Review: Too Invisible by DebsTheSlytherinSnapeFan

Other Reviewers: Goodreads

About 5 years ago I found the webpage Archive of Our Own and found the world of fanfiction.   There are those fan fictions that really feel more like porn with plot, and there are others that take the original world and build an even more varied and elaborate world.  One such amazing writer is DebsTheSlytherinSnapeFan.

She has finished 5 full-length novels there and there are many that I still have bookmarked and refresh the page every day to see if there are any updates.  In a time where you think that “every possible trope and Harry Potter storyline” has been explored, she manages to provide original content.  I have actually begged her to write original work — she’s that good.

Basic Plot:
Harry Potter is the twin of the “Boy-Who-Lived”, Nick Potter.  Pushed into the corner of his family, Harry learns that he is invisible to his family and struggles to find his own indignity and future.  He finds his passion — potions and finds another family through a chosen family made of friends and advisors.  As the threat of Tom Riddle appears again, will he be able to avoid destiny and find his own path?


Much of the Harry Potter we see in cannon and other fictions is bashed on his experience in the Dursley’s household.  His stature and need of approval and “rescue” is one that sets him up as gullible and susceptible to the machinations of Dumbledore.  But in this version, we see an independent Harry, one that thinks for himself from the very beginning.  Yes, there is a level of abandonment, but we have someone who has the strength of character to believe in himself.


By the time Harry and Nick were three, Harry had learned to do what few other children at the tender age of three should have had to do: he had learned to look after himself, bathe himself, and look after what toys he had.  He could, and did, read the books their parents had gotten Nick, who didn’t read them if he could help it.  Harry hid them under his bed so nobody could take away from him.

Harry learns at an early age to rely only on himself, adult will always let him down.

Severus Snape:

Early in on this novel, we only see Severus as an instructor and mentor.  This is not a novel that deals with under-age romance, so never fear about that.  This version of Severus is one that while, still made a poor choice as a youth, he has the love of his mother.  We can see in those story, that Severus having that positive influence, keeps him from being the bully he becomes in the novels.

He was startled when he read the register and realized Harry Potter was in his class. Looking for the boy as he called his name for roll-call, he found him in the corner of the room, ready to take notes after having written down the potion’s instructions.  Severus kept an eye on the boy all through the note-taking after roll-call, and right into the brewing after that.  The younger Potter twin was brewing his potion with a patience he had only known himself to show for the subject, but was still not sure what to think of the boy.

Severus learns how to be a mentor first, and then as the years pass, he finds he admires the man Harry has become.  As the world around them falls apart they learn to trust and lean on each other.

Theme Summary:

The biggest theme that I get out of this is that your past and family does not define who you are and can be.  If you have a rough childhood, instead of letting it control your future, learn from your pain a grow stronger.  Both Severus and Harry learn that their past does not define them.

Yes, life despite its tremulous start, had been very good to him in later life, he wouldn’t trade it for anything.  He wasn’t invisible anymore…he was loved.

Strong Points:

One of the strength of novel is the ability the author has in building a world.  The way she adds the layers of the potion world (not see in the movies) is fantastic and keeps it from being like every other Harry Potter fan fiction.

What could be better?


Because there is no editor, there are times within the 580,840 words that a good editing could move the story along.  There are some grammar issues as well, not enough to harm my enjoyment, but enough to know that this is not a professional book.  Considering that she is doing this for the love of writing, I certainly am not complaining.


This is a Harry Potter fan fiction that have on repeat.  If I feel the need to immerse myself into a world for hours at a time, this is my go-to book.  And I can say that any of her work should be considered the height of Harry Potter fan fiction.


Review: Too Stupid to Live — by Anne Tenino

toostupidtoliveOther Reviewers: Goodreads

I fell in love with Anne Tenino’s writing when I read Frat Boy and Toppy. The combination of humor, depth, and Dominance/submission was just captivating. I always found the characters relatable and the story-lines funny and entertaining. Too Stupid to Live certainly hits the mark.

Basic Plot:
This story is about a man named Sam who while working for his MFA in writing runs into love on the soccer field.  Ian finally breaks out of the closet and discovers the man he wants to be is a far cry from who he was.  He meets Sam who intrigued him, although Sam is nothing like his type.  Can these two odd individuals make a couple?


