J to tha M Give Two Thumbs UP

What We’re Reading (J Got a Kindle. It’s On.)

Discover new books


J: To honor Ebert, we should give a J to tha M spin on the thumbs up, thumbs down on the books we’ve read lately

M:  You want my list?

J: Hit me.

M: That might exceed our bandwidth. Maybe we should limit it to what we’ve both read. There’s got to be a couple, at least.

J: M, you know my recent history with books. Give it your best shot.

M: We both read Jeanette Grey’s Take What You Want this week.

J: I bought that one because you told me to. Thanks for that, by the way.

M: Really well written, great characters I fell in love with and could relate to

no big suspension of disbelief and that’s pretty rare lately. Especially after reading JR Ward. Heh.

J: I flew through it. Loved every second. Then I read the ending again.

M: I had an eyebrow quirk at the fact she didn’t recognize a cute guy in her class, glasses or not, but okay

but she made it all work.

Ellen was a great female MC and so well written to show her development and where she was at that stage of her life, trying to figure out who she was, what she wanted, and brave enough to go after it.

And Josh. So sweet and sexy. He was pretty confident and experienced for a somewhat nerdy college kid who lives at home

but it was super hot and really well-done, so again, it was only a fleeting “hmm”

J: i have actually been wondering about his confidence

I thought she might explain it

but I guess not

M: yeah. I mean, he’s too shy to even approach her for the past 3 or four years, but he has all that sexual confidence

There’s no mention of his past experience. A little about never bringing a girl home to meet his parents, like for dinner or anything, but that’s about it

but again, it didn’t bother me. I loved it. I loved Josh. Any book that sucks me right in, makes me feel for the characters, that I can’t put down until I’m done, I seriously love.

Big thumbs up for me. Read this. Go now.

J: I second the thumbs up. What’s next?

M: What else did you read?

J: Ummmm… I did end up reading a To Kill a Mockingbird again two weeks ago

it was an accident

I was looking for a quote for something I was writing and read the whole thing instead

M: Heh. I think we need to limit it to books written in the past decade or so.

J: Oh! I did read the Bride Series by Nora Roberts. I know you did, too. As a whole, thumbs up, but I’m not all the way convinced all the time.

M: Well, it’s been a while since I read that series – when it first came out – but yeah. I agree a thumbs up as a whole. I liked the Carter and Mal books. The one with Delaney was eh, and I don’t even remember who the other one was about. Guess that sums it up right there.

J: I thought Mal was kind of a caricature. I wanted him to be sexy, but I kept picturing Joey Buttafuoco. Not sexy. Also, it’s never more apparent that she writes the same story over and over than when you read four in a row. But still. She makes me feel. Even if it’s the same feelings every time.

M: That’s a good point. The Bride series was far from my favorite of hers. I haven’t had the same intensity of feeling from her books lately. I haven’t even read the new one – the Inn series. I’m telling you, though, try her JD Robb series. Still amazing. I haven’t gotten that same-story feeling from those at all, and she’s, what, 30-some in now? Besides, you’ll love Roarke. Irish boy.

J: I haven’t enjoyed anything by her as much as I did the Irish trilogies. Go figure. I do have a paper copy of the first Inn book. This will change.

as I had suspected, I have gone nuts on the kindle

M:  easy to do

J:  free! free books on kindle

it’s crazy

i mean, I know this is a thing, but I never made use of it

it’s all so exciting

M:  haha – yes. That’s how I was. Free books! And then, even when they’re not, you just press a button and it appears

J:  that’s super dangerous

M:  best magic ever

J:  I have to really restrain myself with music, and now books, too?

I don’t have enough self control for that

M:  it’s really made me think about my reading habits as a reader and apply that to my writing

I mean, with all that’s available, if I’m not caught up in the first few pages of a book, I move on to the next.

too many to try, you know?

and it really brings home how important that first line, paragraph, page, chapter is

J:  that makes a lot of sense

if you go through the trouble of going to the bookstore, picking among thousands there, standing in line to pay, driving it home…

you might give it more of a go than the first few pages, simply because you did go through the trouble

M:  and you likely did a lot more research into it to go to that effort

or at least put more thought into it. with the ebooks, it’s just so easy to skim the blurb and pile them all on. so you do your thought afterward instead of before, kind of

J: Well, next week we can talk about Ben Monopoli again, because I’m now reading Cranberry Hush. KC Beaumont is my hero for introducing me to him.

M: Me, too. We can talk about that next week – I read all his. Cranberry Hush and Porcupine City.

J: Maybe he’ll hear us talking about him and come guest blog for us… We could stalk him until he agrees. You should get on that.

