A Stella Review: The Wish Auger by Cecil Wilde

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Wish AugerGabriel Juarez has only one wish for Christmas, uttered moments before midnight on Christmas Eve: a hug. He wakes up the next morning to find his wish being haphazardly granted in the form of an insecure elf called Felix, who works as a wish augur and couldn’t bring himself to let Gabe’s wish go unfulfilled.

A knitting elf? I’m a goner. How cute is it?

The Wish Augur by Cecil Wilde is a short Christmas story.

Gabe has no family, no friends (except Maria), a crappy job with crappy coworkers and a crappy apartment. Shortly, his life sucks. He writes comics in his free time, hoping it could become his true work. He’s lonely and sad, spending the Christmas Eve in bed crying and cursing his life.

“I want… All I want for Christmas right now is a hug.”

On Christmas morning he wakes with someone wrapped around him. Who is the blond haired, blue eyes guy in his bed?
Felix is one of Santa’s elves, a wish augur elf come from the North Pole to Gabe’s home to fulfill his request of a hug. He just wants Gabe to spend a perfect Christmas.

There are a lot of things I loved in this story. First of all the characters: Felix is exuberant, full of energy and at the same time insecure. Gabe squeezed my heart in the first pages of the book and it was wonderful to see him starting to believe in this “hugs dispenser” and becoming happier and self assured.

I liked all the little details the author added to the story: the fireworks scene, the decorations’ choice and the fantastic use Felix do of the magic (pancakes from nowhere and high speed knitting).

Since I’m a naughty girl, I loved the short and funny sex scene.

Being so short I can understand there was no space for more informations about Felix’s world, but I’m sure we could get more about this cute couple in a sequel, cause I loved the end so much and it would be wonderful to see them again in their new life together.

A quick, magical Christmas story. Highly recommended.

COVER DESIGNED by Aisha Akeju. I like this artist’s work a lot. So far she designed covers that fit the stories I read perfectly. In particular I like this one cause I can see something magical in it and at the same time it’s simple and cozy. That bed draws a lot of hugs.

Sales Links:   Less Than Three Press   All Romance (ARe)    Amazon    Buy It here

Book Details:
Published December 17th 2014 by Less Than Three Press, LLC
Kindle Edition, 44 pages
ASIN B00PPH99SM
Edition language English

 

Down Under Showcase Author – RJ Jones

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Meet R J  Jones!

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R.J. Jones  is the new author of Out of the Blue and Black and Bluhe, both coming in 2015.

To get to know Australian author R.J. Jones a little better, she agreed to an interview. Look for the interview below and the Down Under Scavenger Hunt word found somewhere within.

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Author Bio 1

I started as a reader and eventually made the progression to reviewing. It wasn’t until two men pop into my thoughts, insisting on telling me their story that I started to write. It started with one scene. A hot and dirty one in the shower.

My initial thought was if I could write their scene then they’d shut up and allow me to concentrate on other aspects of my day. That shower scene was 3000 words long and three hours of work.  But they didn’t shut up.  They told me their entire story and I didn’t sleep for days.  Sometimes I couldn’t keep up with what they were telling me and I had to keep a notebook by my bed.

Whilst I was writing their story a side character decided he needed his story told too. Then other characters followed suit.

You see the problem? If I ever want to sleep again then I need to write.

I’m a wife and a mother to two boys. Even my dog is a boy.

I am surrounded by males.

Author Contacts

 

 

Author Books Stories Down Under1 copy

Novel Length:

Out Of The Blue – Release Feb 15

Out of the BlueLt Cameron Cooper has been with the San Francisco Fire Department for fifteen years. He’s seen and dealt with a lot of horrifying situations. He’s always considered himself mentally tough, but when he attends a multi-vehicle accident and sees a dead boy with features remarkably similar to his long-time boyfriend, his mental health takes a hit.

All Jake Montgomery wants is to propose to his boyfriend on their ten-year anniversary. He’s already bought the perfect rings, but when Cameron struggles to look at him after a tragic accident, he has doubts about their future. Cam is withdrawing, and Jake doesn’t know why.

With heated arguments and cold shoulders, Cam and Jake’s life starts to fall apart. Just when Cam thinks he can overcome his issues and finally talk to Jake, memories from Jake’s past threaten to push them apart forever.

 

  • Black and Bluhe – Release Mid 15 March!
  • The One That I Want – It’s based on the musical Grease.
    Publication date – 20 March.

Genres:

• Contemporary

 

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Contests and Giveaways:

1. Today’s Giveaway (thank you, RJ Jones) is an eBook copy of  Out Of The Blue’,  eBook copy emailed upon release. Enter using this Rafflecopter link here. Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

2. Down Under Scavenger Hunt – find the Hunt “Word“. Collect all the words from each author and submit the list in writing no later than midnight on February 1st. Make sure you include an email address where you can be reached. Prizes will be given to 5 people selected, from 1st place to 5th! Happy Hunting.

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Author Qand A

Were you a reader as a child?  

Yes.  I read all the time. I remember being told off for reading a storybook during church on a Sunday morning.  My mum wasn’t impressed.

 Q• Title or characters or plot?  Which comes first?

Geez, that’s a hard one. My first novel, the characters came first, then the plot. The title went through a few changes until one stuck. I’ve just written a short story and the title didn’t come until about a week after I finished writing. And I’ve just had the premise for a new story based on the title of a song I heard on the radio. It’s been very random for me.

 Q• What inspired you to write your first book?

Would you believe porn? I’m serious… sort of. I saw a video with Jake Bass and at the same time I was thinking about a scene a friend of mine was having trouble with. I ended up with these two men in my head and I thought if I could just write it down they’d shut up. They didn’t, and now they have their own novel.  One of the MC’s is called Jake.

Q. What’s your favorite spot to visit in your own country? And what makes it so special to you?

There’s a town called Dunsborough in western Australia which is about 3 hrs drive south from where I live. It’s little and right on the ocean. We usually stay close to town and it’s a short walk to a sheltered bay. Even in winter it’s beautiful. The ocean is endless blue and the sand is pure white. I love the surrounding townships and it’s such a great place to rest and relax. I’d move there tomorrow if I could.

Q. What are your current projects?

 Currently editing my second novel, but I have three stories in some stage of writing. One is just started, one has stalled and one is about half way through.  I’m excited for all my books as each and every one one is different with different characters. It’s very exciting to see the people who live in your head come to life

Our Final Day of the Down Under Author Showcase-Welcome, RJ Jones and AUS/NZ Facts of the Day!

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January 31st – Down Under Authors Showcase Final Day

Welcome, R.J. Jones!

Today brings to a close the wonderful Down Under Authors Showcase at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words. My thanks to all the great authors who participated, sharing their thoughts, stories, and giving away their precious books as well. All the reviewers here at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words, including myself, have found new authors and books to love and we hope that you have done the same.

