A MelanieM Review: City of Monsters by Andrea Speed

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

City of MonstersHunter Burrows used to be an insurance investigator on Earth.  But something happened 6 months ago and Hunter  ended up a shifter of unknown species who was transported to Nightshade, a literal city of monsters in a near-Earth dimension called Dev. Nightshade is filled with vampires, weres of all types, zombies, reverse tooth fairies, and yes, even Yetis.  Left somewhat amnesiac by the transition between dimensions, Hunter learns that having a job is high priority and becomes a finder for a fee.  Since Hunter doesn’t know what type of shifter he is, he can pass between territories when on a mission.

Still Hunter is depressed about his new status and, apparently permanent, new city.  He spends his time gambling and drinking, taking jobs when necessary to eat and pay the rent.  But all that changes when Hunter runs into a new arrival in Nightshade.  Sakari Karim has just been transported into Nightshade and Hunter fears leaving a “newbie” alone on the streets.  Plus it doesn’t hurt that Sakura is handsome and gay as well.

When Hunter is pressed into looking for the twin brother of a reverse tooth fairy, Sakura comes along to help.  Will Sakari change Hunter’s luck?  Will Hunter and Sakari ever find out what type of weres they are?  Is romance in the cards for Hunter and Sakari?   Take a trip into the city of Nightshade for the answers and a ton of fun too!

I am a fan of Andrea Speed.  From Infected‘s Roan to Josh of the Damned and all manner of creatures in between, Andrea Speed’s inventive and somewhat warped mind continues to create some of the funniest, wildest, and over the top species and worlds around.

In City of Monsters, Speed returns to her Josh of the Damned universe, a place ruled by Medusa, the god who runs this particular universe.  Nightshade the city is full of dark towers, condominiums for the unearthly, the slums of Dog Town where packs of werewolves roam and trash piles up to the ordered and upscale vampire district where vampire run casinos are always open and suckers are not always willing.  All types of beings go about their businesses here, including several that we have meet before in the Josh of the Damned series, like the lizard people, the reverse tooth  fairies and the Yeti.  I couldn’t have been happier to have them back.

Into this maelstrom of the supernatural and unearthly are plopped former human beings who were unlucky enough to have a magical animal attack/encounter on Earth and have been transformed into a type of were or supernatural being.  Upon being bitten or what have you, the unlucky person is transferred to Dev almost immediately, losing most of their memories in the process.  What a shock to the system and that has made Hunter an unhappy boy!  I love that Speed brings this weirdly attractive and out of whack place vividly to life.   Nightshade itself is easily pictured from the clear images her descriptions convey.  There is the classy vampire district that lies next to Dog Town, a smelly place where the werewolves pee constantly marking their territory and the buildings resemble that of a slum.  The intersection of Pierce Avenue and Barker Lane mark the division of territories…of course!  The vampire boss of the casino is  called Macula (duh) whose gang of poseurs calls itself Bloody Monday, a criminal gang called the Lobos that operates out of dog town, and Mustafa, a vegan vampire who faints at the sight of blood and favors Hawaiian shirts, sno cones,  while trying to stay out of everyones way.

In Andrea Speed’s world, no detail is too small to play with, no large element too big to get its own makeover ala Nightshade style.  It’s funny, sometimes priceless and yes, there’s a romance as well.  Hunter is depressed, lonely, and constantly plagued by his possessed blender for fresh fruit to make smoothies. Yep, one of the funniest characters is Blender, a happy, fruit loving blender with a need to please and make delightful concoctions.  A true favorite of mine! Back to Hunter, he is also an out of control gambler who tries to forget his woes at the local vampire casinos, never a good idea.  His occupation?  He finds things, creatures, what ever you want because he can cross territories that others cannot.  We don’t get a lot of back history on Hunter or even Sakari, because we can’t.  The trip in between dimensions robs them of their memories of their past lives for the most part.  So Nightshade really represents a tabula rasa for them.  It will be what they make of it, if they survive that is.

I wish that Hunter and Sakari had more time together to make the burgeoning romance between them more a thing of  sexual heat and attraction than circumstance and availability.  I really liked what I learned of Sakari, including an ongoing need for an adrenaline rush.  Had this story been enlarged a bit to include more of their new life together, that would have made their relationship feel more authentic than it does in places here.  But if the romance comes across a little less substantial, Speed makes up for it with her hysterical and addictive characters.  Terry the reverse tooth fairy missing her twin brother Larry. Wulf the head of the Lobo gang and all are unable to make their cell phones work.  Why?  No one is sure but “they bet Verizon is involved”.

