A MelanieM Review: A Place to Call Their Own by Dean Pace-Frech

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

A Place To Call Their OwnFrank Greerson and Gregory Young have been discharged from the Army and are headed to their childhood homes. They both defied their parents in 1861 when they joined the Army. After battling southern rebels and preserving the Union of the United States of America, the two men set out to battle the Kansas Prairie and build a life together. Once they find their claim, they encounter common obstacles to life on the Kansas Prairie in 1866: Native Americans, tornadoes, wild animals, and weather.

When a prairie fire destroys their crops and takes their neighbor’s lives, Frank and Gregory are instructed to find their young son’s aunt. Faced with leaving a destroyed claim, the railroad coming through their land, and dwindling funds, Frank and Gregory must decide whether to leave the place they have worked hard to make their own or fulfill their friends’ dying wishes.

When I first started into A Place to Call Their Own the pacing and style of the story was at once both so different from all the other stories I’ve read  (or am reading) and yet so  oddly familiar as well.  It was in the matter of fact tone of the narration, the “plain speaking” manner of its characters, and the precisely lived hours of their days that Dean Pace-Frech lays out for us that niggled at my brain, telling me I recognized, not the story or characters, no…but the old style, slower approach of storytelling and the affection for the past in the author’s heart.

Then it hit me…the author already laid it out for us…right at the beginning…something I had glossed over too quickly.

“Six miles beyond them, two bachelors were living in one house. They had taken two farms, and built the house on the line between them…they cooked and ate together in the middle of the house.” —Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House on the Prairie

Dean Pace-Frech may have used that quote from my beloved Laura Ingalls Wilder as inspiration but maybe he loved the matter of fact every day descriptions too.  For some of A Place to Call Their Own conjures up visions of the Little House on the Prairie sage, M/M style, in a wonderful way, making history alive again through the lives of two men who love one another.

As we enter the story, Frank Greerson and Gregory Young are already a couple, albeit a hidden one, and have decided on a course of action, taking their savings and  heading out to the 1861 Kansas territory and making a land grab for the free land where they figure they can be themselves,  a “safe” couple.

Their back story will come along later.  Its their journey, their relatives, their wagons, cows, building the cabin, interaction with the local Osage Indians, that will have a lovely (and well researched ) feel. The author includes the expansion of the railroad and the Homestead act and the villainy associated with claim jumping. Such a life always included its perils, and angst.  And both young men still have much growing up to do, even having served in the Civil War and survived.

This story is low on sex and high on love and survival, in a place where they find that having used their energy to make an extra bed in their first prairie house just might ensure that their reputations stay intact enough for their neighbors to lend them a hand when necessary.

I sank into this story much that same as I did the Little House in the Prairie books and when I came to the end, I was saddened to see that there was not another waiting for me so I could know how the journey continues for Frank and Gregory and others.  That was really my only issue here, that the story  ends too abruptly.

I hope that Dean Pace-Frech  will consider taking it further, letting us know what the next leg in their journey was and how it turned out.  A new M/M Western Historical Saga is just the thing I’ve been looking for.  I’m sure I’m not the only one.

Consider  A Place to Call Their Own by Dean Pace-Frech a story I absolutely recommend if you love historical stories and a look into the past.  Or even are, as I am, totally fond of Little House on the Prairie.  Pick this up, and prepare to fall in love all  over again.

 

Cover art by Written Ink Designs.  I like the cover but its too generic and I could swear I’ve seen it used before.

Sales Links:  JMS Books LLC  |  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 156 pages
Published May 31st 2015 by JMS Books LLC (first published July 1st 2012)
ASINB00X64JP0S
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Jeri Review: Five-Sided Heart by Max MacGowan

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Rating:  3.5 Stars out of 5

Five Sided HeartI’ve read a few poly books. MMM and MMF. Never have I read a MMMMM book. Yes, you read that right. A five man poly relationship. Sounds….complicated. Honestly, it was anything but.

Five men, all broken in one way or another serendipitously meet at the ferry dock. Seems they all missed the boat back to the Outer Banks, but Noah had been there for his father’s funeral and it turns out his father left him his boat. So he offers everyone a ride.

After the boat sinks and they swim back to shore, Noah offers all of the guys a shower and some warm clothes. Then they pull out the booze.