We’ve gone from the Northern Territory of Australia to the beaches of the South, from the shores and cities like Christchurch of New Zealand into the pastures and mountainsides of that uniquely gorgeous and largely uninhabited country. We’ve had amazing and fun facts about both countries and had to look for some Down Under words and phrases for the Down Under Scavenger Hunt. What fact stuck with you? Was it the one about wombat poop? Or the world’s largest insect? Who has the most Scottish piping bands? And have you learned a little Aussie or Kiwi words to mingle in with your every day vocabulary? Send us an email and let us know which authors are new discoveries for you, new books you put on your TBR pile and any other comments you want to share! We’re going to do this again next year, so all suggestions are helpful.

R. J. Jones has a wonderful bio and new books about to be released! Check out her author’s page to follow along with her bio, books, and interview. Oh, and of course, her giveaway! The authors showcased this week will have extra time added to their contests so more can enter.

Look for another post about the contests, notifications, and prizes on February 1st. My thanks also to the Embassy of Australia and the Embassy of New Zealand (in DC) for their contributions to our prize packages. Their media staff couldn’t have been lovelier. My thanks also to Bottom Drawer Publications and Wayward Ink Publications for their contests and giveaways as well. I’ve loved every bit of this month and hope you all have too!

Now onto our last Australia and New Zealand facts of the day, at least until next year!

Australia Facts of the Day – The Echidna and The Platypus

Some of Australia’s best-known animals are the kangaroo, koala, echidna, dingo, platypus, wallaby and wombat. We’ve shared facts about the dingo (see John Wiltshire’s page). We’ve talked about wombat poop! How about a little about the Platypus and Echidna, the world’s only egg-laying mammals?

The Echidna
Echidna’s lifespan is over 45 years, and grow up to 20″ in length
Their tongue is very long and sticky and is perfect for catching the hundreds of termites and ants that make up their staple diet.echidna2
An echidna can lift objects twice its weight, drink water and can swim.
Like the male Platypus, the male echidna has spurs, but has no venom glands attached to them
Echidna is slightly less intelligent than a cat
Mating takes place Belly-to-belly, which avoids the male spiking himself on the female’s spines-Echidna sex fact!
The echidna is best known not only as a mascot of Sydney Olympic Games 2000, but also for its amazing biology. Like the platypus, this unusual mammal lays eggs and suckles its young. The echidna and platypus are the only members of a primitive group of mammals known as monotremes.echidna5

Echidnas are widely distributed throughout Australia and Tasmania. Although not commonly seen, they are not considered threatened. They live in a wide variety of habitats, from cold mountainous peaks to deserts.

They usually found in places with a good supply of ants and termites, where it lies on an ant-mound, sticks out its tongue and lets ants walk onto it. Echidnas have no teeth. It crushes its insect food between horny plates on its tongue and the roof of its mouth.

The Platypus!

The platypus is among nature’s most unlikely animals. In fact, the first scientists to examine a specimen believed they were the victims of a hoax. The animal is best described as a hodgepodge of more familiar species: the duck (bill and webbed feet), beaver (tail), and otter (body and fur). Males are also venomous. They have sharp stingers on the heels of their rear feet and can use them to deliver a strong toxic blow to any foe.platypus_662_600x450

Platypuses hunt underwater, where they swim gracefully by paddling with their front webbed feet and steering with their hind feet and beaverlike tail. Folds of skin cover their eyes and ears to prevent water from entering, and the nostrils close with a watertight seal. In this posture, a platypus can remain submerged for a minute or two and employ its sensitive bill to find food.

These Australian mammals are bottom feeders. They scoop up insects and larvae, shellfish, and worms in their bill along with bits of gravel and mud from the bottom. All this material is stored in cheek pouches and, at the surface, mashed for consumption. Platypuses do not have teeth, so the bits of gravel help them to “chew” their meal.

map-platypus-160-20148-cb1273171934On land, platypuses move a bit more awkwardly. However, the webbing on their feet retracts to expose individual nails and allow the creatures to run. Platypuses use their nails and feet to construct dirt burrows at the water’s edge.

Platypus reproduction is nearly unique. It is one of only two mammals (the echidna is the other) that lay eggs.

Females seal themselves inside one of the burrow’s chambers to lay their eggs. A mother typically produces one or two eggs and keeps them warm by holding them between her body and her tail. The eggs hatch in about ten days, but platypus infants are the size of lima beans and totally helpless. Females nurse their young for three to four months until the babies can swim on their own.

New Zealand Fact and Unique Animal of the Day – The Tuatara!

 

The tuatara may look like a rather ordinary reptile, but it’s a highly unusual creature. This New Zealand native has a unique, ancient lineage that goes back to the time of the dinosaurs.Tuatara-4-660x495

There are two living species of tuatara, Sphenodon punctatus and the much rarerSphenodon guntheri, or Brothers Island tuatara, which is found only on North Brother Island in Cook Strait.

Mature tuataras usually measure between 12 and 30 inches long and weigh between 0.5 and two and a half pounds. Their skin is greenish gray and is sometimes speckled. Tuataras make their homes in coastal forest and low scrub, preferring areas with crumbly soil in which they can burrow.

1. The tuatara may look like a lizard, but it’s unique. The tuatara is not a lizard; it is the only living member of the order Rhynchocephalia, which flourished around 200 million years ago. All other members of the order became extinct 60 million years ago, in the late Cretaceous period.

2. The name “tuatara” comes from the Maori for “peaks on the back.” Tuataras have spiny crests along their backs made from soft, triangular folds of skin. These spines are more prominent in males, who can raise them during territorial or courtship displays.

3. They are surprisingly long-lived. Tuataras mature slowly and don’t stop growing until they reach about 30 years old. It is thought they can live up to 100 years in the wild. Part of the reason for their longevity may be their slow metabolism. Tuataras can tolerate much lower temperatures than most reptiles and they hibernate during the winter. The body temperature of tuataras can range from 41-52 °F over the course of a day, whereas most reptiles have body temperatures around 68 °F. This low body temperature results in a slower metabolism.

4. They have a third eye. The tuatara has a third eye on the top of its head called the parietal eye. This eye has a retina, lens, cornea, and nerve endings, but it is not used for vision. The parietal eye is only visible in hatchlings, as it becomes covered in scales and pigments after four to six months. Its function is a subject of ongoing research, but it is believed to be useful in absorbing ultraviolet rays and in setting circadian and seasonal cycles.

