A MelanieM Review: Brimstone: Demon Owned & Operated (Brimstone #1-3) by Angel Martinez

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Brimstone Owned and Operated coverDue to circumstances completely within his control, Shax, the Demon Prince of Thieves has fled, er, emigrated from Earth to seek his fortunes out in the galaxy. With his faithful friend, Verin, by his side, they acquire a gently used ship with a drag-queen AI.

Hell for the Company: Brimstone 1
Everything’s going just fine, thank you very much. All right, the anti-gravity cows are a bit problematic and some of Shax’s buyers are bad for his health, but he manages until he comes across an injured angel in a psychedelic alien jungle.

Fear of Frogs: Brimstone 2
While Shax recovers from a near fatality, his shipmates have taken the initiative and found them a lucrative cargo run. Shax is horrified to find out what sort of cargo. Unfortunately, he’ll soon discover that a healthy fear of frogs doesn’t prevent frog-driven disasters.

Shax’s War: Brimstone 3
The boys desperately need a vacation. With the not-quite-ill-gotten gains from the Frog incident, Shax takes the Brimstone’s crew to the exclusive resort planet, Opal. What could possibly go wrong?

I  met Captain Shax and his demon friend… childhood buddy…what have you, Verin, in their Brimstone prequel, Potato Surprise.  That wildly told tale gave us the particulars as to how they fled Earth and demon family (sort of), how they got their hands on the hastily renamed ship Brimstone with its lively IA Ivanna and took to space on all sorts of misadventures.  It had bawdy humor, lots of hot sex, wildly imaginative beings and some unexpected angst.  And I loved it.

So of course I searched immediately for more.  And found Brimstone: Demon Owned & Operated (Brimstone #1-3) by Angel Martinez, three Brimstone stories in one from Mischief Corner Press.  I was overjoyed and plowed right into the novels eager to see where Shax, Verin and the Brimstone went next.  It was quite the journey, a little slow at times, but that last story, Shax’s War?  That’s the one that kept me up thinking and so thrilled that I read this collection.  That’s a 5 star slam bang right there but I’m getting ahead of myself and the Brimstone crew.

Putting all three stories under one title actually makes a huge amount of sense because  of one element that runs through each story.  At the start of the first story, its just Shax, Verin, and the IA Ivanna, in the mid-sized spacecraft renamed Brimstone. When Shax and Verin fled from his demon Uncle (plotting a new war with Heaven), they left everything behind, including his minions which he kind of loved (not that he would admit it), their palace, family (not that they liked them mind), and just everything.  Now its just the two…er, three of them, alone in space.  And sometimes they’ve found that a very lonely proposition.

In each new story, one of the main plot threads is that a new member or members of the crew comes on board and becomes family, replacing the one that Shax and Verin fled/left behind.  How I loved that aspect of this story.  Its subtle and I can’t believe I just said that where one story has pages of frog sex.  And it shows how much heart these tales have (even if one has the hearts being ripped out of the bodies…you are warned).

Hell for the Company: Brimstone 1.  Rating:  3.25 stars.

I  liked this story.  Two words make it kind of magical.  Floating cows. Five make it hilarious.  Cow pies from the sky. Its also where Shax meets his fallen angel lover, Ness.  I was slow to warm up to Ness, both as a companion to Shax and as a member of the crew of the Brimstone.  By book three, I had forgotten I ever had those thoughts, but here in Hell for the Company, they are large and looming.  I can’t figure out why, could be I’m just not a fan of angels but this is my least favorite story.

Fear of Frogs: Brimstone 2.  Rating:  4.25 stars

Fear of frogs, frog sex. All hilarious.  Put your emotions in guffaw mode here.  What is the one thing the Demon Prince is afraid of?  Yep, that would be frogs.  I won’t spoil how Shax and the frogs come into  contact but its a doozy as are the after effects.  Because they lead us directly to the next, last and my favorite story of them all, Shax’s War. And yes, another compadre is added to the Brimstone when Verin finds love.