Sam is someone that we can all connect with, and this Sam should be the most relatable because of his love of reading romance.  As romance readers, we get the character’s perspective and throughout the story he speaks of the typical points of a romance like the TGH (Tortured Gothic Hero) and Main Characters One and Two.  What is charming about Sam is that he is the heart of the story containing a light-hearted humorous tone.  We see this early on in the story:

“Commitment issues. He’d use you, Sam.  He’ll force himself to find some suitable woman and start producing children any year now, and he’ll still be fucking guys on the side.”

Sam gaped.  “Seriously?”

Jurgen rolled his eyes.  “Probably not,” he admitted, then made a face like he’d licked a toad.  “But he might.  I’ve seen  him try to do it before.  And if he does, you don’t want to be his convenient fuck on the side.”

Reformed rakes make the best husbands.  Sam managed to stop himself from blurting that out.

As a romance reader we all want to have our love story to follow the typical format, but life rarely comes out like books, eh?

Ian Cully:

At first, Ian comes off as an asshole, especially to Sam.  He is arrogant and harsh, and we come to understand that as Ian matures from his closeted life he comes to trust his instincts.  We see that Sam’s gentle influence begins to open Ian up early in the relationship:

Besides, in tortured, gothic romances it took the hero way longer than this to give in to his heart’s desires and kiss the heroine.  Therefore, Ian couldn’t be that type of character;  Sam’s proof was in the way Ian’s thumb started slowly stroking his chest, smoothing and pulling the fabric of his shirt across his sensitive skin.  He was totally giving in to his urges,  just not the ones involving his lips.

I think Ian becomes my favorite character in this book because of the level of development we get in his character.  We understand his perspective, having hid his sexuality, then denying it, and finally to have his family not accept it.  He makes the decision to be true to his inner self and makes a life changing decision.  Sexuality is something so tightly tied to our spirit, that to deny any aspect of it takes a toll.  We see in Ian a person who finally gets that final straw when he is injured on the job as a Firefighter.

Theme Summary:

The biggest concept I got out of this novel was that life is about change and evolving.  Who we were when we were 18 is not the same thing as when we are 25 or even 40.  Life and the events that make life changes us.  You either transform or wither away into a lesser form of yourself.  Some of the best writing and evolving we see in Too Stupid to Live is between Ian and his therapist Janet:

Janet was silent until he got his breathing under control and turned to her, barely able to meet her eyes.

“Ian, what you were before doesn’t have to define what you are now, or what you will be in the future.”

So, while this book is a light-hearted story, we can still get a meaningful read out of it.

Strong Points:

One of the strength of this author is her voice, through the humorous dialogue and prose.  This is some dialogue between Sam and Nik, a great secondary character:


“Can you talk?”  Nik hissed in his ear.

Huh?  “Mom says I started right after my first birthday.  I pretty much have it down pat by now.”

Nik continued in a hushed voice, “Shut up. Ian didn’t stay?”

Same sat up.  “How did you know about Ian?”

“I knew something happened last night!  Tell.”

I also enjoyed the sex scenes, while explicit I felt that they helped to move the plot forward rather than replacing it. I always love it when the characters experiment with more than vanilla in tone and this one was done with a sense of humor.

What could be better?

There is very little to the novel that I did not like.  But I did find the “British” tone confusing at times.  The book takes place in the United States, but I can not help but feel that at time a British tone.  In the beginning of the book where Ian meets Sam is on the soccer field.  While, it does not mean we have no soccer in America, “football” is more common over seas.  Other times it was just word choices like those I have read in other novels from British authors.

This switch from American and British was distracting at time and I would have thought that the author was English writing about Americans if I did not know better.  I wonder if it was just a continuation of the Laird feel that the author was portraying with the plot-line and tone.


Sometimes when you pick a book to read, it might be because of the tone, the author, or the cover.  And sometimes it is a combination.  I found this book because I am familiar with Tenino and then the cover caught my eye.  But I continued to read the book because of the story and the characters.  The combination of humor, sexy writing, and artful story writing makes for an enjoyable read.


Review: Queers — by AJ Rose

QueersOther Reviewers: Goodreads

This is an advance reader copy given to me by the author for an honest review.  As with all of my review, these are my own opinions.

