Five Things I’m Loving Right Now — Summer Edition

Friends,

In belated celebration of the solstice and the lovely summer weather, here’s another round of the five things I’m loving right now. Be sure to hit me up in the comments about the stuff you’re grooving on!

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1. All the new releases in M/M romance

Some heavy hitters have new releases out this month, perfect for those easy days at the beach or lazing on the balcony drinking your bevvy of choice. The only real concern is in which order to read them in. The one I’ve chosen is Josh Lanyon’s Winter Kill, Amy Lane’s The Deep of the Sound, followed by K.J. Charles’ The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal, then Jordan L. Hawk’s Mocker of Ravens, Harper Fox’s Last Line 2, J.L. Merrow’s Played, and Kaje Harper’s Life, Some Assembly Required. The only downside is it will take me less than a month to get through them all, and what am I going to do with the rest of July and August?

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2. Acupressure mats

I don’t usually go in for what my friend J. describes as “that woo-woo stuff,” and the various web sites for this product claim it does everything from help you lose weight to cure major ailments. But I am here to tell you that after a long, stressful day, especially at the end of your workout, lying on this bad boy is like an evil massage that works your muscles but feels so good afterwards. My friend A. is the fairy godmother who gave me this “torture device” for my last birthday, and I have been singing her praises ever since. Especially good on feet swollen from long walks in the hot sun, or those hard to reach places on the back of your neck. And way cheaper than paying for regular massages, as well.

3. Brandon Flowers’ The Desired Effect

A buoyant ’80s-influenced pop extravaganza that combines Flowers’ playful, evocative lyrics with one of the best male voices out there right now. If you grew up loving the New Romantics, like I did, this album will bring you back. Favorite tracks include Can’t Deny My Love, I Can Change, Untangled Love, and Lonely Town.

4.  The 100

Summer is the perfect time to catch up on or binge shows that you missed during the year, and this one has been on my list for a while. While it doesn’t exactly reinvent the wheel, it was definitely worth the wait. I call it “Lost and Battlestar Galactica’s teenage love child,” because you will recognize a good deal of those shows’ ideas, themes, and actors (I swear half of BSG’s Canadian cast has appeared on this show at least once–just waiting for you to show up, Tamoh!), but that doesn’t make its dystopian space opera narrative any less riveting. The premise is simple: 100 delinquent teens from a space station orbiting Earth are sent back down 100 years after nuclear war to see if the planet is inhabitable (spoiler alert: it is, because duh). We keep track of the teens as they try to survive in this new, brutal environment (think Lord of the Flies on crack), but also follow their parents and elders stuck on the dying space station.

One of the best parts of the show is the amazing gender equality and diversity of the cast. Among the main actors, it’s a 50-50 split between men and women, with two women as the show’s lead characters. I’d actually say white men are in the minority on the show, and they are most often portrayed as evil, or at least misguided, characters. Though everyone has flaws, and the character arcs progress beautifully, and the action is pretty non-stop. But the writers aren’t precious about squeezing all the life out of a situation to maintain the status quo. Things are constantly changing on the show, and they aren’t afraid to reward the viewer with major, long-awaited events when the time is right. You’ve seen a lot of it done before, and most of the teens are unreasonably good-looking (if perpetually muddy), but for summer viewing? The 100 definitely hits the spot.

5. My dog’s fur

This is on the more personal side. My little poochie turned eight this year, which is more or less senior age for a dog, and I’ve become more aware of the ticking clock. She’s never been the cuddliest dog–too independent, like her person–but as she’s gotten older, she’s mellowed a bit about the whole “curling up” thing, and I’m stupidly grateful. There’s nothing like mushing my bare feet into her fur when she sits on the far end of the couch while I write, or feeling her silkiness on my cheek as we snuggle while watching TV. I’ve shaved her down for the season, so it’s a bit pricklier than normal, but that just makes her all the more huggable. I never want to take that feeling for granted, and I’m so grateful that she’s in my life.

Enjoy the sunshine!