Noah is definitely the center of this relationship and book. Ten years before his father had kicked him out for being gay and he hasn’t been back until now. He is shocked to learn that his father left him not only the boat, but another boat and his house.

Ian is his neighbor. Living in the house next door to the one Noah just inherited, he is struggling with his break up with his long time boyfriend.

Ty lives a mile or so down the beach with his great aunt who raised him but is now struggling with Alzheimer’s.

Jacob and Gabriel seem to be just passing through, but are not in a hurry to go anywhere.

All five stumble into a relationship of sorts. No one know what it is or how long it will last. But being together just feels right.

This story could have been such a mess. But it wasn’t at all. All five men are their own person. No one man is in control, no one man is the subordinate. They are all equals in this crazy polygon. They all come together so naturally as if they were all waiting for each other. They help each other discover pieces of themselves, to heal and to love.

While some of the vernacular was a bit odd at times, and it really bugs me when “real life” (ie jobs, apartments, etc) gets forgotten, I still really enjoyed this story of five broken hearts coming together to make one complete heart.

Cover art by Brooke Albrecht is simple and lovely.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | ARe | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 230 pages
Published May 16th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634772679 (ISBN13: 9781634772679)
Edition LanguageEnglish

 

An Ali Audiobook Review: There’s Something About Ari by L.B. Gregg, Nick. J. Russo Narrator

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Rating:  3 stars out of 5

 There's Something About ARi audioBuck Ellis’s future seems pretty damn bright. With a full college scholarship in hand, he’s going to ditch Bluewater Bay and pave the way for his kid brother Charlie to do the same. The only fly in Buck’s ointment is his ten-year addiction to his best friend since second grade, his true love, and his Achilles heel: Ari Valentine, Mr. Least Likely to Succeed.

 

But then Buck’s mother dies, changing everything, and five years later, his future is still on hold. It’s a struggle to keep food on the table, a roof over their heads, and Charlie on the straight and narrow. Buck can’t afford any temptation, especially in the form of the newly returned, super hot, super confident, super successful television star Ari Valentine.

 

ADHD poster-child Ari Valentine left for Hollywood and lost everything, including his bad reputation. Then the breakthrough role of his skyrocketing career lands him back in Bluewater Bay, to the stunned disbelief of, well, everyone. But there’s only one person Ari longs to impress—the only person who ever really mattered to him, the person he left behind: Buck Ellis.

 

Nothing has gone right for Buck in years; his mother died, his best friend left and he was left alone to take care of his younger brother.  He has pretty much spent the last five years in standstill, still working at the coffee shop and just surviving and suddenly his best friend decides to come back to town and move in next door upsetting everything.  Ari is not willing to give up on Buck and is determined to keep pushing till he gets what he wants.

 

This was a nice story, if a bit short.  Most of the book was spent with Buck determined to stay away from Ari and keep everything the same.  There isn’t much of a conclusion to their problems, just Buck deciding not to fight it anymore.  I wish there had been a bit more to the story and that I had been able to see them actually work through their problems a bit more.

 

Nick Russo once again did a wonderful job narrating this story.  I could connect with the characters through the voices and emotions he portrayed.

Cover art by LC Chase is nice and follows the pattern for the series.

Sales Links:  Riptide | Audible | Amazon | iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Audiobook, 2 hrs 41 min
Published: May 9, 2016 (ebook first published November 10, 2014)
Edition Language: English

Series: Bluewater Bay #2

A VVivacious Review: No Good Deed by Michael Rupured

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5
 
No Good DeedDaniel Bradbury and James Walker have a lot in common. Both of them find themselves in dire straits after having been kicked out of their houses by their parents and both of them die within hours of each other.
 
On Christmas Eve Philip Potter comes home to be informed that his lover James killed himself. Soon after that he meets Beau Carter, a high school English teacher.
 
As Philip finds himself a suspect in Daniel’s murder, he finds himself desperate and turns to a surprising ally to clear his name and solve the mystery.
 
That is my attempt at writing a blurb for this story, but I don’t think it quite covers it. Mostly because this book has a lot going on and the blurb would turn out longer then this review if I attempted to cover everybody so I am not. But as such the official blurb of this book is a good preview for what’s in store for you.
 