I have loved AJ Rose’s writing, starting with the amazing Power Exchange.  Back in November 2012, I wrote a review and gave it 5 Stars.  What I loved about it was the strong theme, and the great depth in character development.  It was more than just a romance book, but more like message about self-discovery and being truthful to one’s self.

So, when I was given the opportunity to read Queers, I was both excited as well as nervous.  What happens if I didn’t like this book as much?  Based on the cover and the back of the book, it is nothing like the other series.  But finally, I said, “the heck with it”, and started reading.

Basic Plot:

Duff McKinley is a singer on his way to the big show, well, as soon as he is discovered that is.  His first break is landing a job at Brad Mosely’s bar/club called Queers.  Will this turn out to be a once in a life-time for his career and love life, or will he be stuck with settling?

Garrett Slater is Duff’s best friend, and he moved across the country to support him.  But now is Garrett’s time to shine as he finds Mr Right in the form of Landon Kennedy.  Yet, as Garrett drifts away from his friends like Jackson Moriarty, is he wasting is chance for happiness and true-love or living his dream?


There is  a lot going on in this book.  There are two “main” love stories here, both are explored fully; we see Duff and Brad’s story first and then Garrett, Landon, and Jackson’s stories are folded into it.

I have not read many of the other reviews on Goodreads about Queers.  I noticed that the range was wide on this one, some readers giving 1 stars with just as many giving 5.  I decided not to read much until after I had finished the book primarily to keep the influence down to a minimum.

I think that two things might have swayed the readers to the lower:  the complex story lines here and the domestic violence.  I will discuss both further in my review, but I believe that was the gist of what their issues were.

Duff McKinley & Brad Mosely:

This is the easy couple to talk about.  Duff is the first person introduced to and I was enchanted from the start.  He is a dedicated and talented singer who landed in LA to “Make it big.”  Now he is ready to make that break into contract-land and needs the job at Queers to get there.  We see into Duff very quickly:

This never gets easier, he thought, approaching the bartender, his back ramrod straight as he faked confidence in an effort to convince both himself and her.

We can easily identify with Duff.  Who hasn’t applied for a job and then was terrified that we wouldn’t get it?  When we meet Brad, we can tell that there is more going on then just his cranky demeanor.

“Pep talk time.  Don’t be afraid of Brad.  He’s a fantastic guy, a lot of fun if you get to know him, and he’s nowhere near as sour as he seems at first.  He’s very loyal, but you have to earn it.”

There’s much to say about Brad, but I do not want to spoil his back story.  Suffice it to say, he has a past love that still causes him pain and he has not moved on yet.  It isn’t until he meets Duff that he realizes it might be time to return.

Garrett Slater / Landon Kennedy / Jackson Moriarty:

This is the complex side of the book, full of angst.  Garrett is Duff’s best friend, really more of a brother.  He is also always been “Out”, not because of choice but rather because his sexuality was difficult to hide in the first place.  This builds a character who is more of free spirit, rolling with the punches rather than hiding or being careful.  It is this nature that attracts Landon and the trouble that follows.  We see Landon’s charm as they meet for the first time:

Landon slowly, deliberately drew him closer until their bodies were pressed together.  Garrett’s breath caught as the man’s warmth and expensive cologne enveloped him.

“I’ll temporarily let you go,” Landon said softly, commandingly.  “But expect my call.”

Jackson is another one of the best friends, a nurse who has loved Garrett from afar.  Unfortunately, Garrett doesn’t believe he is serious about trying to date.  Jackson’s known more as the “slut” in the past, and this stereotype doesn’t help him now.  As he sees Garrett withdrawing more and more of himself in the relationship with Landon he fears for Garrett.

Theme Summary:

At first, I thought I had the theme at 15% of the way through the book.  But what I realized was that it really fed into what I consider the “main theme”.  Moonshine tells Brad something early on in the book:

“You’ve been going through the motions so long, you’ve forgotten how to react to good feelings.  The numbness is wearing off, and I bet it’s fucking weird.”

For Brad, this is about his previous boyfriend.  For Duff, he put his career on hold while he finished his backup degree.  Garrett moved across the country to support his friend Duff and his photography is less about his creativity and more about working for something else.  Jackson is in love with someone who may never see the true him.

