A Free Dreamer Review: The Starving Years by Jordan Castillo Price

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

The Starving Years right coverImagine a world without hunger. In 1960, a superfood was invented that made starvation a thing of the past. Manna, the cheaply manufactured staple food, is now as ubiquitous as salt in the world’s cupboards, pantries and larders.

Nelson Oliver knows plenty about manna. He’s a food scientist—according to his diploma, that is. Lately, he’s been running the register at the local video rental dive to scrape together the cash for his exorbitantly priced migraine medication.

In a job fair gone bad, Nelson hooks up with copywriter Javier and his computer-geek pal Tim, who whisks them away from the worst of the fiasco in his repurposed moving truck. At least, Nelson thinks those two are acquainted, but they’re acting so evasive about it, he’s not sure how they know each other, exactly.

Javier is impervious to Nelson’s flirting, and Tim’s name could appear in the dictionary under the entry for “awkward.” And with a riot raging through Manhattan and yet another headache coming on, it doesn’t seem like Nelson will get an answer anytime soon. One thing’s for sure, the tension between the three of them is thick enough to cut with a knife…even one of those dull plastic dealies that come in the package with Mannariffic EZ-Mealz.

When reading the blurb for this book, I’d hoped for a well-developed dystopian story that happens to have gay MCs. Unfortunately, the story didn’t quite live up to my hopes.

The thing that bothered me the most was the severe lack of world building. There’s manna, some sort of artificial food thing. Almost everybody eats that stuff instead of real food. We never do find out why this became so popular, nor do we find out what it’s made of or how it is produced. That’s a real shame, because the concept was certainly very interesting.

Another thing was the whole thing about a man “putting his mark” on a (pregnant) woman. It seems to be a big deal and very important and yet we never learn the how and the why. Apparently not having a father for your child is a huge thing in this society, but the author failed to explain why.

Overall, the story could have used a bit more depth. All three MCs were thinking with their dicks a little too much for my taste. And the love was a bit too insta for me. But at least the sex was hot.

All three MCs had an interesting past. They could have used a bit more depth too, though.

The plot was engaging and a nice change from your run of the mill m/m romance plot. There actually was a real plot here. Some revelations were a bit foreseeable but overall I definitely wasn’t bored.

All in all, “The Starving Years” had a little too much romance for me and too little actual depth and world building. The plot and the MCs were interesting though, and I felt well entertained.

If you’re looking for M/M romance with a bit of a dystopian feel to it, you’ll probably enjoy this more than I did, since I’d hoped for a solid dystopia with a bit of romance.

Cover: The cover by Jordan Castillo Price shows a man with duct tape over his mouth. Judging by the cover alone, I’d almost expect a BDSM story. I don’t think I would have checked this out, if I hadn’t seen an edition with a different cover first.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book details:

ebook, 286 pages
Published March 5th 2012 by JCP Books LLC (first published March 3rd 2012)
ISBN139781935540434
Edition LanguageEnglish
URLhttp://jordancastilloprice.com/starvingyears/index.html settingNew York (United States)

A VVivacious Review: Fire Up My Heart by Asta Idonea

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Rating: 5 Stars out of 5                    ★★★★★
 
Fire Up my HeartFane Maddox works in a rundown gay bar and battles loneliness. His life has been the same for ages but one flickering, neon sign and two legs hanging out of a dumpster are going to change his life forever.
 
Jo-E is one in a line of top-notch service bots but with a fried wiring, but when Fane fixes the glitch and wakes Jo-E up something is different. Jo-E realizes that ever since Fane woke him he has been different, for one he now has opinions and… emotions?
 
As Samuel Yapp the robotics engineer who discarded Jo-E realizes the discovery he trashed, he can’t wait to get his hands on Jo-E again but what will Fane decide to do – give Jo-E up or fight for him?
 
This story is set in the year 2045 where service bots are common and the race to the creation of strong Artificial Intelligence to the extent that it mimics humanity is on.
 
This is a short story/novella but it packs a punch. The author has a really awesome ability of investing the reader in the fate of the characters of the story from very early on. I read this story in a single sitting and the read was most enjoyable.
 
We have Fane Maddox who is lonely and his loneliness is tangible but Fane is a really nice person, I loved his personality, his humanity. He is one of those characters you like just because they are human and all humans deserve to be loved even if they are nothing extraordinary. I actually loved the character of Fane he came across as a really simple and straightforward human being.
 
Jo-E on the other hand is inching ever closer to humanity but his every human emotion seems tied to Fane. Like every robots take over the earth movie fan out there I am a bit scared of his abilities especially towards the end but what I loved about this story was that we got a look-see into Jo-E’s wiring and how he sees the world and how he figures out what is happening to him.
 
This story is fantastic on so many levels. The best part of the story was that how invested it had me in its characters and their happiness. Also I loved how the romance between Fane and Jo-E is handled, so carefully and slowly and plausibly. The author gives generous times to both characters to work out their feelings for each other and the plot which heightens their emotions for each other works out very well and gives the story the right push at the right time.
 
This story is sweet and has you thinking a lot and I am awfully intrigued about knowing more about these two characters also about the implications of having such strong-AI on a rogue bot because seriously remember every book and movie that has robots take over the world and enslave the human race.
 