Shax’s War: Brimstone 3. Rating: 5 stars

Parts of this story are downright gruesome, unexpectedly so given all the other stories that have come before.  I thought there would be some humor, and there is.  Some lovely thoughtful moments and wild hijinks, all that’s here too.   But some of the painful stuff? No, I didn’t expect to read elements of that here.  But there is also a reason for its inclusion.  Up until now, we’ve seen several sides of Shax.  The one that loves his “pretties”, the thoughtful one, the loyal one, and so one.  But never this one.

“You think I’m a nice, civilized demon, don’t you? Fussy, arrogant, unwilling to get my hands dirty.” 

That was Shax about to prove to a villain that the opposite of that was true, that he is the Demon Prince after all, something we haven’t seen up until now.  There are multiple points of view, a wild chase, nefarious goings on, more than a few stomach churning scenes (don’t worry, the worst of it happens “off stage”), more action and suspense than anyone could hope for  and get.  Plus a lot of demon sex, which includes bdsm scenes (spreaders, you name it).   Shax’s War is one wild ride.

At the end, Shax has a crew of beings the like of which is quite wonderful, well on their way to being family.  Shax and Verin each have found their long term loves and Ivanna is happy.  Life is pretty darn wonderful on the Brimstone.  I wonderful what next adventure is coming for them.

I love this crew and their stories.  I highly recommend them all.  I believe Potato Surprise is free at Mischief Corner Books.  Check them all out now.

Cover art by Freddy McKay.  I like the cover, even if that’s not my idea of Shax.  Where’s all that gorgeous auburn hair?

Sales Links: Mischief Corner Press | Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details:

300 pages, ebook, paperback and Kindle editions
Published July 25th 2014 by Mischief Corner Books, LLC (first published March 28th 2014)
ASINB00M4ZHQI8
edition languageEnglish
seriesBrimstone #1-3

Brimstone:

A Mika Review: Where Wishes Go by S.A. McAuley

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Where Wishes GoCan you have a second chance at a first love?

Nick Paine is just starting to return to normal after he told his wife he’s gay and asked for a divorce. Despite a daughter he loves dearly and a job he believes in, part of him is stuck in the past. He’s never forgotten the first love he let fade away fourteen years ago.

Adam “Izz” Azzi has settled into a happy rhythm. His daughter is healthy, he’s found a mosque that accepts him, and his work as a modern artist is gaining international attention. While his past is fraught with mistakes and what-ifs, his life now is good, and he doesn’t want to upset any of the balance he’s worked so hard to achieve.

When Nick and Izz are reunited by luck and fate, their attraction is just as undeniable, but what was left unsaid haunts them. They have hope for a future together, but wishing may not be enough.

Low-angst, sweet contemporary story featuring a second chance love.

I really enjoyed this story, with an amazing cast to go with it. I read this in one sitting straight through, that’s how much I liked it. I feel that Where Wishes Go by S.A. McAuley lacks the passion that I require with stories like this. Very low-angst, and I love the second chance romance. I just wish the passion was there between Nick & Adam. I expected it to be fire once these two settled through their difference, instead I just felt like it was coasting through passion wise. 

Both guys deal with pretty much different aspects of their past, but they are able to move forth and understand what happened all those years ago. I liked the idea of Adam being of a different race and religion outside of being Catholic. I loved seeing his Islamic religion being accepting of him as a person, as well as his sexuality. And I liked that both guys had children. I think children in stories show a different side of their parents personalities.

I love the side characters as well. I hope some of them can get little novellas of some sort. All in all, I think the author did a good job with this story. I’d recommend to all.

Cover Art by Paul Richmond. I think it’s nice from an artistic standpoint being that Adam was an artist, but for me as a buyer, the cover isn’t that revealing. I wanted to see what this book was about in this instance I had to read the blurb.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press  |  All Romance (ARe) | Amazon  | Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 246 pages, also  paperback
Expected publication: October 2nd 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781634764728
edition languageEnglish

A Wynter Review: Kaminishi (Bittersweet Dreams) by Jan Suzukawa

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Kaminishi coverCollege student Michael Holden wakes up in an impossible reality: mid-nineteenth century Japan, face to face with Shinjaro Kaminishi, a living, breathing samurai warlord Michael has seen in a dream. Imprisoned by the warlord and interrogated about the future, Michael has no idea if what he’s experiencing is real… and then he finds himself back in present-day America.

