A MelanieM Review: Blood and Clockwork by Katey Hawthorne

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Blood and ClockworkAlistair Click set out to lay to rest the superstitious fears about the Mad Prince’s clockwork tower. If that meant he might bring the ghost city of Avalonia back to economic life, connecting the western kingdoms once again, so much the better. So what if no adventurer who’d entered the tower in the last century of desolation had ever re-emerged? They didn’t have his skill and wit. He could do better.

The tower turns out to be far more than Alistair expected, however. Not only are there clockwork puzzles to open every door, but one of them drops a boy from a strange world into his lap–figuratively speaking, if only just. Marco Murphy was just gaming in his New Jersey apartment, and now he’s stuck in what feels like a never ending LARP nightmare.

The deeper they delve into the Mad Prince’s tower, the darker the secrets they uncover. They’re not entirely sure they’ll ever be able to get out again, either. It’ll take all Marco’s charm and Alistair’s cleverness, plus the strange bond growing between them, to get them out together… and alive.

When I finished Katey Hawthorne’s Blood and Clockwork, several things popped immediately to mind.  First?  What a spectacular world and engrossing plot! That Mad Prince’s clockwork tower?  Spellbinding…literally. Step by step, I was peering over the shoulders of those wonderful characters, Alistair and Marco as they carefully maneuvered their way thru the mechanisms the Mad Prince has laid out before them.  Be prepared to hold your breath.

And right on the heels of that thought?  More, there needs to be more.

From the moment I meet brave, enterprising Alistair entering the deserted town of Avalonia, the reader comprehends he is someone special.  How special emerges as the story unfolds.   He wants the secrets to the Mad Prince’s clockwork tower that never seems to wind down, even centuries later in the middle of a city devoid of life.  Others have tried and never returned.  Alistair is determined to be the first.  Be prepared to fall deeply in loved with this character.  He’s intelligent, non-judgmental and open to life’s possibilities.  Also very brave which helps with what’s about to come.

Surprisingly, the tower has another occupant.  A visitor from another dimension.  Marco, an artist from our world.  Charming, easy going, intelligent and a perfect match for Alistair in ways that Alistair is not prepared for, this includes sexually.  For Alistair is asexual and the discussion had between them is thoughtful, easy and open,  another wonderful element here.  Marco is stuck in the tower and has no way home.  Together they must work as a team to solve the tower’s puzzles in order to send Marco home and let Alistair solve the riddle of the tower.

Sounds simple but its anything but as the terrific narrative will show.  Marco will pull in some of his skills from his home world, Alistair will use his, and the combination is lovely, imaginative, occasionally funny, and heartwarming.

When the story finished, I was happy yes, but not completely satisfied.  I wasn’t done with these two or their world.  I felt as though we had just gotten started with each  other.  Surely this was but the first in many adventures right?  Katey Hawthorne?  Are you listening?  With their combination of talents, surely  more stories and adventures are to follow?  Just let me know.  I’ll be ready to join in the fun or horror or both.

Cover art is beautiful yet horrific and works within the framework of the story.

Sales links:  Less Than Three Press | ARe | Amazon link coming

Book Details:

ebook
Expected publication: March 16th 2016 by Less Than Three Press
ISBN139781620047392
Edition LanguageEnglish

 

 

A Lila Audiobook Review: Job Hunt (The Power of Zero #1) by Jackie Keswick and Narrator Fox Ballard

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Job Hunt AudiobookYou don’t greet your new boss dressed like an underage rent boy. But when Jack Horwood—ace hacker and ex-MI6 operative—opens the door to Gareth Flynn, he’s too busy to worry over details like that. And anyway, his potential new boss is his former Commanding Officer – the same guy Jack has had a crush on since he was seventeen. So he should understand, right?

 When he applied for the job in Nancarrow Mining’s corporate security division, Jack had hoped for peaceful days repelling cyber attacks. Maybe a bit of corporate espionage on the side. His plans didn’t include rescuing abused children, hunting pimps, or dealing with his overly protective and hot-as-hell boss, Gareth Flynn.