I read this book in starts and stops, procrastinated a lot and then one day decided that I am not going to let up till I finish this book and that is how I finished this book. The reason for the multiple starts and stops in the beginning is the fact that I didn’t find the first half of the book very interesting. This is because the first half of the book is essentially a setup for how things go down in the latter half of the book. What this entails is basically an information dump where the author introduces a bunch of characters and fleshes them out really nicely. But there is just too much happening to hold your interest. Also a lot of things happening in the beginning are quite tragic which kind of sets an atmosphere of gloom over the book which just doesn’t let up for quite a few chapters.
 
This book is kind of like a murder mystery without much of a mystery. There is someone killing teenage boys who turn tricks for a trade and he is definitely not stopping at one. The only thing we know for sure about this murderer is that he drives a yellow Continental car. This book has a lot of characters interacting with each other in multiple ways that complicates the search for the murderer.
 
I liked Philip instantaneously seeing him being so nice and charitable. Also the author manages to get us to like Potter really easily by introducing Beau, who is quite annoying. So I guess the fact that I could see Philip in contrast to Beau really increased my liking of Philip.
 
But the characters who make this book really worth reading are Terrence, Anthony, Harold and Daniel. Terrence is this fire-cracker of a guy full of life who wants to avenge his boyfriend, Daniel. Daniel was someone I liked from the moment I started reading about him and his death was something that really set the tone for this book. Anthony is a PI hired by George Walker on the behest of Philip to find out the person who murdered Daniel. I loved Anthony a lot especially his interactions with Terrence which were awfully endearing. Harold Clarkson is a boy who likes to dress up in girl’s clothes, but he knows his father will never understand. What I liked about Harold can be summed up in the fact that I had him pegged as gay from the get go but when he himself says that despite his father’s thinking that guys who like girlish things are homosexual he definitely doesn’t think of himself as one, made me realize that even I render judgement without knowing the whole story.
 
George Walker is James’ uncle and also a lawyer. When Philip ends up needing a lawyer on account of him being a suspect he goes to George as he is the only lawyer he knows but George and James end up sharing quite a few interests and develop an unlikely but charming friendship.
 
This book is really well written and once you pass the halfway mark it also becomes very interesting. As such the story is not much of a mystery since the murderer was narrowed down to two possibilities early on in the book, but the back forth on who is really the murderer and how he is finally caught manages to keep the story interesting till the end.
 
Cover Art by AngstyG. This book has an appropriate cover. It manages to capture the tone of this book, the yellow Continental car and Philip’s state of mind after James’ death.
Sales Links:  DSP Publications | Amazon
Book Details:
ebook, 2nd Edition, 222 pages
Published April 26th 2016 by DSP Publications (first published October 11th 2013)
ISBN13 9781634765718
Edition Language English
 

Sunny Moraine On Writing Pain, Characters and ‘Sword and Star’ (guest blog and giveaway)

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Sword and Star

Sword and Star (Root Code #3) by Sunny Moraine
R
iptide Publishing
Cover art by Kanaxa

Read an Excerpt/Buy It Here

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Sunny Moraine here today to talk about writing, characterization and her latest novel in her Root Code series, Sword and Star.  Welcome, Sunny!.

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Welcome to the SWORD AND STAR blog tour! 

 

SWORD AND STAR is the conclusion of a trilogy I started (with my co-author for LINE AND ORBIT Lisa Soem) over a decade ago. It’s been a long, strange journey and now it’s over. It’s not the first book trilogy I’ve finished, but it’s certainly the closest to my heart.

 

It’s been amazing getting to know this world and these characters over the course of three books, and it’s been even more amazing getting to share it all with readers. Adam Yuga and Lochlan d’Bideshi’s story is done, Eva Reyes and Kyle Waverly have found their own conclusion, Kae and Leila’s part in this tale is over (though you’ll see those two again in the forthcoming LINEAGE), and I’ve bid a fond farewell to the Bideshi seer Nkiruka. Goodbyes are never easy, but when you arrive at a good one, it’s immensely satisfying.

 

I’m so grateful to everyone who’s traveled with me, and just as grateful to the people coming to the story now. Whatever category you fall into, I hope you’ll find this final volume a fitting end.