Shinjaro’s commanding presence and smoldering sexuality draw Michael again and again to the past, where dangerous information is revealed and Shinjaro’s life is threatened. Through the mists of time and in the reality of modern Japan, Michael searches for the truth—and for the man who now owns his heart—Shinjaro Kaminishi.

It is a rare thing, coming across stories that blended the East and the West, even more so when stories take place in the past during a time period where such things weren’t ever heard of. So when I came across Kaminishi and its blurb, I was fascinated. Modern day America crossing with Samurai Japan. Two worlds with ideals as far apart from one another as it could be. I was interested in how the author handled the historical elements in her story and the conflict that was sure to come about.

The story had a great start. The premise was familiar – time travel. Suzukawa did a good job describing the mannerisms of her characters in such a way that I could hear the characters’ voices differently for each one, and I found myself liking our two MCs – Michael Holden and Shinjirō Kaminishi from the get-go. After chapter five, however, the journey started feeling long despite the history being enlightening. I think it was great that the author included as much of her research into her novel as she did and tried to show through Michael just how much of a culture-and-time-period-shock any one of us would experience if we were to find ourselves in Michael’s shoes. However, one of the hardest things about writing history or working within it was preventing it from becoming as dry as a history textbook. This wasn’t quite there, but it ventured pretty close in some parts.

This story made me think of the setting in The Last Samurai (movie edition), and straight from the introduction of Shinjirō, I read his character with the voice of Ken Watanabe, which just sent all manners of thrills for me through the intimate parts, I might add. The differences lie in that The Last Samurai takes place during the Meiji Period whereas this novel takes place during the Edo Period (with 20 years between them during which the Bakumatsu took place for about 15 of those years).

As I mentioned before, the story did drag through some parts, but it was also easy to follow and guess where the author was taking it. The context of the story, if one understood the history and how the way of the samurai operated, prevented this story from having a Happily-Ever-After (HEA) or a Happily-For-Now (HFN) ending. At least, that was my expectations as I read along.

I hadn’t realized that this novel came with 2 books, silly me. There wasn’t a table of contents, and the author never actually used any version of “the end” to tell where the story may have ended. So when I came upon the last page of Book 1, I thought the story was over, and that “final” chapter left me intrigued. I read there was supposed to be a sequel to this novel, and I figured Jan Suzukawa was going to write the journey of our characters finding each other in that book with the hope that there may be a happy ending there.

It made me think “Book 2” of the novel was an excerpt for the next novel. So when I realized there were a few more chapters to the story, I finished reading it and walked away with the feeling of disappointment. Book 2 stripped that sense of intrigue and build up I finally got at the final chapter of Book 1. It covered too much all at once, but it did give the men a happy ending of sorts.

I feel that Book 2 had the potential to be its own novel, and a very good one at that.

Some will love the story. Others will not. Whichever is the case, I think the story is worth reading. Despite some shortfalls, it managed to keep my attention though many parts. I do feel it necessary to inform readers that there are dark parts to this story involving suicide and beheading as per the custom of a time period, as well as an event that involved rape.

Give it a chance. Pick it up. It’s a stand alone if you don’t like it and choose not to continue.

The cover art was illustrated by Anne Cain (annecain.art@gmail.com). I think the simplicity in it and drawing it to resemble Japanese manga/Japanese art actually caught my attention faster than a more modern approach.

Personally, I think having a reference to how the characters looks like right there on the cover makes the book even more intriguing from the start. A samurai in the background paired with a modern looking man.

It seems to beg the question, “What’s their story?”