5. They can regrow lost tails. The tuatara can break off its tail when caught by a predator and regenerate it later.

6. They have unusual teeth that can’t be replaced. Tuataras have a single row of teeth on the lower jaw and a double row of teeth on the upper jaw, with the bottom row fitting between the two upper rows when the mouth is closed. It’s a tooth arrangement not seen in any other reptile. And unlike all other living toothed reptiles, the tuatara’s teeth are not separate structures but sharp projections of the jaw bone. This means that worn down or broken teeth cannot be replaced. Older tuataras with worn-down teeth have to switch from eating hard insects to softer prey such as earthworms, larvae, and slugs.

7. Tuataras reproduce slowly. They take 10-20 years to reach sexual maturity. Males can mate every year, but females breed every two to five years. It takes the female between one and three years to provide eggs with yolk, and up to seven months to form the shell. Then it takes an additional 12 to 15 months from copulation to hatching, possibly the longest incubation rate of any reptile.

A male tuatara named Henry, living at the Southland Museum and Art Gallery, became a first-time father at the age of 111. He fathered 11 babies with a female named Mildred, believed to be in her seventies.

8. They’re diurnal when young, nocturnal as adults. Hatchling tuataras are believed to be active during the day to avoid the cannibalistic adult tuataras that come at out night.

9. They cohabitate with birds. Tuataras can dig their own burrows, but also use the burrows of seabirds for shelter when available. The seabirds’ guano provides an attractive environment for the invertebrates that tuataras prey upon, such as beetles, crickets, and spiders. Tuataras will also sometimes eat the eggs and young of the seabirds.

10. Tuataras’ worst enemies are rats. Tuataras once inhabited the New Zealand mainland as well as offshore islands. But when the first humans arrived from Polynesia, they brought rats and other animals that devoured tuatara eggs and hatchlings. The situation was so dire that the New Zealand government fully protected tuataras in 1895. Despite the protection, tuataras were extinct on the mainland and confined to around 30 offshore islands until the first mainland release of tuataras into a sanctuary in 2005. Three years later, a tuatara nest was uncovered, thought to be the first case of a tuatara successfully breeding on the New Zealand mainland in over 200 years. Along with captive breeding and release programs, attempts to eradicate rats from offshore islands have also met with success and allowed tuatara populations to rebound.

 

Now onto R. J. Jones and the rest of our Down Under Author Showcase!  G’day!

 

Barb, A Zany Old Lady Review: Catch Me When I Fall by John Wiltshire

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Catch Me When I FallJake, a forest ranger and former Army Ranger, is shocked when what he thought was a meteor landed in his front yard. He was more shocked to discover that it wasn’t a meteor, but a man. In fact, it’s not really even a man—it’s an angel named Gabriel, not THE Gabriel, but it turns out to be Jake’s personal guardian angel, and he’s been kicked out of heaven for killing another angel in defense of a human—his human.

It seems Gabe loves Jake and, unfortunately, he let that be known up there so he’s gotten on the wrong side of the gates, so to speak. Actually, this is a great love story with both humor and angst and it caught me off-guard when I was expecting it to be very light and fluffy. It is, but it also has depth and character and becomes a gripping drama before it’s complete.

When Gabe forces Jake to remember an event that happened with a fellow soldier during the time he was deployed, an event in which the other soldier made a sexual advance and Jake rejected him, Jake starts to question his sexuality. Jake wants no part of being gay, no matter what—at least, that’s what he keeps saying. And even though it’s evident Gabriel is attracted to Jake, Jake refuses to acknowledge a reciprocal attraction.

Gabe arranges for Jono, the man who made the sexual overtures to Jake years before, to come to visit Jake for a hiking trip and to bring his boyfriend along with him. When the foursome hit the woods, things change, and Jake starts to see that his outsides haven’t matched his insides in a number of years. He is attracted to Jono, but it turns out that it’s Gabe he wants. And he can’t have him. Gabe has to go back. He’s inhabited the body of a young man who’s being kept in a dream state, and Gabe knows that’s wrong.

What happens and how it all works out makes this a story well worth reading. It’s fun. It’s heartbreaking, and it’s magical. I have to add a side note here about Bob, the dog. Gabe’s conversations with Bob were classic! Between those, his earlier conversation with a bear, and later conversations with other critters, I couldn’t stop smiling.

I’d recommend this story to all those who enjoy a visit from the angels and those who love to see true love overcome all obstacles—earthly and otherwise.

Cover art by Deanna Jamroz – I found the cover to be very bland and not representative of the story. It would have been much better if there were at least angel wings or a representation of the forest since Jake is a ranger. At the very least, Bob or the bear could have been pictured as they spoke to the angel.

Sales Links:   MLR Press LLC      All Romance (ARe)        Amazon       Buy it here

Book Details

ebook, 110 pages
Published October 2014 by MLR Press
ASINB00ODF2U2E
edition languageEnglish

Note:  John Wiltshire is a STRW Down Under Author.

Down Under Showcase Author: Bette Browne

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Meet Bette Browne!

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Bette Browne is the author of Exposed, The Not Quite Shakespeare Anthology, Dirty Martini, among others listed below.

To get to know Bette Browne  a little better, the author agreed to write a guest post about Christmas in Australia. It’s a fascinating window into how much we differ and yet are so much alike. Look for that below and the Down Under Scavenger Hunt word found somewhere within.

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Author Bio 1

Bette Browne is wife to an extremely understanding husband and mother to two very tolerant children. In her mind they are the most accepting family in the world, allowing her the freedom to indulge her passion for fiction, whether it is reading or writing it.

 

She enjoys traditional male/female romances, but male/male is her passion. In her mind nothing is more erotic than two (or more) beautiful men finding love together.

 

For Bette, the fight for tolerance in all its guises is an important one, and hopefully her contribution, even if it is only in the form of the occasional love story, is one she will continue to happily find the time for.

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Author Contacts

Contact/Follow Bette Browne at:

Email: authorbettebrowne@gmail.com
Website (Blog): http://bettebrowne.blogspot.com.au
Facebook: https:www.facebook.com/bette.browne.1
Twitter: http://Twitter.com/bettebrowne
Goodreads: 12327021-bette-browne

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Author Books Stories Down Under1 copy

✍Bette Browne Books:

Second Chances Anthology (Dirty Martini) Bottom Drawer Publications
Dirty Martini (published at Bottom Drawer Publications):Dirty Martini cover

Blurb:

This story was originally included in the SECOND CHANCES Anthology released in August 2012 and has been individually released to celebrate BDP’s anniversary.

Daniel Fletcher knocks back his third vodka of the night after running into his ex out with the same lover he had found him with in their bed two months before. He’d ended their relationship that night but coming face to face with them still together makes the pain of the breakup still very real.

Nathan Smith has seen more men than he count drowning their sorrows in a bottle at his bar. He understands – he’s been there himself. One night a handsome brunette with sad blue eyes makes Nate want to assure him that everything will be okay. The connection he feels from a fleeting touch, as he walks the man out of the bar, shakes and stirs him in ways that he never expected.