 Walking away is not an option. Jack never takes the easy way out. More than that, meeting Gareth raises old ghosts that Jack needs to put to rest. Rescuing kids. Taking risks. Saving the day. Jack can do all that – but deciding what to do about his attraction to Gareth isn’t the sort of cloak-and-dagger game Jack plays well. Yet Gareth, strong and smart and always on hand when needed, might be Jack’s salvation.

 Job Hunt is a complex thriller with multi-dimensional characters, and complicated twists and turns. There are enough questions and mysteries to keep the reader into the story and guessing its outcome. Following both investigations, it’s not complicated, but the  Nancarrow Mining’s cyber attacks plotline was not as well thought as the one involving Jack’s undercover work.

 I’m glad I listen to this story because all the distinct voices helped with the POV changes. Also, the narrator gave it an authenticity feel. Each character becomes an individual with their own quirks and traits.

 Even when a romantic plot is present in this book, the story is all about the cases the MCs are working. Jack is the real man character in Job Hunt. Gareth is there as a protector or sidekick more than someone that we get invested on.

 The rest of the ensemble can be considered as supporting characters instead of secondary because they were there in order for Jack to accomplish his goals. The author did an excellent job, though, making them memorable instead of simple fill-ins.

The sense of place and location is very present, even for someone that had never been in Richmond, Wimbledon, or any of the other areas mentioned. Everything from the smells, looks, and weather are taken into consideration. And the food had its own role in the story, too.

 In the end, Job Hunt is an enjoyable read, and its only downside is the amount of events unfolding at the same time. Together with some areas of internal dialogue.

 Fox Ballard did an excellent job with the narration. He made differentiating between the many POV changes easy. He’s one of the first narrators I had listened to that had managed to voice females characters without making them sound too masculine. All the accents were amazing, even when hard to understand at some points.

 I like the way the calls were integrated into the audiobook. They sounded authentic and gave the story a realistic boost. My only complaint would be about the music separating the chapters. It was kind of jungle fever and didn’t go with the book’s content. And, the pauses between chapters, and/or POVs, were too long.

 The cover by Maria Fanning didn’t work for me. It makes the books seem paranormal, which it is not. You have to be very close to it to realize it has the data information in the background. The audiobook cover is just a modify version of the original.

 Sales Links:  Dreamspinner | Amazon | Audible

 Audiobook Details:

 Narrator: Fox Ballard
Length:  9 hours and  38 minutes

Published:  February 11, 2016 (Audio Edition) by Dreamspinner Press
ASIN:  B01BMQFFE6
Edition Language: English

Series:  The Power of Zero
Book #1: Job Hunt
Book #2: Ghosts
Book #3: House Hunt

Love Doesn’t Stop, Even for Death with ‘For Never and Always’ by Ana J. Phoenix (excerpt and giveaway)

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For Never and Always by Ana J. Phoenix
Release Date: March 10, 2016

Goodreads Link
Publisher: Ana J. Phoenix
Cover Artist: Ana J. Phoenix

Blurb

Seth finds himself alone at an abandoned train station, with no idea what happened, or how he got there. He boards a train, only to discover it’s a special express transporting the recently deceased to their final destination. The conductor tells him he’s having a near-death experience. Seth wonders if it has something to do with his violent boyfriend, but that doesn’t matter. All that matters is getting the hell off the train before he actually dies. But when he spots his best friend and secret crush among the traveling dead, the urge to leave fades…

 

Pages or Words: 173 pages
Categories: Contemporary, Fiction, M/M Romance, Paranormal, Romance, Tearjerker

Excerpt

For a minute, they sat in silence with only the rumbling of the train disturbing the quiet. When it became apparent that Seth wasn’t going to start speaking, Carter asked, “Still want to go on that road trip?”

“Not without you.”

“Mhm… If we could go together?” It wasn’t possible, of course, but Carter wasn’t interested in reality right now. One reason he hadn’t told Seth he was dying was because he’d enjoyed making all those unrealistic plans, after all, and he still did.

“I would go anywhere with you.”

“Yeah?” Carter let go of Seth’s neck and tightened his grip around his shoulder. “Where would you like to go first?”

“Seattle.”

“Why there?”

Seth looked at him with that certain shine in his eyes he got when he talked about technology and space and all that. “The Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame,” he said, predictably.