Selina

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Top 5 Most Cinematic M/M Romances

One of the great tragedies of the modern cinematic era, IMHO, is the fact that Brokeback Mountain was followed up by… absolutely nothing. There hasn’t been one mainstream film about a gay couple since, nor is there likely to be one in the near future. A few on the indie scene have managed to make something of a splash among critics and diehards—Love Is Strange, Mysterious Skin, and The Kids Are All Right come to mind—but nothing on par with the visibility and the success of Brokeback.

It’s not like Hollywood is lacking in source material, either. They could adapt Mary Renault, Christopher Isherwood, or Gore Vidal if they want some highbrow Oscar-bait. But wouldn’t it be more interesting if, hot on the heels of *that movie* and the supposed renaissance of sexy adult films (I’ll believe it when I see it), they looked to the M/M romance genre and the hundreds of authors whose works are both high-quality and highly filmable? Seriously, indie producers, what are you waiting for?

But, as a community, we don’t really have to wait for those producers anymore, do we? Surely there are enough M/M readers worldwide to fund a serious Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaign. Enough readers with a background in film or television (like me) to shepherd the project to completion. Maybe one day my dream of having a production company that exclusively adapts M/M books will be a reality. In the meantime, a girl can dream… about which books she would tackle first, and who should star in those theoretical films.

Whether this is a pie-in-the-sky ambition, a dream that could be a reality with enough elbow grease, or a fun party game, I offer up for debate my (very subjective) list of the Five Most Cinematic M/M Books! After you’ve perused the list, hit up the comments with your suggestions, alternatives, or casting revisions!

Stranger on the Shore by Josh Lanyon

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If that IndieKickGogoStarter campaign ever does see the light of day, one of the big issues is going to be which book to tackle first. Any producer worth their salt would do enough research to know that Josh Lanyon is probably the most read author in the genre, with an extensive backlist and several movie-ready series (because the name of the game is always sequels). The two obvious choices would be to start with the first Adrien English novel, Fatal Shadows, or, if they have more of a budget to work with, the Dangerous Ground series. Both would be excellent choices and would make great films.

But I would look to one of his more recent works, Stranger on the Shore. I mean, just look at what he did with the trailer! The book has everything great movies are made of: a compelling mystery, a Kennedy-esque family with dark secrets that suffered a major tragedy, a leading man with a personal connection to the family and the crime, a nosy reporter with secrets of his own, a gorgeous Hamptons backdrop. With its many allusions to The Great Gatsby, Stranger on the Shore positions itself as a modern-day twist on that classic: romantic, mysterious, luxurious, and entrancing. Throw in a picturesque moonlit lake view with a green light across the water, and I’m sold.

Casting: As Griff, the pesky reporter writing a book about the Arlington family tragedy, I can’t think of anyone more dogged yet charming than Grant Gustin. He also suffers quite prettily, too, and that baby face doesn’t hurt. As Pierce, the stone-cold lawyer and Arlington family bulldog, Alexander Skarsgaard’s Scandinavian chill and grace would seduce pretty much everyone watching. Still, even though the character in the book is Caucasian, I like to practice color-blind casting, and think Jesse Williams or Mike Coulter would also be great—and super hot!

The Magpie Lord by K.J. Charles

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Victorian London. A cursed lord with a booby-trapped mansion and a merciless sorcerer out to exploit the very blood coursing through his veins. A secret organization of magic police who hunt down anyone who abuses their powers. A book crammed with more imagination, thrilling events, sexual smoulder, and cataclysmic climaxes than a reader deserves… Not to mention stripping. Both the kind you think and… not. The stuff of fantasies, both sexual and adventurous. The stuff of nightmares, but, you know, the fun kind that go bump in the night. This is the real Harry Potter for grownups.

Casting: The obvious choice for Lord Crane based on physical description alone is Lawrence Fox, but I find he has a sleepy quality that doesn’t suit Lucian. Someone who has the strength, the stillness, the wryness, and the imperiousness required is Richard Armitage. He doesn’t look exactly right, but that’s an easy fix. For Stephen Day, the tiny ginger with the adamantium sense of morality and the fearsome powers, I would look no further than the lovely Luke Treadaway. Although…. something about James McAvoy speaks to me as well. I think he would nail Stephen’s weariness and intractability.