I laughed, I guffawed, and had to keep going back to reread certain paragraphs that I missed because I was giggling too hard to read.  I only wish that Josh and the others had shown up as well.  Then this would have been perfect.  As it is Dev and the city of Nightshade are locations that I can never visit frequently enough.  I leave the stories wanting more of the characters, their wild new lives, and wanting to see all the city inhabitants I haven’t met yet.  I want to know where the Yetis live and the lizard people too.  More I say, much, much more, please!

If you are looking for romance alone, this might not be the story for you.  But if you love to laugh, enjoy clever jokes and a neat turn of phrase , zany storylines, as well as characters you will never forget, then Andrea Speed should be a “go to”  author for you.  Enjoy the insanely delicious bon mots that are tossed here and there, the cultural references obscure and common, and the creativity that flows from start to end.  I loved it and read it twice to get all the bits and pieces I missed the first time around.  For bonus stories, also pick up the Josh of the Damned stories, short reads all but irresistibly hard to put down.

Cover art by Simone.  Loved it, what a fun graphic!

Note:  This title is part of the My Haunted Blender’s Gay Love Affair, and Other Twisted Tales collection. – See more at Riptide Publishing City of Monsters page. 
Sales Links:   Riptide Publishing          All Romance eBooks (ARe)         Amazon             City of Monsters

Andrea Speed’s Josh of the Damned series include:

Josh of the Damned Triple Feature #1
Peek-A-Boo (Josh of the Damned #2)
Josh of the Damned #3.5: Night of the Dust Bunnies
Josh of the Damned Triple Feature #2: The Final Checkout

Book Details:

ebook, 80 pages
Published August 11th 2014 by Riptide Publishing
original titleCity of Monsters
ISBN139781626491786
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://www.riptidepublishing.com/

Book Blast: Satyr’s Lure by Anya Richards (tour and contest)

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Stopping by on tour is Anya Richards with an excerpt and contest to go along with her release, Satyr’s Lure.  Enter to win an eBook copy of Anya Richard’s novel, Dragon’s Claim.  Enter here or use the Rafflecopter link provided  below.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter. 

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Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22892089-satyr-s-lure?ac=1
Author Name: Anya Richards

Author Bio:

After living a checkered past, and despite an avowed disinterest in domesticity, multi-published erotic romance author Anya Richards settled in Ontario, Canada, with husband, kids, an adorable pup and two cats that plots world domination, one food bowl at a time. Her slightly darker alter-ego, Anya Delvay, emerges occasionally to write erotica.

Interested in all things historical and hysterical, Anya describes herself as intensely curious, (although the word ‘nosy’ has been bandied about) and a life-long people-watcher. Using what she’s discovered about people, places and various weird and wonderful things, Anya has written contemporary, historical and paranormal/fantasy romance novels, novellas and short stories for Samhain Publishing, Ellora’s Cave, Cleis Press and Spice Briefs.

Author Contact:
To find out more, please drop by Anya’s website at http://www.anyarichards.com, follow her on Twitter or like her on Facebook.

Saytr's Lure CoverTitle:  Satyr’s Lure by Anya Richards
Publisher: Self-published

Cover Artist: Lea Barrymire

Sales Links:  Smashwords         All Romance (ARe)             Amazon

Blurb:
Summer in the high mountain pastures, in the shadow of ancient Greece’s Mount Parnassus, is usually Iason’s favorite time of year. A time when he feels happiest, surrounded by nature and free to take a lover from among the other shepherds. But this year he’s chosen his companion poorly and the resulting scars, of both body and soul, have left him questioning his worth.

It is only in the arms of the enigmatic and enthralling stranger Telesphoros, who rescues him from a storm, that Iason begins to heal. Yet the secrets both men hide overshadow the magic of their encounter, and foreshadow the heartache to come.

 

 

 Satyr’s Lure Excerpt:

The tenor of the music changes, seems to call to me once more, and I am bound to heed the summons. Turning my head, I squint to see beyond the fire pit in the center of the small room. Through the heat-haze I see a man seated on the floor, the pipes to his lips. Only his face and upper torso are visible above the leaping flames, but looking at him causes a rush of something wild and hot to flood my veins.