M: It worked with Jeanette Grey. We’re excellent stalkers.



J to tha M: Spring Cleaning the Brain

Finding Our Passion for Reading and Writing Again

finding passion for writingM:  Ugh. I’m coming out of the winter icks. Been so just bleh lately with all the expectations–mostly my own–and constant struggling to figure out what the hell I’m doing, what I should be doing, blah blah blah.

J:  heh. I’m in a blah mood about the time part of writing this week

well, all the time, really

M:  It just seems like we’re pushing so hard all the time. I’m sad it takes the joy out of reading and writing

but, it’s true for just about everything, so eh

J:  yeah. once anything becomes a job, it’s a lot less fun

M:  I’m going to take a couple weeks and see if I can’t just have fun with the stories and characters again

It’s like spring cleaning for my brain

J:  I need some kind of recharge, too

a reset button or something

M:  I used to get such a good recharge out of reading, but lately, I’ve been more or less forcing myself to read stuff, for whatever the reason, and it’s really blah’d me. So, reading is my personal thing, even if it is “business” related now. I’m not going to force myself to read anything if it doesn’t grab me, just like I’ve always done

J:  that’s exceptionally good

there’s not enough time in the day to read a crappy book

no matter who wrote it

M: and it’s about finding those gems

they’re out there, it’s just holding out until you find them

I’ve found a couple of good ones, but man, it’s depressing to see how many just don’t appeal to me lately

J:  it’s a lack of quality, for one thing

I used to be able to get past anything if it was a good story

but it’s hard to do that anymore

M: I can overlook some things if the story is awesome. Just haven’t found many of those, even

J: perhaps it’s just general discontent. it happens sometimes

M: My own personal tastes, I guess

I’ve found an awesome one every now and again, and those are those gems I’m talking about

J: right. I think that happens all the time, though. I’ve had some big pub books that just lost me

I have an Evanovich in my bag that I keep swearing I’ll finish

but meh

M: I like her Stephanie Plum ones

they’re easy fun reads

J: I kind of feel like I’m reading the same thing over and over, though

this is the Diesel one

the magic series

M: oh, I haven’t gotten into those as much

J: it just feels like Stephanie Plum with magic

and all those thing we pay such close attention to: show vs. tell and active vs. passive

it’s just not there

M: Yeah, I don’t like the Diesel storyline anywhere near as much as the Stephanie ones

I can overlook a lot if the story grabs me enough, but when it doesn’t – yikes.

J: So what isn’t “yikes” lately? Anything amazing? You made abundantly clear how much you loved Qhuinn, so give me one better.

M: I did love Qhuinn. There were some things I would have liked more or different, of course, but overall it gave me the happy sighs like I haven’t had in quite a while. But I’m head over heels for that boy, so having most of the focus on him was…sigh.

I read Ben Monopoli’s book that KC Beaumont reviewed (loved her review), and omg was that just a hell of a lot of fun. I loved it. Loved! I mean, Boots McHenry. That’s just all kinds of absurd awesomeness for a main character name, and the entire story lived up to all that and so much more.

J: I love hearing that!

M: I highly recommend. I went and got his others, started Cranberry Hush, and it’s amazeballs (so to speak, heh) too.

And then I’m reading a couple of serials I’m really enjoying. The stories are released in parts every two weeks until they’re complete, about eight or nine parts, I think. You pay one price and then get the installments automatically delivered to the kindle. Falling for Frederick by Cheryl Bolen and A Hero Lies Within by Patrice Wilton. I’m having fun with them so far.

J: See, Monopoli is a self-pub gem. Proof that awesomeness can happen without a big house. The serials sound like a good idea, too. Maybe small bites are what I need. I should go buy some books…

M: Whaaaa…?

J: I know. I know. I’ve just been waiting for the right book, and Mr. Monopoli wins.


Book Review: Homo Action Love Story! (a tall tale) by Ben Monopoli

Novel Review by KC Beaumont

Disclaimer: Many novels are provided for the purpose of review, but this particular book was not. KC Beaumont purchased Homo Action Love Story! on her own and not for the intention of reviewing. Then she loved it so much, she couldn’t help herself and had to let us know what she thought.

Book Review for Fight for Your WriteAs much as my love for Ben Monopoli makes me hate to admit it, if Homo Action Love Story! had been written by an author with whom I was not familiar (had to throw in a complicated bit of unnatural-sounding grammar to make Clemente proud), I might not have taken a chance on this fantastic novel. I love Mr. Monopoli’s honest writing style and the easy way he can suck the reader into a scene. His characters are realistic, flawed, frustrating, and perfect in their imperfection. Reading the blurb and the quirky title for his latest novel, though, I was expecting more slapstick comedy and porn than believable story and incredible intimacy. As an adoring fan of Mr. Monopoli’s, however, I just had to read it… and it was so zilla awesome, I read it twice.