And then at 75%, I found the profound theme I was hoping I would find:

“”Death is not fair,”” Duff parroted her words from the police station alley.

Neither is life, but I do what I can to make it fair.”

Life has given pain to every one of our characters and that pain and experience has the ability to stop their dreams and relationships from being fruitful.  However, it is by moving forward through the fires that these characters are reborn into the stronger characters they are by the end of the novel.  They learn the lesson that while friends can help, they ultimately must commit to make the changes to help themselves.

Strong Points:

AJ’s strength is in his descriptions and writing.  I am always pulled straight into the story, and this is no exception:

What didn’t quite fit in was the girl behind the bar, looking more appropriate for a leather club than a dueling piano bar.  Perhaps it was her influence that gave Queers its snap, as if it was closely thumbing its nose at pretension.

It is not just the main character that gets development, but also secondary characters like Moonshine and  Jennica.  In fact, I see Moonshine as the embodiment of the theme and our greek chorus.

What could be better?

If you glance through the reviews on Goodreads for Queers, you will see warnings about triggers.  Remember when I said that AJ’s strength was in his writing?  Well, that also goes into the descriptions of abuse that one character goes through.  So, I give the warning, if you have suffered from domestic abuse, this might be a trigger.

I will be honest, domestic violence is a trigger for me, so there were several scenes where I had to skim through.  I do believe that it needed to be said to advance the plot and the characters, but it is painful to read.

I will also say that the end did feel a bit like the magical fairy came through and tied up all of the loose endings; but after all of the angst and pain I was ready for a HEA.


This was a compelling read, one that I am very glad I experienced.  Do not be put off by the silliness of the cover, it is a serious read.  There are powerful emotions throughout, so be prepared to cry and cheer as our boys overcome their trials.

The message is one that I think we all could use.  Family is not always blood, but certainly our friends can be the support that we need to survive.  And when we fall down, they will be there to help us up.  While they will encourage us to do better, ultimately it is up to make changes in our lives.

AJ Rose is a brilliant author.  He always infuses his stories with powerful messages, like little kernels of truth and insight in hope that we will take the time to uncover.   If you are currently in an abusive relationship, remember that you can always leave.  You have family, friends, and outside support that will help, but you have to be the one to make the move for help.  This book certainly made me appreciate the support of my friends and my husband.  I have been very blessed; thank you AJ Rose for helping me to remember this truth.


Review: Training Complex by Leta Blake

Other Reviewers: Goodreads

For full disclosure this book was given to me for an honest review by the author.

Basic Plot:

Book two of the series sees Matty Marcus (former ice skater, now coach), struggling to find work and his identity as he works on building his relationship with his partner, Rob.  But as his stress mounts, so does his personal issues as it affects his personal and professional life.  Can Matty find a safe space to accept himself or will he burn out?


This is a book two in a series called Training Season, as it follows Matty’s career and life.  My original review of book one is here, in which I gave it a 5 star review.  I found the BDSM realistic, intense, and Matty’s character was honestly flawed which is unusual to see is what we call “romance” today.

I have loved every book that Leta Blake has written, but I admit that this is the first time that I could not finish her book.  I think that I was just not the target audience for this continuation.  Matty’s character was just too dark and too troubled for me to enjoy his story.  Each chapter that I read (about 30%) just was one more illness, one more problem, and unlike the first book, there was no “new relationship” to break up the depression.


From reading Goodreads reviews, I am in the minority here, most folks loved this book!  So, I think that if you loved the first one, then give this one a try.  Just keep in mind that this book is more complex and darker than the first and most other male/male romances out there.



Quickie: Bonded 2 by Sara York

Bonded_2Other Reviewers: Goodreads

Page count: 203

This is an advance reader copy given to me by the author for an honest review.  As with all of my review, these are my own opinions.

Basic Plot:

Liam flies home to Mississippi to go to his grandmother’s funeral, only to have his parents commit him against his will for gay conversion.  Liam’s partners rush to his rescue bringing in their FBI from Sam Graves.

How will they save Liam and shut down this conversion operation and save others as Sam finds his own love.


This book is really a set of two relationships all revolving around the kidnapping of Liam.  This is book two in the Bound in Love series.  The relationship of Liam, Chris, and Greg is developed in book one, so don’t expect a lot of relationship development here.  What we get in this book for development lies within how Greg and Chris physically and emotionally support Liam through the legal processes.