There is the impression of a radiant, powerful face, a nose like the blade of a scythe, high, finely wrought cheekbones and black curls falling to almost impossibly broad shoulders. But those attributes are cast into shadow by the dark, sparkling eyes, deep-set and compelling, which meet my gaze and hold it in an unwavering stare. My heart pauses between one beat and the next, then begins to rush. Looking into those eyes is like falling off a cliff or being swept away by a torrent—completely overwhelming.

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Tour Dates: August 28, 2014

Tour Stops: Parker Williams, Velvet Panic, Prism Book Alliance, Cate Ashwood, Jade Crystal, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, MM Good Book Reviews, Fallen Angel Reviews, Carly’s Book Reviews, Andrew Q. Gordon, Amanda C. Stone, For the Love of Bookends, Wicked Wolves and Dreaming Dragons, Up All Night, Read All Day, Love Bytes, Up All Night, Read All Day, Michael Mandrake, It’s Raining Men,

Rafflecopter Code:  An ebook copy of “Dragon’s Claim”.  Use the rafflecopter link to enter and for additional contest details.Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.
a Rafflecopter giveaway  Rafflecopter Prize: Copy of ‘Dragon’s Claim’

VBT: Designs On You by Carrie Pack (contest)

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Author Carrie Pack is here on tour.  She sat down in the Scattered Thoughts Interchair, answered some questions about herself, her latest release and writing. There is also a wonderful contest to enter consisting of several Barnes & Noble gift cards and ebooks of Designs on You.  Make sure you check out the contest prizes and Rafflecopter link at the bottom of the post as well as the book excerpt and author information. Now on to our interview!

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A Carrie Pack Interview: Writing Designs On You

Melanie: What was your inspiration for the story?

Carrie Pack: Designs on You was inspired by my experience working as a production artist and graphic designer right out of college. I worked for a national retailer creating print ads, designing signage, and scanning photos.

It was interesting work, but it could also be tedious; I did a lot of repetitive tasks. And sometimes I would get crazy requests for retouching that meant zooming in on model’s crotches or putting one man’s head on another man’s body.

When I got the idea for a story about a graphic designer falling for a model, I gave him the task of retouching, which is both challenging and monotonous. I really started to think about what it would be like for someone to be stuck in a rut professionally, doing a job very similar to mine, while also being stuck in a rut romantically. How would that play out? Who would that person be?

Melanie:  Do you work on one project at a time or many?

Carrie Pack:  I tend to focus on just one project at a time, and if I have more than one thing I need to complete, I have to take a break between projects to reset. It’s hard for me to switch gears quickly. I need to get in the right mindset to work on something. When it comes to writing, I like to devote entire days to that project. If I try to switch gears and write something else, or in a different style, it’s hard for me to find the right voice for each project.

Melanie:  Hero or Antihero? Who would you chose and why?

Carrie Pack:  Antihero. Every time. I think it’s because antiheroes tend to be more complex, both in their motivations and their actions. It’s moral gray area, which to me, is more human. Heroes usually have very black-and-white decisions to make, but an antihero may do something immoral, yet have reasons behind their actions that complicate the issue. The interesting thing about an antihero is they have the opportunity to become either a hero or a villain, and I’m always intrigued to see how that turns out.

Melanie:  People say write what you know. Do you think that’s right or even important?

Carrie Pack:  I think it is important, to an extent, but it’s not the only thing. Did JK Rowling write what she knew? Yes and no. Obviously she crafted an entirely new world, but Hogwarts is also based on the English education system. Instead of A-levels, they take OWLs and NEWTs. So she added elements of what she knew to her fictionalized world.

I think the most successful fantasy and sci-fi books anchor themselves in reality. That way readers can recognize their own world within the pages of the fantasy realm.

With Designs on You, I used my personal, real-life experiences to shape a fictional world. My hope is that the real-world details help to make Scott and Jamie feel real to them so that they’re along for the ride when the completely fictional events happen.

Melanie:  What is the first book you read that really meant something to you?

Carrie Pack: I have vivid memories of reading the other books in L. Frank Baum’s Oz series and realizing that there was more to the story than Dorothy’s quest to return to Kansas. In particular, I was hooked on The Scarecrow of Oz. I think I checked it out of my school library so many times, the entire card was filled with my name and a series of dates. I loved the idea that a story could continue and evolve after the main quest was over. Perhaps that’s why I enjoyed Wicked so much when it first came out, and I still read fanfiction as an adult. I want more.

Melanie:  What do you find sexy in a man?

Carrie Pack:  A sense of humor. My husband makes me laugh every day, and it keeps things fresh. Physically, though… I truly enjoy a good butt, especially if the man also has really nice legs.