Driftwood by Harper Fox

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When comes to the fantastic Ms. Fox, there isn’t a book in her cannon that isn’t outrageously cinematic. This author paints on a epic canvas, and her settings are often secondary characters in her books. Any one of them would make a riveting film, but Driftwood has touchstones and elements that I still remember vividly some three years after reading it. The statue shaped like a wave. The many rescues/dangerous encounters at sea. The protagonists’ military backgrounds and personal tragedies. Meet cutes at standing stones. And, of course, the decaying lighthouse where the MC lives, which at one point topples over the side of a cliff. The dangerous beauty of Cornwall, where it is set. There is so much meat here; it would be a cinematic feast.

Casting: Ever since I read the book, I have a theory that a crude version of its genesis went a little something like this: Benedict Cumberbatch shags Michael Fassbender. Now, this doesn’t do anything like justice to Ms. Fox’s subtle character shadings and riveting storyline, and it could be me imposing my own obsessions on the books, but, well. That’s the movie I see in my head. Cumby would be the doctor, Tom, of course, and Fassy the helicopter pilot, Flynn.

Captive Prince Volumes I and II by C.S. Pacat

 

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Two rival countries, both alike in… well, deceptions, double-crosses, overthrows, assassinations, warmongering, and manipulations. Romeo & Romeo, this ain’t. The captive prince of the title is forced into slavery after his father’s murder by his bastard brother. He’s sent to their most vicious enemy, a kingdom with a maniacal regent and a ruthless king-to-be, who is first in line for the throne because the slave-prince killed the older brother he worshipped in order to win a war. The political machinations alone make the Game of Thrones look like a round of Scrabble, and the enemies to lovers saga is one of the most gripping and infuriating I’ve ever read. Did I mention the kidnappings, wild hunts, sneaking into enemy territory at night, stormings of castles, and breath-stopping escape attempts? Possibly the best love scene I’ve ever read? One of the most complicated and inscrutable characters in all of creation? Forget a movie—this book needs its own 10-part HBO series.

Casting: Jason Momoa would be interesting for Damen. For Laurent, I can’t think of anyone better than Freddie Fox. If you’ve seen Cucumber, the Russell T. Davies series, you’ll understand.

Provoked by Joanna Chambers

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Righteous young lawyer David Lauriston is eager to make his mark on the legal profession in 1822 Scotland, but also to help people and serve the common good. He is tormented by his sexuality and longs for the one that got away, a boyhood love he was forced apart from years before. Enter Lord Murdo Balfour, tall, dark, and unapologetic about his need for other men. Of course, it helps to have the bank account and the social connections that can pay for discretion. Part legal thriller and part opposites-attract romance, all set against a rarely seen historical backdrop—not to mention an inordinate amount of men in kilts—this book is begging to be made into a film. Though book three, set at Murdo’s highland estate, would be the most picturesque.

Casting: As ambitious but morally conflicted David, the Australian actor Sam Reid, so good in a similar part in last year’s Belle. As Murdo… I’m conflicted. So many of the actors I think would be amazing in the role are too old now to play it—Matthew Macfadyen, Viggo Mortensen, Manu Bennett. But then I remembered that Henry Cavill—before he chose to go the leading man route—has the height, the range, the manliness, and the sense of mischievous superiority, as evidenced by his work on The Tudors. BBC Films, make this happen!

Over to you, gentle readers. What M/M romance would make your list must-see films? Who would you cast and why? Feel free to use and abuse the comments as your very own casting couch.

The Twelve Smutty, Geeky Treasures of Xmas!! Happy Holidays!!