Homo Action Love Story! kicks off with an interesting author’s note preparing the reader for a little bit of what’s to come:

Homo Action Love Story! takes place in a medically advanced future, where the only risk for two people who go to bed together is the risk of a broken heart.

This is not our world.

Always be safe.”

This tells the reader three things:

  • Sex scenes will not include condoms. While that’s not unusual in fiction, it gives the reader happy, fuzzy feelings at the possibility of a disease-free future, while at the same time, taking away any anxiety a reader may feel at characters putting their health at risk with not practicing safer sex. Blanket permission to suspend belief in such a way makes, for me at least, a more relaxing read.
  • Such a reality doesn’t yet exist, so fans need to take their health seriously.


  • There might be flying cars in this bright and beautiful future.

Okay, so that last bit wasn’t the case in this book. Readers will expect, though, that other advances, apart from medical, will have been made, and other aspects of society at large could be vastly different.

Homo Action Love Story!  is packed with steamy romance, athletic guys, and tons of action… and not just of the bedroom variety. But, my favorite part? All the future tech. It makes my brain happy, okay? Flexiglass is a nifty material used for everything, from Jumbotrons, to TVs, to cell phones, to tablets. In its use with tablets in this tale, it’s paper-like in structure and can be smoothed out and snapped to a rigid state. Freaking sweet. Currency is no longer carried in one’s wallet—one can just “flick” money (and business cards, addresses, etc.) to others with their cell phone. And vehicles are powered with hydrogen engines… yes, please! I want all these things to exist right now. Mr. Jetson can keep his flying cars. Just give me a flexiglass phone that I can use to flick money I don’t have to people I don’t want to give it to.

Another delightful futuristic aspect of this story is how wildly popular the sport of paintball is. Football is a thing of the past, and the Splatter Cup is the new Super Bowl.

Hell to the yeah!

Much like present celebrity athletes, celebrity paintballers are paid exorbitant amounts of money to play the game. Unlike today’s athletes, these players can’t afford to make it big and later slack off on the field and get paid just for showing up. There are consequences to screwing up in a match. If a player suffers a kill shot, one that would be fatal if they’d been struck by an actual bullet, that player has been “simu-killed”. Simu-death, or simulated death, results in exile where a simu-dead player gets whisked off the field via helicopter and taken to a top-secret location to spend the next five years isolated from everyone and everything. Simu-dead paintballers don’t get cell phones, TV, or get to have any kind of contact from anyone back home. The threat of a five-year separation from everything one knows and loves is a pretty good incentive to do one’s best in the arena. And as Boots McHenry discovers, it’s something that can happen to the best of players, and it can turn one’s entire world upside-down.

This isn’t your typical “Boy meets boy, boy falls in love with boy, boy loses boy, boy gets boy back” love story.

(Whoa, that was a lot of “boy”s… how appropriate!)

…it’s more like a “Pro paintballer meets pro paintballer, pro paintballer falls in love with pro paintballer, pro paintballer loses pro paintballer, pro paintballer’s pro-paintballer best friend takes him on a fantastic adventure filled with mixed-martial artists and bitter exes and adorable fans and pirates and sharks and…” (have I mentioned this book is packed with tons of action?) kind of story.

If you love tales with loveable dudes, paintball, intrigue, plot twists, raucously fun sex, high-seas adventure, naked remote-control interviews, and lube wrestling… wait. I didn’t tell you about all that? Well, you’ll just have to read Homo Action Love Story! (more than once, because it’s that good) to find out how incredibly awesome this tall tale really is. You won’t be sorry.


About the Book

Boots McHenry and his boyfriend Ryan are young superstars in the North American Paintball League, a high-stakes sport where losers face exile — five full years of it, on an island so secret no one can be sure it even exists. After Ryan has a tragic collision with an opposing team’s paintball, the rules of the game force the boyfriends apart.

Boots is shattered without Ryan, so when his best friend Clemente Santiago suggests a daring, high-seas mission to find the island and reunite the pair, Boots jumps at the chance. They assemble a crack team to join them, including fashion model and mixed-martial-arts champ Colby Kroft, hunky-but-shy sea-captain Marcus Tumble, and Piper Pernfors, the ex who’s aching to make Boots forget Ryan ever existed.