“God, you are such a geek.”

“Geeks rule the world.”

“Yeah? I don’t know about that.”

“It’s true, though! We created the Internet and launched mankind into space. What did zombie fanatics ever do?”

“Uh… we make good movies?”

Seth scoffed. “We have Star Wars and Star Trek and—”

“Aren’t those the same thing?”

“Oh no, you didn’t!”

Carter laughed. He’d rarely seen Seth look so offended. But whatever it was Seth had been worrying about earlier, he wasn’t thinking about it now, and that was a win.

 

Buy the book:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01BMFDNCS

Meet the Author

Ana writes m/m romance and erotica. Her interest in hot guy-on-guy action was first sparked by reading scandalous Japanese mangas. A dirty secret she couldn’t resist. In a long bout of insanity – also known as her life — she decided to learn the language and escape to the land of sushi, sumo, and yaoi.

She’s since moved back to Europe to be with the love of her life – delicious European chocolate.

Now she resides in the sunny part of Germany where she fills her days chasing her dreams and writing about men in complicated relationships. Her family believes she’s writing “erotic manga stories.” She’s pleased they got the erotic part right, at least.

Where to find the author:

 


BannerTemplate Tour Dates & Stops:

Parker Williams, Divine Magazine, The Hat Party, Alpha Book Club, Bayou Book Junkie, Kirsty Loves Books, Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents, Multitasking Mommas, A.M. Leibowitz, V’s Reads, Velvet Panic,

Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Book Lovers 4Ever, Happily Ever Chapter, The Jena Wade,
Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews, Unquietly Me, Louise Lyons, Elisa – My Reviews and Ramblings,
Boys on the Brink Reviews, Molly Lolly, MM Good Book Reviews, Wake Up Your Wild Side, Havan Fellows,

Rednecks and Romance, Mikky’s World of Books, BFD Book Blog, Inked Rainbow Reads

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Giveaway

Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: A set of Star Wars cookie cutters.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.  Link and prize provided by Pride Promotions and the author.
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The Storming Love Series Continues with Mario Kai Lapinski’s Jakob & Ivo (excerpt and giveaway)

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Jakob & Ivo (Storming Love: Meteor Strikes #2) by Mario Kai Lipinski
Release Date: March 4, 2016

Goodreads Link
Publisher: MLR Press
Cover Artist: Kris Jacen

Blurb

Dr. Jakob Feldmann is a renowned German geneticist at Research Hospital Essen… and a recluse par excellence.

Ivo Andersson is a male nurse working at the same hospital as Jakob. His outgoing personality and good looks have earned him the nickname Sir Grin-a-lot.

They both have a crush on each other that everyone except the two of them seems to know about. But when the German Federal Police shows up with two patients suffering from a suspected alien infection, their voluntary exile in the high security research complex shifts their relationship into fast-forward mode.

Just when they find the courage to open up to each other, Jakob discovers the true nature of the infection. He has to make a decision that will change everything.

How much can love endure?

 

Pages or Words: 29,500 words
This book can be read as a standalone as each is a self-contained story
Categories: Contemporary, M/M Romance, Science Fiction

Excerpt

“Emergency, emergency on floor seven! Dr. Feldmann’s eyeballs are about to drop out.”

Jakob flinched. “Shhh, not so loud.” He spun around. “Not everyone has to know.”

Marc may have been a capable physician, but he made a bull in the china shop look like a well-behaved customer interested in a delicate porcelain service.

“I think apart from the both of you,” Marc chuckled and that sound got Jakob’s ear canals dirty, “everyone else in the hospital is aware of your crush on each other.”

“He isn’t interested in me.” Jakob turned back and looked down the hospital hall again. Ivo was still talking to the other nurse, Sandra Gronder, right? How could such a cute guy be interested in Jakob “Average Guy” Feldmann? It took one look from those blue eyes, one sweep through that dark blond mass of hair, one smile with those perfectly white rows of teeth, and every man would drop down to his knees begging for a date, regardless whether that guy was gay or not. “I’m not in his league.”