 

Thank you for being here!

 

 

Character Pain

 

One of the things that ends up being most necessary in a story, I think, is the willingness to make your characters suffer.

 

Which can be hard, because – ideally – you love these people. They’ve come to mean an enormous amount to you. You also identify with them; writing them is going to mean getting into their heads, their thoughts, feeling what they feel. If you’re going to put them through pain, writing it means experiencing that pain, at least to some degree. At least if you’re going to write it well.

 

So it’s natural to be inclined to not do so. But that’s a mistake.

 

It’s a mistake in part in terms of the amount of story. An easily resolved problem doesn’t give you much scope for plot. But even more it’s a mistake because it means there’s nothing at stake, and in order for a story to be engaging, the stakes have to be high. Usually the higher the better. Which means danger, severe consequences if things go wrong – and things pretty much have to go wrong, or the danger won’t seem real.

 

Though the entire Root Code trilogy, I’ve been trying to raise the stakes. LINE AND ORBIT ends with a climactic battle; SWORD AND STAR begins in the midst of a buildup to war, and the story as a whole is the story of that war. You don’t get stakes much higher than that – the war itself has the potential to be a war wherein the human race destroys itself. But that’s only a backdrop for the fear and suffering I put my characters through. I tried to put them through as much as I reasonably could, pushing them to their limit – which is important, because when you push a character as far as you can, you get to know them in a way nothing else allows for.

 

Throughout the course of the book, my characters have to decide what they’re willing to fight for, what they’re willing to die for – and even more, whether they’re willing to sacrifice their chance to be with the people they love. Because wondering if you’ll have to choose between saving what you have with those people and saving the lives of millions… I can think of worse things than that, but it’s pretty bad.

 

Especially when the story is ultimately about love, about what love costs, and in the end about how love can heal.

 

So I put my characters through hell. It wasn’t necessarily fun, but it was necessary, and at the end of the book I believed I had given them something meaningful to fight through, to fight for, and that whatever victory they managed to attain was truly worth something as a result. And that the love they all had for each other was worth something as well, because these people are all family more than anything else. I believed the destination justified the journey, but also the other way around.

 

I hope, if you take that journey with them, that you’ll feel the same.

 

 

Sword and Star

About Sword and Star

 

Three months after a brutal battle at Peris, Adam Yuga, Lochlan D’Bideshi, and their rebel fleet are embroiled in a new conflict. But things aren’t going well. Even with Lock’s homeship, Ashwina, at the head of the fleet, the Protectorate forces are adapting to their tactics. Before long, two devastating blows send the ragtag rebels on the run. But the greatest threat may come from within.

 

Since the battle at Peris, Protectorate loyalist Isaac Sinder’s determination to eliminate the rebel fleet has only intensified—along with his ambition. The Protectorate is decaying, and it’s clear to Isaac that only he can save it, by any means necessary.

 

As the situation worsens for the rebels, the strain begins to tell on everyone. But more than exhaustion grows within Adam. Something alien has started to change him. Lochlan fights to hold on, but even he may not be able to follow Adam down the dark road ahead.

 

As Isaac’s obsession turns to insanity, it becomes evident that more sinister plans than his are at work. Bound together by threads of fate and chance, Adam and Lochlan turn their eyes toward a future that may tear them apart—if they’re lucky enough to survive it at all.

 

 

About Sunny Moraine

 

Sunny Moraine’s short fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, Strange Horizons, Nightmare, Lightspeed, Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History, and multiple Year’s Best collections, among other places. They are also responsible for the novels Line and Orbit (cowritten with Lisa Soem), Labyrinthian, and the Casting the Bones trilogy, as well as A Brief History of the Future: collected essays. In addition to authoring, Sunny is a doctoral candidate in sociology and a sometimes college instructor; that last may or may not have been a good move on the part of their department. They unfortunately live just outside Washington DC in a creepy house with two cats and a very long-suffering husband.

Connect with Sunny: 

 

 

SwordAndStar_TourBanner

Giveaway

 

To celebrate the release of Sword and Star, Sunny is giving away a signed copy of the book and a handmade necklace. Leave a comment to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on May 28, 2016. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

 

This title is #3 of the Root Code series.

This title is part of the Songs of Slipstream universe.