HOMO ACTION LOVE STORY! is a lighthearted, sexy adventure from the author of THE CRANBERRY HUSH and THE PAINTING OF PORCUPINE CITY. It’s a perfect storm of beautiful fishermen, murderous pirates, blossoming romances, and secrets that call almost everyone’s motives into question. Land, ho! This page-turner is sure to float your boat.

About the Author

Ben Monopoli lives in Boston with his husband, Chris. Visit Ben Monopoli’s blog or his Goodreads profile to learn more about his work and buy the book, or visit Amazon and Smashwords.


K.C. Beaumont resides in northwest Louisiana with a sweet man who pays her bills and two small people who continuously call her “Mama.” In addition to being a professional child wrangler and clothes ironer, she is an avid fiction reader, a sometimes fiction writer, and a horrible cook. Visit her website to see her great titles.

Buy her books here: Amazon | Silver Publishing

Book Review: The More Things Change by KC Beaumont

Novella Review from Robert Coles

Book review KC BeaumontLet me start this review by pointing out that I received this book at about 12:15am and started reading it with every intention of falling asleep quickly. When I approach a book I usually know whether I love it or hate it within the first few pages. I did not fall asleep, and I did not stop reading until the last teasing quote.

K. C. Beaumont, thank you for writing a novel that includes sex without making me feel like trash for reading it. A job well done to you, ma’am. I’m especially thankful that Ms. Beaumont was able to give a 25-year-old homosexual male a character that is relatable, honest, and pure rather than stereotype him as trashy. In fact, the main character Bryan is stated at one point as going through a dry-spell that lasted almost a year. The entire story is told through Bryan’s perspective, which adds a human aspect to the character that is quite refreshing.

Probably one of my favorite characters in the book is Bryan’s older sister Chloe. Her character is recently widowed and has what the reader can only assume is the most adorable 5-year-old named Wyatt. She also was diagnosed with Lupus, and her younger brother Bryan has moved in to help her with bills and his nephew. When you find out that Bryan, who is in school to become a Surgery Technician, dropped out of his pre-med program to get a job at a grocery store when his brother in law died, you gain even more respect for the already likable character. Chloe is witty, sarcastic, and humorous, and I don’t want to give anything away, but she’s also very supportive, which came as a huge shock to me since I assumed the story was set somewhere in the south. We’re never really given the location, but I pictured Tennessee the whole time.

Another great character is Aaron, but what makes him truly a great character is how the author establishes who he is. She uses rich adjectives and a charming description that show both the Military aspect of him (and thank goodness a gay soldier was finally portrayed in a positive “I’m serving my country proudly” kind of way) and the softer, more gentle side of him. There is one particular scene in the book where he shows his rough and tough exterior when defending Bryan that almost made me stand up and clap, even though it was 1:00am when I was reading it. My dog would have given me some weird looks for sure.

As for the storyline, it’s pretty much what you’d expect from a love story. Boy knows boy for several years and is secretly in love with him, boy falls asleep in other boys car and accidentally gives away that he’s gay, and other boy admits he feels the same way. You know, a true American love story.

As for the sections of the book that are a little more “NC-17,” they don’t take away from the story at all. In fact, they add so much into this 21st century love story that by the end of the scenes you understand every bit of Bryan and Aaron’s tensions, as well as why Bryan says the things he says in his brilliant and clever thoughts the author weaves into the story.

In all honesty, it kept me captivated, and at times, I was worried about the final outcome. Everything seems perfect, and there are subtle clues that problems will arise, but the author keeps your attention and makes you feel like these characters are alive. By the end of the book, I cared about what Bryan and Aaron were going through, and I was pulling for happy endings all around.

The only negative thing I can say about this story is that it was too short. Will there be a sequel? I don’t know. But I do know K.C. Beaumont has a great future in writing.



K.C. Beaumont resides in northwest Louisiana with a sweet man who pays her bills and two small people who continuously call her “Mama.” In addition to being a professional child wrangler and clothes ironer, she is an avid fiction reader, a sometimes fiction writer, and a horrible cook. Visit her website to see other great titles.

Buy the books here: Amazon | Silver Publishing

(From two authors on behalf of another: We all get a bit more money from each book when it’s purchased from the publisher. Since we’re not JK Rowling, every little bit helps.)


Robby Coles is a Franklin, TN native, and lover of all things wordy. He works for Inbound Marketing Agents as a Content Marketer, and writes about marketing and social media networking. Personally, he enjoys reading excellent books and writing honest reviews. He also writes his own blogs about living gluten free, as well as his blog of personal thoughts on writing, marketing, life, and everyone around him. Robert has a dog named Stella (she’s much cooler than him) and is about to promote the hell out of all of his social media networking sites. Connect with him!