Marc groaned through his closed lips. “Oh fucking Jesus.” He reached into his pocket, got his cell out, and held it to his ear before offering it to Jakob. “It’s for you. The nineties’ rom coms are calling and want their clichés back.” He let his hand sink down. “You’re a doctor and he’s a nurse. You look at a nucleic acid sequence and give a perfect description of the person it came from. I won’t sleep with any chick for a month if you can name a better geneticist in the world than you, and I’m damn jealous. And he? He cleans bedpans and chauffeurs meals.”

“You’re a snob and a jerk.” Jakob would never become one of those demigods in white. That’s what he had promised his father and he would stick to that promise. “He’s twenty-seven. I’m thirty-three. And I don’t even know if he’s into guys.”

“Six years? You’re kidding me, aren’t you?” Marc huffed, blowing his nostrils. “As a male nurse, he most probably is gay or has been asked that question so many times that he doesn’t give a crap anymore. It’s the twenty-first century, you know? You can talk about who you fuck in public.”

Jakob closed his eyes, pushed down his glasses, and massaged the bridge of his nose. Marc was a snob and a jerk for real, but however much this turned Jakob’s stomach, he was also right. Jakob opened his eyes again. “That just isn’t me, approaching him and asking him out.” His elbow began to itch. Damn psoriasis! He didn’t need any reminder that he was nervous.

“I can ask him for you.” Marc took a step forward, but Jakob grabbed him by his arm.

“Are you crazy? No, no, please, no.” The embarrassment would kill Jakob. Slowly pining away, yearning for Ivo, didn’t seem to be that bad of an alternative to death.

Marc shrugged and tilted his head, a smug grin on his lips. “I only want to help.” Another filthy chuckle fouled the air around them. “Seriously, Jakob, get a grip on yourself and ask him. It’s not that difficult.”

For normal people, asking that simple question may have been a piece of cake, but for “Four-Eyes Jakob” and “Crumble Cake Skin Feldmann”? “I’ll consider it.” Perhaps another month and the crush would go away all by itself. They always did. He eyed Ivo again and sighed. This infatuation, however, might need some harder medication.

With another huff, Marc shook his head. “Okay. While you’re considering,” he drew quotation marks into the air, “let me share the newest rumors with you. A few minutes ago, two white vans with federal license plates pulled up at the security lock. Our friends of the BKA are back.”

The German federal police had paid them a last visit about a year ago when they had arrested a criminal with a suspected Ebola infection. It had turned out to be a false alarm though. “Did you hear anything about why they are here?”

“Nope.” Marc let the p plop. “I’ll be dicked anyway because they definitely won’t need an orthopedist unless Queen Angie sprained her ankle on a secret holiday in the Dolomites.”

Maybe they needed a geneticist? Helping to convict—or exonerate—a criminal would distract Jakob from Ivo at least. Was hijacking a doctor’s thoughts a felony? If so, Ivo was guilty: a cute rogue with a killer smile. Jakob lowered his head until his chin touched his chest. He had to stop spending all of his weekends reading fantasy graphic novels at home. At the age of thirty-three, he should have something better to do. With real people. He sighed once more.

Buy the book:

 

Meet the author:

Mario K. Lipinski (born in November, 1975, in Germany) lives in Herne, Germany.

He is a spare-time author and, in “real” life, is a mathematician teaching at university level. Does it show in his books? Yes, it does.

English is not his native language, and a frequent question is why he does write in English. For more than 15 years, most of the books he has read have been in English. So, it felt natural for him to write in English, too.

He is into romance with a capital R.

Where to find the author:

 


Tour Dates & Stops:

Parker Williams, Divine Magazine, Chris McHart, Velvet Panic, MM Good Book Reviews,

The Hat Party, Bayou Book Junkie, Inked Rainbow Reads, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words,

Bonkers About Books, Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews, Outrageous Heroes, Alpha Book Club,

Iyana Jenna, Jessie G. Books, BFD Book Blog, Cheekypee Reads and Reviews,

Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents, Mikky’s World of Books, Unquietly Me

 

Giveaway

Enter to win.  Must be 18 years of age or older. Link and prize provided by the author and Pride Promotions.

 

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Grace R. Duncan Shares Her Inspiration Behind “Patience” (guest blog, excerpt and giveaway)

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Patience (Forbes Mates #2) by Grace R. Duncan
D
reamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Reese Dante

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Grace R. Duncan here to share some special inspiration behind her latest story, Patience. Welcome, Grace.