Sales Links:  DSP Publications | Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details:

  • Author: Jan Suzukawa
  • Length: paperback, 270 pages
  • Language: English
  • Series: Bittersweet Dreams
  • Published: 1st edition published by Dreamspinner Press, 2011; 2nd edition September 2015
  • ISBN-13: 9781615818501
  • Digital ISBN: 978-1-63476-111-6
  • ISBN: 1615818502

In the Paranormal Spotlight: Annabelle Jacobs’ The Altered 3 (excerpt and giveaway)

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The Altered 3 by Annabelle Jacobs
Release Date: October 1, 2015

Goodreads Link 
Publisher: Annabelle Jacobs
Cover Artist: Natasha Snow

Sales Links:  Amazon | Amazon UK | All Romance (ARe) | Smashwords

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Blurb

Matt is a single shifter living in a house full of couples. It’s not that he begrudges his friends their happiness—especially after everything they’ve been through—but he wants someone for himself. He wants a mate. Living out in the Cornish countryside there seems little chance of him finding one.

Thomas’s life has recently been changed for ever. Newly altered, he finds himself in danger as his mother, a prominent politician, works to put a stop to the mistreatment of altereds and bring those responsible to justice.

To keep him safe, Thomas is sent to Cornwall where Matt and his friends offer him refuge until he can return to his home in London. Despite the circumstances surrounding his arrival, Thomas and Matt bond in a way neither of them were expecting. They struggle to come to terms with what this might mean for their future once the threat is eliminated.
Pages or Words: 58,000 words (approximate)

Categories: Alternate universe, Fantasy, Fiction, M/M Romance, Paranormal

Excerpt

“Daniel?” He strained to hear anything but the whole farmhouse seemed quiet. His senses were a little overwhelmed after being effectively dampened for the last three hours, but after thirty seconds or so he could hear the tread of footsteps outside and a car approaching the farmhouse.
Jordan’s black Volkswagen T5 pulled up onto the gravel drive at the same time as Matt opened the kitchen door. Daniel walked over to meet him as he got out of the van, holding his phone out for Jordan to see. Whatever was on there had Jordan tensing up immediately.
“What’s wrong?” Matt called out, making Daniel jump, but Jordan didn’t even flinch already fully aware of his presence. He walked over to them, and looked pointedly at Daniel.
Daniel motioned for Jordan to give him his phone back and handed it straight over to Matt. “I got an email from Shaw.”
It took Matt a good few seconds to recognise the name. And when he did, his chest tightened at the memories it invoked. It wasn’t that anyone had forgotten what happened at the facility, but it wasn’t exactly a popular topic of conversation either. Shaw, along with Ash and a Dr Adams, had been injected with the serum by Chambers and had ended up a partial altered. Whatever he had to say, Matt doubted it would be anything good.
The email was short and to the point. Shaw hadn’t bothered with pleasantries, and Matt felt oddly pleased by that. They weren’t friends, and he was glad no one pretended otherwise. He read it again to make sure he hadn’t missed anything and handed the phone back to Daniel.
“So.” Matt glanced up at the sky, knowing their peaceful existence was about to change. But he asked the question anyway. “Are we going to take them?”

RC

Meet the Author

Annabelle Jacobs lives in the South West of England with her husband, three rowdy children, and two cats.
An avid reader of fantasy herself for many years, Annabelle now spends her days writing her own stories. They’re usually either fantasy or paranormal fiction, because she loves building worlds filled with magical creatures, and creating stories full of action and adventure. Her characters may have a tough time of it—fighting enemies and adversity—but they always find love in the end.

Where to find the author:

Twitter – https://twitter.com/AJacobs_fiction
Website – www.annabellejacobs.com
Email – ajacobsfiction@gmail.com
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/ajacobsfiction
Facebook Author page

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Tour Dates & Stops:

Parker Williams, Havan Fellows, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Jessie G. Books, Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents, Carly’s Book Reviews, Happily Ever Chapter, Bike Book Reviews, Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews, MM Good Book Reviews, BFD Book Blog, 3 Chicks After Dark, The Jena Wade, Vampires, Werewolves, and Fairies, Oh My, Molly Lolly, The Jena Wade, Inked Rainbow Reads, Dawn’s Reading Nook, Wake Up Your Wild Side, Three Books Over The Rainbow, Iyana Jenna, The Fuzzy, Fluffy World of Chris T. Kat, Divine Magazine, Mikky’s World of Books, Sinfully Addicted to All Male Romance, Rainbow Gold Reviews