What starts out as a means to forget might just be what they both need.

The Candidates *M/M Romance “Love Has No Boundaries” Story
Not Quite Shakespeare Anthology (The Jacobite)
Exposed (Love’s Landscapes Story)

Coming soon:
Bared (Exposed Sequel)

 

Genres: contemporary fiction, M/M romance

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Contests and Giveaways:

1. Today’s Giveaway (thank you, Bette Browne) is an eBook copy of the winner’s choice of  Dirty Martini, or even the anthology Second Chances (Dirty Martini is in it) . Enter using this Rafflecopter link here.

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Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.

2. Down Under Scavenger Hunt – find the Hunt “word or phrase” in bold green .

Collect all the words from each author and submit the list in writing no later than midnight on February 1st. Make sure you include an email address where you can be reached. Prizes will be given to 5 people selected, from 1st place to 5th! Happy Hunting.

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Christmas Down Under by Bette Browne

Christmas and summer, and why as an Australian the blend of the two is so incredibly important to me . . .

As you read this, you will most likely be trying to forget Christmas (or whichever holiday you might celebrate at this time of year). I know I do in the immediate days and weeks following it, happy to pack it away in neat boxes until next year. But as I write it is still looming in the very near future, barrelling down upon me so quickly that I feel if I blink I might miss it. As much as I love the holiday season, it makes me sweat big fat drops of perspiration (literally as well as figuratively—it is summer here right now after all) and causes my blood pressure to soar—but I really do love it, and all the crazy joy associated with it.

So why would I write about a holiday that will be well and truly over by the time anyone reads my words? Because if the Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words team want to showcase the differences between Australia (and New Zealand) and much of the rest of the world, i.e. the Northern Hemisphere, then Christmas in summer is one of them as far as I am concerned.

Picture this, it’s Christmas Eve, those nearest and dearest to you are done with work for the day, excited that they’re about to have a few days off, and have converged on your house this year, Eskys in tow (that’s a cooler, btw) loaded with icy cold beers??????????????????????????????????????? and bottles of wine, and maybe a kilo or two of fresh trawler-caught prawns. The kids—nieces, nephews, friends, whoever—already dressed in their swimsuits, have towels slung over their shoulders, but not for long. As soon as they get the okay from their parents, those towels are re-slung over the pool fence, or straight onto the ground, and the splashing begins—they won’t get out until you drag them out later that evening with threats that Santa won’t come if they are not in bed and asleep by midnight (although it will actually be 10 p.m.—sanity does prevail!). Of course, after all that activity sleep will come easy, and their pool-red eyes will close fast. Thank you! The adults enjoy the balmy evening sitting under the twinkling fairy lights strung around, occasionally slapping away a mosquito as twilight descends (Where are those mosquito coils again?), discussing in quiet tones how many presents are still left to be wrapped after the kids are asleep and what’s on the menu at their house tomorrow. That conversation might move to whether Uncle Jim (or Tom or Fred or . . .) will be joining the festivities this year, and how many beers he’ll drink before he becomes argumentative and wants to fight.

It’s still 30°C at nine p.m., and the forecast for tomorrow says it will be another hot one, maybe even reaching 42°C. As a few of you wander the neighbourhood, glass of wine in hand, to look at the Christmas lights on the houses, you all discuss how to beat the heat on the most-loved-day-of-the-year. Envy abounds that you have a pool, but it will be too hot to be in it if the temperature reaches that high. What will actually happen is that you’ll huddle away inside until late in the afternoon, leaving Uncle Jim snoring on the couch, and you’ll all pile in the car to go to the beach to enjoy both a swim and the cool sea breeze that will break the heat, and calm everyone’s escalating (by then) nerves. And then you’ll mosey on home, tired and sated, able to now utilise the pool and the outside entertaining area and graze on leftovers and finally relax.

It’s Christmas Day. Everyone in your house is still asleep, for how long you have no idea, but you’re awake, so you’re going to make the most of the slightly cooler morning and get a start on things. You drink your first cup of coffee looking at the flashing lights on the Christmas tree, happy that wrapping any extra presents is not something that needs to be done this morning—you were organised this year. Then you go to the kitchen.

Everyone’s awake now. Presents have been opened, and the kids are enjoying the spoils of the day. It’s nice to have a moment to enjoy that—it’s maybe your favourite part of the whole silly season, even as they get older. But there is only so much time you can sit and relax.

The temperature is rising, and as you move around the kitchen and perspiration begins to cover your body, it is finally time to turn on the air-conditioner. It would be miserable today without it; besides, you need to try and fight the heat of the oven cooking the turkey and roasted vegetables you just can’t do without. That’s certainly a tradition you have never been able to let go of. Many have, because really who would cook a roast dinner during the hottest part of the year, choosing instead to feast on the magnificent seafood so plentiful in this part of the world. But you love it, Christmas just isn’t the same without it, and you have the air-conditioning to help stave the heat.

Again you look at the clock (such a shame that even a day like today can’t run without one) and notice the guests will be arriving soon. Time to go and change into the lovely soft summer dress you decided on for the occasion.

Lunch is served. Well not really, it’s later than that. It’s been just too hot to eat—and you’ve been nibbling all morning. But you look at your beautiful table, proud of your achievement. The lovely place settings, the bon bons, the lovely centrepiece, and the food, so much food—turkey, potatoes, gravy, ham, pork, vegetables, some seafood, salads, and more . . .

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As I read back over what I’ve just written, I wonder whether Christmas in Australia is actually any different at all to anywhere else in the world. Yes, the weather is hot, excruciatingly so at times, and that is a big difference, but in so many ways it’s the same: being overwhelmingly busy, threats that Santa won’t come if the kids aren’t asleep, the gifts, the food, Uncle Jim (and his drinking problem) . . .

I am fortunate enough to have experienced a Northern Christmas, and don’t get me wrong, I loved every moment of it, and would love to do it again one day, but would I trade? No. There was no riding of new Christmas bikes on the driveway, or beach swims at the end of the day, or even that leisurely stroll around the neighbourhood to view the Christmas lights. It just wasn’t he same. It didn’t herald the beginning of my children having their long summer break, or mark the end of yet another school year, or the precede the Boxing Day sales (similar to Black Friday in the USA).

I suppose what it boils down to is that Christmas, or anything else for that matter, is what you know along with memories forged over a lifetime. It’s what you have grown up with that makes something special, as well as the people you are able to spend it with.

Maybe one of the wonderful Down Under authors being showcased needs to write an appropriate Aussie/NZ Christmas tale. Now where is my notepad . . .?

Happy “belated” holidays!