Friends,

Thank you one and all for making this one of the most intense and interesting years of my life. I hope it was an equally eventful one for all of you! I hope this holiday season is whatever you wish for it to be, whether cozy and relaxing, or exhilarating and full of adventure, or a flurry of social activity with family or friends. However you choose to celebrate, make your own list of all the good things in your life. We are luckier than we think, and to me, remembering that is the real spirit of the season.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t have a little decadence to go along with it. So along with a very Happy Holidays, I wish you…

Twelve sexy gingers from the Red Hot 100 calendar to indulge your every whim!

The Eleventh and best Time Lord to whoosh you off to the far reaches of the galaxy/time period of your choice!

Ten episodes of Fargo, an ice-hearted, atmospheric delight, to binge on!

Nine (okay, a lot more, but just go with it) amazing LGBTQ-related charities that could definitely use a bit of help in this season of indulgence!

A box of Eight grand cru chocolate sticks from Valrhona, the best chocolatier in the world!

The Seven movies in cinemas now actually worth your valuable dollars and time: Selma, Birdman, Nightcrawler, Whiplash, Gone Girl, The Theory of Everything, and Inherent Vice! (People, it’s Christmas. Google them!)

Six exceptional holiday shorts, some free, some not, from the best M/M authors out there: Joanna Chambers, Harper Fox, L.B. Gregg, Josh Lanyon, Jordan L. Hawk, KJ Charles.

Five new Christmas codas from the exceptionally generous Josh Lanyon!

Four incredible restaurants that will revolutionize your taste buds if you ever visit Montreal, Quebec: Au Pied de Cochon, Joe Beef, Hostaria, Satay Brothers.

A riveting Three-book series that plunges you into an indelible world and shows the moral and personal consequences of magic, by Lev Grossman!

Two interconnected superhero shows, Arrow and The Flash, that you won’t regret watching for a second!

One very grateful author and blogger who can’t wait to see what the new year brings, and is so thankful to have all your scintillating insights and disparate opinions to read and react to. Keep it coming in 2015!!

Much love,

Selina

 

Coming Soon to an M/M Publisher Near You…

It’s Labor Day weekend, peeps. I’m sure I’m not the only one thinking, “When did that happen?” The temperatures for early September are already looking on the chilly side. I just bought my first sweater of the year (short-sleeved, but still). Doo-doo just got real.

Here at Chez Selina, it’s been one tough summer, and I certainly don’t feel like I’ve caught my share of rays. So, in order to get myself excited for fall—which, really, is usually my favorite season, and this year may just feature the release of a certain book by a certain blogger (AKA me!)—I’ve decided to list the M/M books I’m most looking forward to reading. Nothing wrong with giving some of my favorite authors a little free promo, either, right? (*And* I’m fairly sure you weren’t exactly salivating for another recipe post. There are a couple of pop culture pieces in the pipeline, but probably won’t see the light of day until my schedule relents a bit—see the aforementioned rough summer.)

So, without further ado, here are the titles that have got my eyes twinkling, my fingers itching, and my loins… well, you know. In other words: Can’t. Bloody. Wait!

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Flight of Magpies, KJ Charles and Bloodline, Jordan L. Hawk, here and here. I’ve mentioned my love for these ladies’ work before, and I am beyond eager to dive back into their respective series.

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The Boy with the Painful Tattoo by Josh Lanyon, here. Never miss a book of his! Can’t wait to dive back into the lives of Kit and J.X. (now played by Benedict Cumberbatch and Andrew Scott in my mind palace).

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Fever Pitch by Heidi Cullinan, here. I have to pass on a lot of Heidi’s books, not because she isn’t a kickass author (she so is), but because of the kink level, which makes her less kinky books that much more precious to me. That we get to read more about Kelly and Walter only sweetens the deal.

Unjustified Claims by Kaje Harper (no cover or link yet). I was always a vampire girl, until a JesseWave review convinced me that Ms. Harper’s books were different. I love all her books, but have a special place in my heart for her wolves. Can’t wait to meet the new members of the pack.

But the most exciting news of all, though so many details are still very much TBD and this is not an official announcement, is that one of the books on my In the Works page will soon be in the works no more! More concrete information to follow…

In the meantime, show some of these authors some love and pre-order these tantalizing new titles!