Hello! Thank you to Scattered Thoughts and Rogues Words for giving me space on the blog to babble today!

This is the third stop on the Music Clues part of the blog tour. Links to all the stops can be found on my website at the blog tour page: http://www.grace-duncan.com/graces-blog/patience-blog-tour

I’m a huge music fan and when I sat down to write Patience, I’d figured out pretty quickly that Chad was, as well. He absolutely loves 80s music and has a tendency to quote (or, rather, refer to them since I didn’t want to get into copyright trouble) the songs. Twelve of those 80s songs were referenced by Chad throughout Patience.

For twelve of the stops on the tour, there will be a clue (the reference) to one of the songs and an answer with excerpt for one of the other songs. You can see which blogs are participating on the blog tour page above.

For today, the answer song is Thriller by Michael Jackson.

The clue was: “He grinned when Michael Jackson sang about demons closing in, followed by Vincent Price threatening darkness and blood.”

You can see the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOnqjkJTMaA

And the excerpt from Patience:

The drive was too short for any kind of conversation, and Chad didn’t think Jamie wanted to talk anymore for the moment. That was okay with him; he was still trying to absorb everything.

He turned on the radio to his favorite Pandora ’80s station. He grinned when Michael Jackson sang about demons closing in, followed by Vincent Price threatening darkness and blood. Jamie laughed, and Chad decided he wanted to hear that a lot.

Chad didn’t know if it was this mate link or something else, but he found he didn’t really want to let Jamie go yet. So when they pulled up to the alley outside of The O and parked, then rummaged through the recycling bins to find Jamie’s stuff gone, Chad was absurdly glad of that.

They did go inside, and to Jamie’s obvious relief, his wallet was there. They’d taken his cash, phone, and keys, and his clothes had apparently been collected with the recycling earlier that day. But whoever had gone through his stuff dropped his wallet outside the door, so at least he had his driver’s license and bank cards.

It was wrong of Chad to be glad the rest was gone—he knew that—but it gave Chad an excuse to keep Jamie with him. He wasn’t quite ready to ask if it was more of the bond thing or not, so he kept the feelings to himself for the time being.

And the next clue is here:

“He paused to lower the volume on the stereo he’d just turned on, laughing when he heard Duran Duran talk about hunting and being hungry.”

Each tour stop will have an individual prize as well as an entry into the grand prize.  Good luck! And thanks for participating!

Patience blog tourFollow tour here.

Blurb

Jamie Ryan was almost ready to accept he’d never find his destined mate. They’re uncommon to begin with and same-sex versions downright rare. Since his gay best friend found a destined mate, Jamie figured he was out of luck. Until end of semester stress forces him to go through the full-moon shift early. Stuck in wolf form, he runs into none other than his destined mate. Who’s human.

Chad Sutton has always had good instincts. They served him well as a detective and continued on when he went private. Those instincts tell him there’s something about the dog that comes up to him while running away from animal control that isn’t quite right. He works to put the pieces together, but is unsuccessful until his dog turns into a human before his eyes.

Jamie has no idea what a shifter’s mate bite will do to a human. He’s terrified to try—and possibly kill his mate. They hunt together for answers while working together on a case for Chad. It’s easy to see they belong together, but Jamie fears the gods gave him someone he can’t keep.

Buy links: Dreamspinner ◊ Amazon ◊ ARe ◊ B&N ◊ Kobo

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About Grace

Grace Duncan grew up with a wild imagination.  She told stories from an early age – many of which got her into trouble.  Eventually, she learned to channel that imagination into less troublesome areas, including fanfiction, which is what has led her to writing male/male erotica.

A gypsy in her own right, Grace has lived all over the United States.  She has currently set up camp in East Texas with her husband and children – both the human and furry kind.

As one of those rare creatures who loves research, Grace can get lost for hours on the internet, reading up on any number of strange and different topics.  She can also be found writing fanfiction, reading fantasy, crime, suspense, romance and other erotica or even dabbling in art.

Find Grace here:

Website  ◊ FacebookTwitterYoutubeGoodreads

Giveaway

Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.

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