While this plot continues on, we also get a new relationship flourish with Sam and Hudson.  There is a little mystery behind their relationship that should not be spoiled here.  We do get to see the beginning of a BDSM relationship here.

Strong Points:

  • Drama:  We got to see a lot of exciting drama in a short book of 203 pages.  There is a ton of sex and a lot of external conflict to keep the pace fast.

What Could be Better:

  • Too Much Sex:  This is a short book at 203 pages.  So to have so many sex scenes in BOTH sets of relationships made me start skimming.
  • Too Many Relationships: This goes with the “Too Much Sex”.   This felt like at the end of the first book the author had just a bit of relationship development to go, so York added the secondary relationship as filler.  So I had no committment to Sam and Hudson’s relationship.
  • Too Fast into BDSM: I know that in the gay leather community, sex and relationships can move very quickly, so to some degree Sam and Hudson was very believable.  But the Sounding that quickly in a relationship?  As far as we know, they have not played together, they have no mutual friends within the community to vouch.  That does not seem very safe or sane to me.
  • Does this really happen, even in the south?  Listen, I understand that gay conversion is a thing, and I can agree that living in the south gay bashing and religious persecution happens.  But I doubt that ADULTS are committed that quickly with the AID of police officers and an entire division.  It was laughable and an insult to southerners to stereotype them like this.  If the author wanted to talk about this very real gay conversion issue, then they should have made it more realistic.


We had the happy ever after that I wanted when I started to work.  Getting to see Liam, Chris, and Greg again was great.  But I would have really rather have spent some time learning about Sam and Hudson if they were going to be characters I was supposed to care about.

But this book felt more like a gay soap-opera rather than any hard-hitting crime drama.  So, if you are interested in shallow sex and action with a happy ending, then this is for you.



Why Depression Controls Your Reading List



I know for the past year my book reviews have been slower.  Part of that reason is that I have gotten more author requests and I have been reading more fan-fiction.  Having more authors requesting a review is a great opportunity!  However, at the same time, I felt like my review posts became more job-like and less reading things that I wanted to read.

I first want to say that I love getting those books.  But my free time started becoming more dictated.  I wanted to write more reviews on the fan-fiction I was reading, but there never seemed to be enough time because of the requests.

But, over-riding both of these influences, is my mind-frame.  For the past 6 months I have been struggling with depression.  I usually do have seasonal issues, but this time it has struck during the summer.  The thought of doing anything other than work, cook dinner (not doing that with my normal passion), and then into the bed was just overwhelming.  And the weekends I had to go to enforced family outings, which I did not want to do made me want to hide back into my room when I got home.

So, that means that all of these wonderful authors who have given me book reviews are like planes in the air waiting for the all clear to land.  But the pressure becomes so much to get them down that nothing does get done!

In August I was able to get a bit back into the flow, but I have 4 more in the landing pattern.

And then something happened at home a couple of weeks ago.  We have been fostering a third cat at the house, and there has been some turf war, so tons of cat peeing everywhere, cats fighting, stealing food, means my original cat has been depressed and grumpy.  Well, we were able to find a new home for the new cat and suddenly Jiji started to feel better.  And when Jiji felt better, I started to move around as well.  For the past two weeks I have been eating better, exercising, and this weekend I have actually been cleaning the house and rearranging furniture!

So, this is just an apology to all of those authors out there who are waiting for reviews.  I am getting back into the swing of things now and next weekend I will review Leta Blake’s Training Complex.  I have not forgotten you guys and I appreciate all of the  opportunities to give you guys my interpretations!




Review: Spell Bound — by Jacob Z. Flores

Spell_BoundOther Reviewers: Goodreads

This is an advance reader copy given to me by the author for an honest review.  As with all of my review, these are my own opinions.

Basic Plot:

Mason Blackmoor is a Warlock — who has difficulty with his magic.  His lack of skill is a family joke and Mason feels powerless.  Now there seems to be a new evil in town, and Mason feels even more powerless.

Drake Carpenter is new into town.  He and Mason have immediate chemistry — but is it hate or passion?  As they fight the evil, will their love be allowed to catch fire?


