, drawn to the evil of men.

Soon the Wendigo is terrorizing the frontier — settler and Indian alike — and Cole and Pakim join to defeat the mysterious monster. In the process, Cole finds himself falling for the strapping brave and the promise of a new life together.

Unfortunately, the legends say that the Wendigo can only be killed by another creature with a heart of ice. But how can Cole hope to defeat the monster if it means denying the love he’s finally allowed himself to feel?

MAN & MONSTER

After reading Man & Beast I knew I’d come across an author that would join my list of go to authors. Now after reading Man & Monster there is no doubt in my mind that Mr. Jensen is one of a few, a rare breed of author, with an incredible story telling ability.

His ability to so eloquently tell the story of what gay people went through in those strange, unique years at the beginning of the European colonization of America is just a beauty to experience via his prose. The characters are so well developed, so rich in their complete humanness whether evil or benign, that to be able to feel the experiences of the men and women of different ethnicities with all the underlying prejudices of the time and to be able to bring that to life as he does is something wonderful to experience.

I cannot wait for more of this series as I am now invested in this story.

CHARACTERS

Cole ‘Cold Blooded Cole’ Seavy:

My already thin face was even leaner and when not bound with a leather thong, my black hair hung down to my shoulders. My eyes tended toward a brown so dark as to be black in certain lights — or, I was told, in certain moods. My face was always tanned from being out-a-doors, yet showed a goodly number of freckles scattered over my nose and cheeks. I was rather darkly complected to have so many freckles, but it was a Seavey trait shared by all the men in my family. Handsome was a word I had heard frequently to describe myself, though, frankly, I couldn’t see it.

Pakim:

He slowly rose, facing me. He was perhaps ten years older than me, though I couldn’t be sure. An enormous bearskin hung from his shoulders, but his arms were bare. Several feathers adorned his black hair, which was pulled back into a ponytail. Despite my wandering mind, or perhaps because of it, I thought the Indian had the most appealing face I had ever seen on a man… The brave was taller than I and possessed broad shoulders that his hair would just touch when unbound. His skin was nut-brown — not red as implied by the slur “redskin” — and his face was clear and smooth, untouched by the pox. A small tattoo of a turtle lay upon his right cheek, but most striking were his black eyes that, despite their color, seemed warm and inviting.

STORY

Cole Seavey leaves his home in Virginia under the not totally untrue guise of going to find his no-good brother, Gerard. In truth, he’s running away from the fiancé whom he does not want to marry. Cole has never felt attracted to women in the sense that he sees other men attracted to them, so off to the new frontier of the Ohio River Valley. On his way through the high plains he encounters a fierce storm. It is during this storm that he stumbles upon a seriously injured girl and the creature that is hunting her, a Wendigo. Badly injured after his encounter with the fantastical creature, he literally stumbles into Pakim and collapses. It is Pakim that takes him to John and Palmer’s new home.

It is against this backdrop that we’re treated to a riveting story of blooming love between two men, one of which is just becoming aware of what his feelings really mean, and survival in a new frontier, painted against the backdrop of the prejudice, avarice, and malevolence of the era.

WRITING

This is some of the best writing I have come across, right up with some of the other authors that are my go to authors. The prose flows freely, smoothly, effortlessly, allowing the reader to simply immerse his/herself in the story. It truly becomes a completely immersive experience. I was actually there with Cole and Pakim, John and Palmer and Gwennie and the other so exquisitely developed characters. I really must warn you: this writing is highly addictive!

I don’t do spoilers and yet I must say I was treated to one of most unique and sensually erotic love scenes I’ve ever read. The whole scene at the pima’kan sweat lodge ceremony is one of the most masculinely sensual I’ve ever read. Yeah, I was sweating afterwards.

This the kind of writing that takes one beyond to the next level of reading experience.

 AUTHOR

Michael Jensen
 Michael Jensen is an author and editor. His books of gay historical fiction include two series, The Drowning World, which is set in 5500 B.C., and The Savage Land, which takes place on the American frontier. Man & Monster, the second book in The Savage Land series, was a Lambda Award Finalist (under the title Firelands).

Michael is also the co-founder of AfterElton.com, which covered pop culture for gay and bisexual men, and eventually become one of the largest and most influential LGBT websites on the internet. In 2006, AfterElton.com was sold to MTV/Viacom in a multimillion dollar deal. As editor, Michael interviewed hundreds of writers, directors, and actors, breaking numerous stories and advancing the issue of LGBT visibility in Hollywood.

Michael lives in Seattle, WA with his husband, writer Brent Hartinger.

You can contact Michael via email at michaeljensenwriter@gmail.com, Facebook, Twitter, or you can connect with him through Goodreads.

THE DISCLAIMER

 I would like to thank Michael Jensen and BK Books for providing OJ He Say! reviews with an advance review copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

Copyright © 2017 Michael Jensen
BK Books
PO Box 30542
Seattle WA 98113
www.michaeljensen.com
Cover design by Damonza.com
ISBN 9781370947263

Keep in touch OJ He Say!