Bette

[STRW Note: No, there are no misspellings, that’s the difference between US English and Down Under English (with differences still between NZ and AUS.}]

Down Under Showcase – Day 30! Welcome, Bette Browne and AUS/NZ Facts of the Day

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It’s Day 30  of our Down Under Author Showcase.

Welcome, Bette Browne!

 

I can’t believe the month has gone so quickly and our time Down Under is almost finished.  I have love making the acquaintance of every single author who has participated.  Through their interviews and guest posts, bios and books, each has given me a different way to look at things as well as so many new books to put on my reading list.  I hope that they have done the same for you!  Two more authors to go.  Today let’s welcome, Bette Browne who is talking about Christmas Down Under!

You still have time to enter Bottom Drawer Publications contest, just go to the Down Under Author Showcase page and look for the Rafflecopter link.   Don’t forget as well to enter Wayward Ink Publications contest too!

Am I running out of facts for you?  No, I’m not, so onto our facts of the day.

AUS flag over countryAustralia Facts of the Day

The largest Greek population in the world beside Athens in Greece can be found in Melbourne Victoria.

The only nation-continent of 20 million people in the world.

The wattle was adopted as the national floral emblem in 1912.  Does the US have a national floral symbol?the Golden Wattle

The first Australian Friendly Society with the motto of ‘Advance Australia’ was the Australian Natives’ Association (ANA) formed in Victoria in 1871.

More than 80 percent of Australians live within 100 kilometres of the coast making Australia one of the world’s most urbanised coastal dwelling populations.

 

kiwi and NZ country

 

New Zealand Facts of the Day

Baldwin Street, in Dunedin, is the world’s steepest street. The road has a gradient of 1 in 2.86 at its steepest section, a 38 per cent grade.  What is a certain street in San Francisco known for?

Baldwin Street NZ

From 1867 to 1927, the government planed ahead for shipwrecks by building supply-filled huts on remote islands.
There is a clock in Dunedin which has been running since 1864, despite never having been wound since it was made.
Gisborne airport has train tracks running across the middle of the runway. Quite often, trains and planes have to stop until one moves out of the way.

 

Back to Cambridge with Charlie Cochrane and Lessons for Survivors! (contest)

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Jonty and Orlando are Back In Lessons for Survivors!

Charlie Cochrane’s Cambridge Fellows Mysteries are a favorite of mine!  Each book is a treasure, waiting for the reader to  discover what mysteries are in store for two utterly captivating characters, Jonty and Orlando.

About Lessons for Survivors

A more than professional interest . . . a more than personal intrigue.

Orlando Coppersmith should be happy. WWI is almost a year in the past, he’s back at St. Bride’s College in Cambridge, his lover and best friend Jonty Stewart is at his side again, and—to top it all—he’s about to be made Forster Professor of Applied Mathematics. And although he and Jonty have precious little time for an investigative commission, they can’t resist a suspected murder case that must be solved in a month so a clergyman can claim his rightful inheritance.

But the courses of scholarship, true love, and amateur detecting never did run smooth. Orlando’s inaugural lecture proves almost impossible to write. A plagiarism case he’s adjudicating on turns nasty with a threat of blackmail against him and Jonty. And the murder investigation turns up too many leads and too little hard evidence.

Orlando and Jonty may be facing their first failure as amateur detectives, and the ruin of their professional and private reputations. Brains, brawn, the pleasures of the double bed—they’ll need them all to lay their problems to rest.

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About Charlie Cochrane

As Charlie Cochrane couldn’t be trusted to do any of her jobs of choice—like managing a rugby team—she writes, with titles published by Carina, Samhain, Bold Strokes, MLR and Cheyenne.

Charlie’s Cambridge Fellows Series of Edwardian romantic mysteries was instrumental in her being named Author of the Year 2009 by the review site Speak Its Name. She’s a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Mystery People, International Thriller Writers Inc and is on the organising team for UK Meet for readers/writers of GLBT fiction. She regularly appears with The Deadly Dames.

Connect with Charlie:
Website:charliecochrane.co.uk/
Blog: charliecochrane.livejournal.com/
Twitter: @charliecochrane
Facebook profile page: facebook.com/charlie.cochrane.18
Goodreads: goodreads.com/goodreadscomcharlie_cochrane

Giveaway

Every comment on this blog tour enters you in a drawing for an e-book from Charlie Cochrane’s backlist (excepting Lessons For Survivors). Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on January 31. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries.

Lessons for Survivors is Book 9 in the Cambridge Fellows Mystery.  Reviews for all the stories can be found at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words.

 

The Adventures of Johnny Stewart Part 1

Johnny Stewart is the great nephew of Jonty Stewart. His four part story will be related by Mrs Cochrane, official biographer to the Stewart family, over the course of this year’s Cambridge Fellows series blog tour.

Roger Bradley looked out at the Thames, from his mother’s hotel suite. This was going to be a wearing evening and they hadn’t even got round to the dinner guests arriving, let alone sitting down. His godmother had burst her appendix, so a last minute replacement had to be found—probably in the form of cousin Mary—but worse still, Sophia was going to be here.

He’d be the one who’d have to take Sophia in on his arm, have to put up with her flirting all evening and, worse still, also have to contend with his mother’s insinuations about what a nice couple they’d make. She’d got brother Henry engaged to be married within a few months and therefore the possibility of grandchildren pretty well sewn up, so why make such a palaver with him?

And Johnny Stewart would be there. The evening had the potential to be disastrous.

“Are you even listening, Roger?” His mother’s voice cut into his thoughts.

“Of course,” he lied.

“And do you agree?” She fixed him with a gimlet gaze. What would he be letting himself in for if he just said “Yes”? It wasn’t worth the risk.

“Sorry, mother, you were right. I wasn’t paying attention.” He needed to defuse the potential explosion. “There was a rather pretty girl out on the embankment and I got a bit distracted.”

“Ah.” His mother’s tone softened. “All I said was that I suspect that in regard to your reference to your godmother’s medical condition, the word is appendices and not appendixes but we’ll let that go. Was she as pretty as Sophia?”

Roger narrowly avoided asking, “who?”, but he’d always been good at thinking on his feet and managed, “How can I answer that without getting myself into trouble with one or other of you? Would ‘equally pretty’ do?”

“A diplomatic answer, dear.” She sighed. “If only your cousin Mary were as pretty.”

I span round to answer her, then decided I preferred the view of the Thames to the view of a condescending maternal face.

“I hope Mary meets a duke one day, one who falls head over heels in love so she then makes a more brilliant marriage for herself than any other female in the family.”

“Since when have you appointed yourself as Mary’s knight in armour?” Roger’s mother’s voice was cool and languid, the one she adopted when she wanted to let his temper blow itself out.

“Since I was old enough to realise how rotten the family is to her. God preserve all spinsters and save them from the machinations of their married relatives.” Roger span on his heels. “This tie needs straightening.”