Final

Giveaway

Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: Book from Annabelle’s backlist and $10 Amazon gift card.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.  Link and prizes provided by the author and Pride Promotions.
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Coffee Sip and Book Break: Everything Anise by Natalie-Nicole Bates (excerpt and giveaway)

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Everything Anise by Natalie-Nicole Bates
Release Date: October 7, 2015

Publisher: Torquere Press
Cover Artist: Kris Norris

Buy the book: Torquere Press

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Blurb

A Victorian-era vampire living in the modern world, Emigh Bennett’s favorite activity is watching people from the window of her little bookshop. When she spots a woman nearly killed on the street outside her shop, she rushes to her rescue, and she meets Anise.

The proprietress of a little home business called “Everything Anise,” Anise crafts one-of-a-kind perfumes all with a touch of her namesake spice, all with the power to intoxicate and delight the senses. She is smart, sexy, beautiful, and happens to be a little bit different.

Although Anise is everything Emigh could ever ask for and more, she can’t quite figure her out. Anise possesses the duality of an innocent angel and a vivacious vixen. Even if Emigh can ever peel away the multi layers of Anise to uncover the truth beneath, what will happen when she finally reveals the truth about herself?

Pages or Words: 16,200 words
Categories: Lesbian Romance, Romance, Urban Fantasy

Excerpt

For the first time in…hell, it must be years, Emigh’s life felt bright and vibrant. Meeting Anise was the dawning of a new day. The lift she’d needed for so long.
She dared to pick up the phone that first night and call Anise. To hear that special kind of something in her voice as they spoke. To talk about everything and anything…well, not everything. She didn’t broach the subject of her sexuality—maybe not hers, but Anise’s. As a matter of fact, Anise mentioned neither male nor female friends.
Anise spoke of her passion for crafting corsets and perfume. She loved to bake. She was estranged from her family. They didn’t understand that she didn’t want to work a boring nine-to-five job, train into the city, train home again at night, exhausted. They thought she was wasting her life away, and because she wouldn’t come around to their strict way of thinking and living, she walked away from them.
Emigh admired her spunk and dedication. Smart, sweet, articulate, and she made her laugh, which was a tough thing to do. Anise was definitely a rare breed of woman.
But how long could it last?
She couldn’t tell Anise she was a vampire, let alone that she would never die.
Vampire.
How she hated the word! But until someone came up with a better one, she was stuck with it.
Of course, Anise would never believe her. No one did. Every once in a while some beautiful woman would come along, and their connection would be instantaneous…sizzling. Emigh would find herself whispering the truth to her beloved. Inevitably, the not-so-twin flame would beat a hasty retreat, believing Emigh was crazy, or a liar…or both.
Crazy and liar are never good things in a relationship.

 

RC

Meet the Author

Natalie-Nicole Bates is a book reviewer and author.
Her passions in life include books and hockey along with Victorian and Edwardian era photography and antique poison bottles. Natalie contributes her uncharacteristic love of hockey to being born in Russia.
She currently resides in the UK where she is working on her next book and adding to her collection of 19th century post-mortem photos.

Where to find the author:
Goodreads : https://www.goodreads.com/Natalie-Nicole
Tsu : https://www.tsu.co/NatalieNicoleBates
Facebook Fan Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/585466478240251/
Twitter: @BatesNatalie https://twitter.com/BatesNatalie
Facebook Author Page
Blog: http://www.natalienicolebates.com
Street Team Sign Up: https://www.facebook.com/groups/441841792565396/
Amazon Author Central Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B0071MP0DC `

Tour Dates & Stops:

Parker Williams, Bayou Book Junkie, Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents, Inked Rainbow Reads, Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews, SA McAuley, The Jena Wade, BFD Book Blog, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Up All Night, Read All Day, Molly Lolly, Charley Descoteaux, Divine Magazine, Dawn’s Reading Nook, SA McAuley, Velvet Panic, SJD Peterson

 

Final

Giveaway

Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: E-copy of ‘Everything Anise’.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter. Link and prizes provided by the author and Pride Promotions.
Rafflecopter Code:
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