Cheers,
-Selina

The Very Model of a Historical Occult Investigator

It’s been one of those weeks here at Chez Selina, so this post is going to be the Internet equivalent of a cheerleading squad at a football game. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I know there’s a lot of ‘Read this!’ out there, but when I recommend something, know that it’s because the book/show/film took possession of my mind for a few blissful hours and left me feeling giddy as a two-year-old on a sugar high. I generally keep a weather eye on trends in my reading, and lately there has been a particular genre that has been altogether obsessing me, so, without further ado, can I get a rah, rah, sis-boom-bah for K.J. Charles and Jordan L. Hawk?

I love historicals. I love stories about the supernatural and the occult. I love M/M romances. Know what I love most of all? Historical supernatural M/M romances with occult storylines! Whoo!

Two authors kicking ass and taking names in the genre are the aforementioned K.J. Charles and Jordan L. Hawk. Over the past two months, I have been mainlining every book of theirs I could get my hands on, and just when I thought I couldn’t get a bigger buzz off these gals, it turns out they wrote a book together, combining both pairs of characters. Closest thing to literary nirvana since the third Adrien English mystery? Signs point to yes.

Here are the deets you need to know:

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K.J. Charles is a self-described “editor and writer who blogs about life on both sides of the publishing fence.” She currently has two historical supernatural series going, her Charm of Magpies series and the Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal series of shorts. Her Stephen Day from the Magpie series is one of the most unique, fascinating, and endearing characters I’ve encountered in a good long while—not that his romantic foil, Lucien Vaudrey, is by any means the lesser of the pair. Their backstories and their personalities are expertly contrasted; the dance they perform around each other, and eventually together, is as compelling as the events that endanger them at every turn. They are one of those couples that seem impossible on paper, but in life make perfect sense.

All I’ll say about period accuracy and detail is that I bow before her ability to conjure up the past.

Ms. Charles is also not afraid to raise the stakes as high as they can go. The danger in her books is not just real, not just potentially fatal, but the stuff of night terrors and childhood horrors. It’s a wonder her two protagonists haven’t gone mad from the living of these vicious otherworldly episodes. I’m not often genuinely scared reading M/M books, but I have been known to keep the lights as bright as possible and cuddle up with my doggy when reading these. I have been haunted by them, in more ways than one.

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The same could be said of Jordan L. Hawk’s Whyborne and Griffin series. They are the American equivalent of Crane and Day (or Feximal and Caldwell, take your pick), living in the Hellmouth-esque seaside town of Widdershins, Massachusetts. Whyborne and Griffin are more of an obvious match as a couple, but that doesn’t make their meeting and subsequent courtship any less enthralling, especially as it involves undercover missions, a grimoire written in an arcane language, cults, sorcery, and the end of the world. Oh, and one of the strongest female protagonists in the M/M cannon in the dashing and cutthroat Christine.

I confess that Whyborne’s “child of wealth and repression who feels ostracized from his family and the world due to his bookishness, proclivities, and desire to take the road less travelled” struck a chord in me (for obvious, semi-autobiographical reasons). But I especially admire the way Ms. Hawk never lets Whyborne or Griffin (who has his own set of issues) wholly recover from their personal challenges and insecurities. They grow, little by little, inch by inch, over the course of the first four novels, but these changes and victories are hard-won, and ready to beat them back down at every turn. She also marries their supernatural investigations to their inner turmoil, so the case itself affects them on a spiritual and psychological level.

If the love story is especially involving, the supernatural elements are especially icky. There are scenes in these books that, excuse my French, grossed me the fuck out, and also inspired me to make like a Dalek and exterminate every last creepy crawly lurking in the corners of my apartment.

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The apotheosis of their talents occurs in Remnant, where Simon Feximal and Robert Caldwell meet Whyborne and Griffin. Bickering and flirtation, as well as the hunt for a serial killer sorcerer, ensue.

Really, what more reason do you need to gorge on these delectable books? I promise, you’ll be thoroughly slaked and not gain a pound. That’s my kind of feast.

Cheers,
-Selina