He ran into his maternal aunt on the way to finding a mirror, which was blessing in that she sorted it for him and kept him out of his mother’s way until he could calm down.

“I hear Johnny Stewart will be here tonight. I’ll enjoy sitting next to him. There.” Aunt Jacinta added the finishing touch to the bow.

“Better you than me. Johnny’s the most insufferable person it’s ever been my misfortune to come across.” Roger ran his hands through his hair.

“You must dislike him intensely,” his aunt said, drily, “to employ that particular gesture. You always used to do it as a lad when you came to stay and we presented you with something you didn’t want to eat. Or asked you a question you didn’t want to answer.”

He felt a bloody embarrassing flush rising up his neck; why did Aunt Jacinta always see straight through him? Did she know exactly what was going on inside his mind to make him so defensive?

Johnny bloody Stewart. Why had he got to keep coming back and making life so difficult?

Roger tried to rally. “Anyone would run their hands through their hair—or tear great clumps of it out—if they had to deal with him for any length of time. He was bad enough at school and hasn’t improved with maturity.”

“That sounds like you then, dear. Peas in a pod.” Aunt Jacinta fixed him with a smile like an auger. She might look one hundred and forty in her bombazine and lace, but that look, and the machinations of the mind behind it, could strike fear in any man.

“Just don’t vex him, would you, dear? If he’s hardly your favourite person, at least be polite.”

“I will do my utmost.” He swallowed hard. Normally, medical students would be beneath his mother’s notice, but this one being the great-grandson of a lord made a difference and she’d been delighted to invite him in the absences of Roger’s godfather, who was at his now hopefully appendix-less wife’s bedside.

How could Roger ever explain about Johnny? There were two insurmountable obstacles—finding the right words to make anyone else understand the feelings he’d had for Johnny since he first caught sight of him as a spotty youth of sixteen and having to deal with her inevitably negative reaction if he did get his point across. He supposed he was too old—and the matter too serious—to just get away with being taken over her knee, whacked, sent to his room and then allowed to come down half an hour later if he showed the right amount of contrition.

Not even Aunt Jacinta could be as understanding about things as to allow that.

Disgrace, disorder, his mother’s tears, his father’s horsewhip? Not that his father would actually resort to the whip, no matter how often he talked about using it on miscreants, although the outcome would be just about the same. Cut off without a penny and none of the Bradleys ever talking to him again. And while that idea might be an attractive one in the case of Uncle Frederick, the general aspect didn’t appeal.

Try as he might, Roger couldn’t think of any way to sweeten the pill, whatever words he could use to describe how he felt.
There was this chap at school, Stewart, J.O. Year below me; came to the school when I was seventeen. I liked the look of him from the start; he had an air about him, power restrained and all that. He matured and filled out a bit faster than more of the spotty oiks of his age. Lost most of the spots, too. Cocky little sod, though. Opinionated.

“Roger!”

“Yes, aunt?” His mind came back from school days to the present, and two females, his mother having appeared, trying to usher him out of the suite.

“Daydreaming again. His worst fault,” she said, bundling him through the door.

Roger reminded himself that if that remained her opinion of what was his worst fault, then all in the garden was still rosy.
***
Johnny was already in the foyer, chatting to Sophia. His dark blond hair was under control, for once, while his blue eyes seemed to dance with pleasure at the arrival of his hostess. Roger thought his heart was going to lunge straight through his rib cage.

“Mrs. Bradley!” He bowed over her hand. “Thank you so much for inviting me as locum tenens.”

“Thank you for stepping in.” Mrs. Bradley was clearly delighted. “Cousin Mary will be delighted to meet you.”

Johnny looked at Roger, one eyebrow raised. “I didn’t know you had a cousin, Roger. Where have you been hiding her?”

“Away from rogues like you. Sophia,” Roger said, heading off any comment Johnny was going to make, “you look lovely.”

“Thank you. It’s just an old thing.” She smoothed her dress, one which was clearly anything but old.

“Johnny,” Mrs. Bradley waved her hands airily, “would you be a sweetheart and take in Aunt Jacinta when we progress to dinner?”

“It would be my pleasure.” It sounded like it would be the highlight of Johnny’s evening. Roger wasn’t sure if his discomfort was irritation at his oiliness or simple jealousy. Why couldn’t he be on Johnny’s arm?

“I was sorry to hear about Mr. Bradley’s accident,” he continued. “He’s quite right to rest that leg up for a while. Sorry he’s missing all the fun, though. Was the matinee good?”

“Excellent thank you,” Mrs. Bradley purred, blossoming under the attention. Roger noted that every woman in the party had slowly drifted into Johnny’s vicinity, like bees after honey. Or wasps after jam. “Malcolm won’t be sorry he missed that part. He’s never one for the theatre, or for coming up to town in general.”

“Do you think he hurt his leg deliberately to get out of it? Shall I horsewhip him for you?” Maybe only Johnny could have said that and got away with it. Roger had met his great uncle, Jonty—when he was up at Cambridge—and the man was the same. Able to charm the birds from the trees.

“Only if he doesn’t enjoy the birthday dinner I have planned when we get home. And this is for me, of course. My friends. Old and new.” Mother looked graciously around her guests then took Detective Superintendent Matthew Firestone—her godfather’s—arm.

“I’m so pleased you could all come. Shall we go through? They’ve laid on some cocktails for us.”

“Oh, lovely,” Sophia said, slipping her arm through Roger’s. Johnny smirked at him, the swine, and they processed towards the private dining room.

The table looked lovely, but the cocktails looked even lovelier, if they’d help Roger cope with the twin trials of Sophia’s doe eyes and Johnny’s…everything. Roger had given up any hope of the bloke fancying him, but the chap could at least be civil.

Mary had arrived and Mrs. Bradley was asking how her journey from Loughton had been, with none of the gratitude on display she’d shown to Johnny.

“My mother pushes that poor girl from pillar to post.” Roger hissed at Matthew, wondering how many cocktails he could consume and still manage to get all his sibilants out. He managed to detach himself temporarily from Sophia on the pretext of circulating and was half way through his perambulations when the manager slipped into the room, making a beeline for Matthew. He appeared to be delivering some sort of intriguing message, given the expression on Matthew’s but before Roger could manoeuvre himself into hearing range, his mother nabbed him.

“Roger. Why did I never meet this delightful young man when you were at school together?”

“I didn’t realise it was de rigeur for me to bring everyone back for tea” Roger didn’t want to talk about Johnny Stewart, not when the half heard words being spoken over his shoulder were so much more interesting.

“I wish he had invited me. Did you have apple cake?” Johnny directed the questions at Roger’s mother, which at least saved him trying not to say, “I couldn’t trust myself enough to invite you.”