Melanie:  What’s next up for you?

Carrie Pack:  Well, school starts in about a week—I’m a part-time college professor—so I’m sure I’ll be knee-deep in grading before I know it. In my free time, I hope to continue work on a science-fiction story I’ve been tinkering with. It involves time travel, which is something I’ve always wanted to write but have been a bit scared to try. It’s going to be one hell of an adventure for me to write it. But I have a really great idea that I’m excited to flesh out. Stay tuned!

Melanie:  Thanks for the wonderful interview.  For more about Carrie Pack and her latest book, Designs On You, keep reading for book details and an excerpt!

Cover_DesignsOnYouDesigns on You  by Carrie Pack
Publisher:  Interlude Press

Sales Link: Interlude Press Store  Amazon   Barnes & Noble

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BLURB:

If graphic designer Scott Parker has to design one more cupcake company logo, he might lose it. So when he is tasked with retouching photos for a big fashion client, a stunning, lanky model mesmerizes Scott and occupies his fantasies long after the assignment is finished.

When the model is assigned to one of Scott’s projects, Scott discovers that the object of his desire is nothing like what he imagined. Despite Jamie Donovan’s aloof and dismissive behavior, Scott struggles to forge a friendship with him, all the while trying to keep his attraction at bay.

Will Jamie follow through on signals that he may be interested, or will he forever be the beautiful man in the photograph, an untouchable fantasy?

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Excerpt:

The model turns his head to follow Isaac’s gaze. And, of course… it’s Jamie. Scott’s intake of breath is so sharp that he has to cough to cover the sound. Because Jamie Donovan is even more beautiful in person.

Scott stares open-mouthed for a minute.

Jamie purses his lips and raises both his eyebrows when he sees Scott standing there, obviously confused by his presence, or perhaps annoyed at the blatant ogling that Scott is indulging in. He looks down to Isaac, giving him the same questioning look.

“This is Scott Parker, our art director for the day,” Isaac mumbles around the pins between his lips. He flips a strand of hair out of his face, but it immediately falls back to its original position.

Scott steps forward and smiles. “Yvonne’s got the flu,” he says, unable to think of anything else to say.

“I know,” Isaac replies. “She fill you in on the concept?”

Scott nods. He needs to give him Yvonne’s notes and try to get organized for the shoot, but instead, he walks around behind Isaac and takes in the full outfit: skinny-legged grey trousers and a jacket that looks to be a cross between a leather bomber and a straightjacket. It looks amazing on Jamie.

“Hi,” Scott says, extending his hand.

Jamie looks down at it like it might burn him and slowly drags his eyes back up to Scott’s face.

“Charmed,” he says with a lifted eyebrow. His voice isn’t as deep as Scott would have thought, but it has a seductive, raspy quality.

Scott’s eyes follow Jamie as he leans forward to look in the mirror, attempting to fix his already flawless hair. It’s swooped up in an overdramatic pompadour that should look ridiculous, but Scott thinks it looks perfect, and he almost says so before he realizes he’s still holding his hand out and Jamie has completely left him hanging.

Scott slowly withdraws his hand and shoves it unceremoniously into his pocket. “Likewise,” he mumbles under his breath.

Yvonne wasn’t kidding. This kid’s an ice queen. It’s kind of annoying. It’s also kind of hot.

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AUTHOR Bio and Links:

A former graphic artist, Carrie Pack turned to her early career experience as the backdrop for her first novel. She lives in Florida with her husband, where she teaches advertising writing at a local college.

Contest: Carrie will be awarding a $25 Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour, and a $25 Barnes and Noble GC and a print edition of Designs on You (US ONLY) to a randomly drawn host. A free download of an Interlude Press eBook title or an author/book swag pack (US ONLY) will be awarded to one randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter at each stop during the tour.

VBT_DesignsOnYou_CoverBannerMust be 18 years of age or older to enter.  Use the Rafflecopter link provided below for the entry form and additional contest details.

Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here:

August 18: Books on Silver Wings

August 19: Fire and Ice Book Reviews
August 19: Long and Short Reviews
August 20: Carly’s Book Reviews
August 21: Hearts On Fire Reviews
August 22: Words of Wisdom from The Scarf Princess
August 25: Booklover Sue
August 25: Full Moon Dreaming
August 26: Mia Downing
August 27: Happily Ever After
August 28: ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords
August 29: It’s Raining Books

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