I have previously reviewed a Jacob Z. Flores novel, Please Remember Me.  However, Spell Bound is the first book in a new series by the author called The Warlock Brothers of Havenbridge.

This book reminds me of the male/male sub-genre wizard of series under 200 pages.  These are series that focus on a group of individuals, with lots of  insta-mate sex scenes, groups fighting within the society, a big evil that is defeated right at the end, and character development that is plot driven.  Some series are:  A Wizard’s Touch (Amber Kell), The Aloysius Tales (Tara Lain), Dominion (Lissa Kasey), Triad (Poppy Dennison), and Superpowered Love (Katey Hawthorne).

Because of the abbreviated nature of this sub-genre, I do not expect a lot of character development or world building.  I expected that there would be a large portion of this novel that was plot powered and more “tell me” than “show me”.

Mason Blackmoor:

The introduction of our main character, Mason Blackmoor leads the reader to immediately dislike him.

“Can’t, Busy,” I mumbled as I walked by, and I wasn’t even lying this time.  This was going to be a crazy, magical weekend, and my family had a lot to do.  And even if we weren’t all gathering for an important ritual, Laura and her slutty friends weren’t for me.

My type tended to have lean muscles, a firm bubble butt, and a nice cock.  Now someone like that would have my complete and undivided attention.

This description is supposed to make the reader immediately understand that Mason is gay and he is somehow in a magical world as opposed to the muggle.  But I read this as saying that Mason is a hypocritically critical of Laura’s sexual promiscuity, yet Mason likes fit boys and is a size queen.

If I had not had to read this for an advanced reader’s copy, I probably would have not finished this because of our character introduction.

Drake Carpenter:

Because this is first person (this seems to be the preferred method of the author), we do not learn much about Drake’s perspective.  We know that he has some some emotional trauma with the death of his family and that he is southern.  We know he is southern because all of his dialogue is written abbreviated with a plethora of ” ‘”s:

“Well, it’s always been my experience that when someone’s starin’ out as far as they can see, they’re missin’ somethin’.  They don’t always realize that.”  He paused for a few moments before repeating his question.

“So what are you looking’ for?”

You know how I would be able to tell that this character was from Texas?  If Mason just asked him where he is from.  There was no need to continuously abbreviate all of his words, it was distracting.


Theme Summary:

When I began this book I thought that there would be no way the author could establish a theme.  However, I was pleasantly surprised:

“See what you started?”  Edith asked me.  “All I’m saying is we shouldn’t blindly follow tradition.  It’s not who we are.  Our race is a result of humans challenging the laws of the universe.  Without them, we wouldn’t be here.”

And then:

“I know I am, but I don’t think you see it that way anymore.  I think you now realize that being a warlock isn’t a reputation, it just is.  Our magic doesn’t define us.  We define it, and when  you look at it that way, it makes it easier to manipulate.”

I see the first quote as a comment on conservative traditional philosophy with sexuality.  They are often so focused on how sinful and “wrong” homosexuality is, that they do not consider how much we have changed as a society from our ancestors.  What was “wrong” a hundred or more years ago is now acceptable.

The second quote I can also see as a comment about our sexuality.  We hear those labels all the time:  Bi, straight, gay, pan, etc.  But what do they mean?  If I tell you that I am bi, does that tell you everything about me?  Am I a good cook?  Am I a good wife?  A good worker?

Strong Points:

After the rough start, I was concerned there would be no depth with only a tropey plot.  Yet I found a buffet of thought-provoking theme.  I finished reading this book and dreamed all day about writing a blog post.  I can not tell you the last time I eagerly yearned to write a blog post.

As a side note, the cover is gorgeous!

What could be better?

The start of the book did not feel well written.  It was  a rough start:  the characters were two-dimensional and the writing was difficult to get through all of the tropey writing.

I would have given this a 4 star review due to the theme, if we had a better beginning and more character development.  If the author had spent some more time with a longer book (say 300-400 pages), then I believe the author would have had time to develop the story more.

Also, the notes say that this is a 216 page book, but the book ended on page 194. This is a bit misleading.


I am glad that I stuck through with Spell Bound.  While the beginning was a little difficult to get through, I enjoyed the theme and the plot was pretty page turning.  I appreciated the metaphors within the novel comparing the magical classes to our current social biases.  I will certainly check out the second book in this series, Blood Tied.