“I wish Roger had. It would have made a change from some of the spotty specimens he dragged along.”

Roger bridled. How ridiculous, his own mother flirting with a man young enough to be her son! He rolled his eyes, but the protest he wanted to make got cut off, as Matthew cuffed him on the shoulder.

“Sorry to interrupt. Got a question for you. Did Ivor Gregg seem quite himself at the matinee?”

Roger frowned. “Quite himself? I think so. In good voice, as ever.”

“He was marvellous,” Mrs. Bradley said, girlishly.

“Why do you ask?” And why had Matthew adopted his professional, rather than avuncular, tones?

“Because he’s disappeared. Not turned up for the evening performance, and can’t be found in any of his usual haunts. Totally out of character.”

“Perhaps he’s had an accident?” Mrs. Bradley flapped her hands.

“Perhaps, although the management say they’ve rung round all the likely hospitals where he’d be if he had.” Matthew shrugged.

Aunt Jacinta had joined the group. “That doesn’t strike me as being the sort of case you’d be called in on, Matthew.”

“It wouldn’t be, normally. But he’s had threats made to him.” Matthew bowed over his goddaughter’s hand. “I’m afraid I have to take my leave, my dear.”

“Phew.” Johnny whistled. “The thick plottens.”

Focusing In On: The Way Things Are by A. J. Thomas (contest included)

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 The Way Things Are by A. J. Thomas

Release Date: January 30, 2015
Goodreads Link

Author Bio:

A.J. Thomas writes romantic suspense. She’s earned a Bachelor’s degree in Literature from the University of Montana and worked in a half-dozen different jobs, from law enforcement officer to librarian, before settling down. Life as a military spouse has tossed her around the country so many times she doesn’t know how to answer when people ask her where she’s from, but she delights in living as a perpetual tourist, visiting new places and discovering amazing things.

Her time is divided between taking care of her three young children, experimenting with cooking and baking projects that rarely explode these days, and embarrassing her husband with dirty jokes. When she’s not writing, she hikes, gardens, researches every random idea that comes into her head, and develops complicated philosophical arguments about why a clean house is highly overrated. Her work has won multiple awards, including the 2013 AMB Ovation Award for Best LGBT Inter-racial Romance, and the 2014 Rainbow Award for Best Gay Contemporary Fiction.

Where to find the author:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100008224932949
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/AJ.Thomas.Romance
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AJThomasRomance
Other: http://www.ajthomasromance.blogspot.com/

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Author Name: A.J. Thomas
Cover Artist: Bree ArcherSMWayThingsAre[The]FS

Sales Link: Dreamspinner Press   All Romance (ARe) 

Blurb(s):

A night of drunken confusion at nineteen resulted in Patrick Connelly fathering a child. Determined to be there for his son, Patrick walked away from a sport he loved and forever hid his sexuality. After Patrick’s brutal divorce and a vicious hate crime, his son, Jay, has become obsessed with graffiti. Hoping for a fresh start, Patrick moves Jay to his childhood home in Seattle. Within two weeks, Jay is arrested again. On his way to pick Jay up, Patrick stops an assault, then finds himself in handcuffs too. Thinking things canʼt get any worse, heʼs confronted by the sexiest man heʼs ever seen—his sonʼs new probation officer, Ken Atkins.
The hardest part of Kenʼs job is working with difficult parents, and the undeniably handsome Patrick Connelly is going to be a difficult parent. A chance encounter and steamy hookup with Patrick leave Ken blindsided. As they work together to try to keep Jay on the right path, the passion between them proves impossible to resist. When the assault Patrick prevented comes back to haunt them and Jay gets into trouble again, Ken must convince Patrick that ensuring his sonʼs happiness doesnʼt have to mean sacrificing his own.
Categories: Contemporary, Erotic (light), Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, Romance

Excerpt:

Ken shook his head, the motion making his entire body sway again. “I can’t believe you,” he said in disgust. “You have a child home alone right now, who needs an actual fucking role model in his life and actual supervision, and you’re here.” He gestured around at the dusty office. “I would have figured you’d be a bit old and butch for most of the clientele at this place.”

Patrick opened his mouth to deny that he was there selling himself, then stopped. “I’m not that old. And I am an employee of Corbin’s Attic.”

Ken chuckled. “You work for the club?”

“Yes. I had a shirt, but some vicious little drama queen insisted I dance with him, and he wouldn’t take no for answer.”

“You should have called one of the bouncers. They’re serious guys.”

“Uh….” Patrick scratched the back of his head. “I am pretty sure none of the other bouncers here would have come to my rescue.”

“Other bouncers?”

“Yeah. Which reminds me, I need to steal another shirt.” The security T-shirts were in a small, tumbling stack on top of boxes in the corner, next to five bigger stacks of black aprons and towels. He sorted through the T-shirts to find his size, then held it up so Ken could see the stenciled yellow “SECURITY” on the back.

“You’re a bouncer?”

“Just until I get my first check from the Port. And until Jay gets in trouble again and has to pay another fine. And maybe until the owner finds someone else to use as eye candy when he wants to make the guy who refuses to go out with him jealous.”

Ken choked. “That was the owner? The blonde guy you were wrapped around out there?”

“That was Corbin Hollis, yes. Which is why none of the other guys would dare help me. He’s my best friend. He’s letting me pick up some hours here because I’m broke.”

Ken looked at him again, just for a moment, before he dropped his gaze to the floor. “I should let you get back to work, then.”

Patrick caught Ken as he stumbled toward the door. “Hang on, now. I told you why I was here. Shouldn’t you be fair?”

“No,” Ken said. “I shouldn’t be here at all. Not if one of my parents works here, that’s for damn sure.” Patrick wrapped his arms around Ken’s waist and tried to hold him steady while Ken squirmed. When he slumped back against Patrick’s chest, the hard cock straining against the denim of Ken’s jeans made Patrick freeze and nearly drop him.

Pages or Words: 252 pages
TWTABadgeTour Dates: January 30, 2015

Tour Stops: 

Parker Williams, Molly Lolly, MM Good Book Reviews, BFD Book Blog, Bayou Book Junkie, My Fiction Nook, Inked Rainbow Reads, The Hat Party, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Havan Fellows, Book Reviews and More by Kathy, Cate Ashwood, Elisa – My Reviews and Ramblings, Lee Brazil, Velvet Panic, It’s Raining Men, Michael Mandrake, Because Two Men Are Better Than One, Iyana Jenna, Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews

 

Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: An e-book copy of The Way Things Are. Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.

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A Sammy Review: Chase in Shadow by Amy Lane

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Chase in Shadows coverChase Summers has been living a lie. He’s got a beautiful girlfriend and expectations, but the real him, well, that’s someone not even he knows. Beneath the carefully constructed exterior is a boy shrouded in an all consuming darkness, and no matter how hard he tries, he seems unable to reach the light beyond that all.

But then there’s Tommy. Sweet, handsome Tommy. He’s the perfect lover for Chase, and if the old adage is true, and love can heal all, then this just may be the key to bringing Chase out of the dark… but sometimes love isn’t enough.

Because you loved me, and I knew what it meant to feel.

Oh bahjeebus.

In several updates while reading this I described the story as having a “constant gut-punch feeling” and I couldn’t have been more right. The entire thing was a crazy rough ride of that tension in my stomach.

My heart breaks for Chase, and for Tommy, and I just adored the characters. It was deep and hot and all kinds of lovely.

I will say though that I had some issues with the therapy sessions, as they were at the very least unorthodox at times. For example, if someone is suffering from trauma from an event that is that grand and is going to get a very harsh response, it isn’t necessarily a good idea to bring that forth in the way that was done in this. Also, I take issue with counselors/therapists/psychologists who refer to patients as crazy, even in a joking context, but that’s just a personal thing.

Overall, not something to read if you’re looking for something light and fluffy, but if you want something that’s deep and harsh, and at times beautiful, then this is for you.

The cover art by Dante Reese is pretty good in general. I think the color red is fitting, as is the paint drip used in the background. It helps match a lot of the emotional aspect of the story. The razors are also fitting, though the way the chain holding them in blended in stands out a bit in the wrong ways. Still, it’s fitting for the story, and overall a nice cover.

Sales Links:   Dreamspinner Press *     All Romance (ARe)    Amazon  Buy it Here

*also available in paperback, audio book and Spanish translation.

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 320 pages
Published February 23rd 2012 by Dreamspinner Press
ASINB007CS6IYK
edition languageEnglish
seriesJohnnies #1
charactersDavid “Dex” Worral, Chase “Chance” Summers, Tommy “Tango” Halloran
settingSacramento, California (United States

Memories of Down Under from Guest Blogger Jim Provenzano

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Reading Down Under: Scattered Thoughts’ Aussie Special!

from author Jim Provenzano

Longtime followers know that I got some great reviews for my last two books from independent reviewers. Their prolific blogs continue to amaze me by the sheer number of books they promote, and the reviews are often thorough and heartfelt. You can click on the “Reviews” links on this blog on the right column to read them all.

But one of the most outstanding sites is Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words. Not only did I enjoy expansive praise-filled reviews for both Every Time I Think of You and its sequel Message of Love; I was also honored with a guest author spotlight, where I rambled on about why I decided to write the sequel. Every Time I Think of You was also among those chosen as one of the Best Books of 2014!

So it was without hesitation that I decided to help promote Melanie M.’s latest endeavor, a January special all about Australian and New Zealand authors!

OnWingsofSongAnne Barwell, one of the featured authors
Here’s the deal. More than two dozen Aussie and Kiwi authors will get a special post about their latest works. Look for the clues in the text, (it’s a web-based scavenger hunt) and you could win books and other Aussie and Kiwi-themed prizes. Look for posts about (and guest-written by) these Australian authors, each day in January. There are even a few New Zealand authors as well:

Christian Baines, N.R. Walker, Anne Barwell, Nic Starr, Meredith Shayne, Renae Kaye, John Wiltshire, John Terry Moore, Lily Veldon, Barry Rowe, L. J. LaBarthe, Beany Sparks, Nicki J. Markus, Michelle Rae, A. B. Gayle, Lisa Harris and Isabelle Rowan.

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American readers owe it to themselves to read Australian and kikiw authors. their slight differences in language and syntax are fascinating, and their perspectives on life are just a little bit different, but yet familiar.
My love for the Land Down Under extends beyond this fun promotion. Back in 2002, I had the thrill of attending the sixth quadrennial Gay Games. Since I didn’t compete that time, I had the freedom to travel to nearly every sporting event, from the rugby fields near downtown, to the Olympic stadiums for track and field, and across the campus to the volleyball and aquatics centers, or centres, as they spell it.

With more than 100 interviews conducted (including a few funny stilted ones in my limited French and Italian) on old-fashioned cassette tapes, and about 40 rolls of film – yes, film, my last pre-digital project- I put together dozens of articles about every sport, and the ceremonies and spectacles as well. You can enjoy the archived articles on my Sports Complex website. But please forgive the dated HTML formatting. I haven’t been there in a while.

Joel
Figure skating rocked!
My host was a generous fellow with a fabulous downtown apartment, who also was on one of Sydneys toughest basketball teams (they made it to the finals, as I recall). He welcomed my “frequent overnight guest” and even hosted a dinner party where (yes!) we enjoyed shrimp on the barbie!
But I also participated in a reading at an art gallery, and Graeme at Bookshop Darlinghurst bought some copies of my first novel, PINS. That later led to a nice consignment deal with an Australian wholesaler. It all gave me a fun thrill to know that more than 100 folks got print copies of that novel, without the middleman of Amazon.com (or Amazon.au).

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Aussie and Samoan ruggers

This was at the the peak of The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, and while I longed to spend more time on the other side of the planet, I did not get a chance to see the New Zealand hobbit houses or the beautiful expanse of either country. I did get a few Lord of the Rings souvenirs, however!

But the pleasures of Australia were often more subtle than a blockbuster movie. The wildlife was just different enough to beguile. Odd geese with long bills puttered about in downtown public parks, and by night, across from my scenic guest room balcony, the brightly lit spires of a skyscraper were surrounded by a massive flock of bats. My host told me the bats scooped up thousands of moths attracted to the lights.
hockMontreal ice hockey
But what really charmed me were the people. Their musical accents, their way of turning a phrase with an upward lilt, and their enthusiasm in welcoming guests from around the world was amazing. I met Samoan rugby players, French cyclists, Croatian volleyball players, and got to soak in the shared joy of being in that wonderful land.

Some highlights:poloflowers

Los Angeles water polo team
SydneyVolleyGals– singing “Happy Birthday” to performer k.d. lang along with thousands of others at Opening Ceremonies,

– frolicking in the kids’ rec pool with two water polo teams at the official Olympic aquatics centre,

– hoisting beers in a large gay bar with three softball teams while singing along to an ABBA medley,

– getting directions to the ice hockey arena from a friendly shopkeeper in the far off suburbs, who asked, as easy as “Bob’s your uncle,” “Oh, you here for the Gay Games?”
Sydney volleyball team
Anyway, certainly you can read more diverse perspectives from the array of LGBT authors in Scattered Thoughts’ January author showcase. So check out the website and get reading!

 

Jim Provenzano

You can find/follow Jim at his website:  http://www.myrmidude.org  and his Goodreads page.  Don’t forget to check out Jim’s marvelous books, Every  Time I Think of You and Message of Love.