This story has it all and is a must read. This is my second book by this author and from what I have deduced so far this author is really good.
 
Cover Art by AngstyG. That cover is just beautiful and along with that blurb I don’t think anyone in their right mind can resist being intrigued by this book.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | ARe | Amazon

Book Details:
ebook, 67 pages
Published May 25th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634773330 (ISBN13: 9781634773331)
Edition Language English
URL

A Paul B Review: Druids Lodge by Kelly Clemmons

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Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

DRuids LodgeLuke Devlin’s surrogate father Henry Darcy has died from a massive heart attack.  The consequences of this event may be even more devastating.  He faces the loss of the home he has had for the last few years.  And he must face Henry’s wayward son, Finn, whom Luke hasn’t seen since he returned to England at age 16.  Luke does not understand how Finn has not visited his father all these years.

Finn Darcy has a reason for not visiting and it has nothing to do with his father.  Finn, his father, and half the people who live and work at the lodge that the family runs are werecats.  During his first shift when he was thirteen, a frightened Luke watched as Finn’s panther hunts and kills a deer.  Seeing this, Luke runs away which triggers Finn’s hunter instincts.  Finn’s panther then marks Luke as his mate by scratching his chest.  Ever since that time, Finn has worried about losing control over his panther whenever he is near Luke.

The passion between the two heats up when the two meet again, even if Luke still resents Finn for staying away so long.  Thinking that it would be a one night stand as Finn is bound to take off soon after his father’s funeral, Luke agrees to sleep with Finn.  However, things turn on him after he agrees that he belongs to Finn and receives Finn’s mating bite.  When Luke finds out the significance of this and the fact that he has been living with a werecat clan for the last several years, Luke is upset.  Finn now must work to get back Luke’s trust that they had as children or face the loneliness that their fathers had while they were growing up.  To make matters worse, young werecat alphas and their mates have been disappearing around the world.  Finn must make sure the same fate does not befall them.

I found this to be a decent shifter story overall.  The first part of the book deals with the reunion of childhood friends Luke and Finn to deal with the death of Finn’s father who has become a father figure to Luke after his dad’s passing.  I am always leery of either forced matings or matings done under false pretenses and this book has a combination of both.  Finn must mate to become alpha but does not tell Luke the implications of it until after Finn basically tricks Luke into agreeing to mate.  The theme of trust in a relationship runs throughout the book.  I like that Luke does not make it easy for Finn and that lingering sense of mistrust is a current throughout the book.  It is especially important when Luke’s ex Max enters the picture.

The cover art features Finn’s panther above the hunting lodge that the panther clan owns.  Cover designer Ann Cain has done well to represent the novel with her work.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | ARe | Amazon

Book Details:

EBook, 214 pages
Published:  May 2, 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN:  978-1-63477-277-8
Edition Language:  English

Jump into the Romance and Fun with Julie Lynn Hayes ‘Bad Dogs and Drag Queens’ (interview, excerpt, and giveaway)

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Bad Dogs and Drag Queens (Rose and Thorne #1) by Julie Lynn Hayes
Release Date: May 25, 2016

Goodreads Link
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Paul Richmond

 

Today Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is very lucky to be interviewing Julie Lynn Hayes,  author of Bad Dogs and Drag Queens.  Hi Julie, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your current book.

  •  Do you have pictures that you use for your characters? Can you share them with us?

I do have a picture I used for Vinnie. I’d be happy to share it, this is one great looking guy.

  • What kind of book would you like to write that people would see as a huge departure for you?

I tend to be all over the place, so I’m not sure what would be a huge departure. Maybe something to do with sports? Which I don’t see happening. Lol Or a political book, since my knowledge of politics is really sparse. Just ask my daughter, Sarah. She can tell some real embarrassing stories about that lol

  • Have you ever killed a character? Was it traumatic for you? If you haven’t killed one, would you ever consider it?

Yes, more than once. Some were more traumatic than others. The most traumatic was in When Will I See You Again. That one was very upsetting to me, but also necessary.

  • Favorite location you’ve ever written about?

I have a story set in New Orleans. Although I’ve never been, I just love the city, and would love to go someday.

  • What’s your favorite season and favorite activity for that season?

Any season that’s warm, doesn’t involve snow, and lets me write as much as I like.  My work in progress is the third book in my series, so same characters lol

 

Thanks for having me here today!

 

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Blurb

Vinnie Delarosa and Ethan Thorne are partners—on and off the clock. Federal undercover detectives, they’re part of a covert task force designed to promote goodwill between the feds and local authorities. They lend an unobtrusive helping hand wherever it’s needed. No credit required.

Vinnie and Ethan work primarily in the Southeast region of the United States and live together in Richmond, Virginia. A mugger problem brings them to Roanoke, where Vinnie is thrown out as bait to catch the man who’s been snatching purses in a city park, but they end up with more than they bargained for. Why is Vinnie always the one who has to wear the dress? Ethan says it’s because Vinnie looks much prettier in a skirt. How can he argue with that?

Expecting to return to Richmond afterward, Vinnie and Ethan find themselves assigned a new case instead. They are to go undercover at The Stroll, one of the biggest gay nightclubs in Roanoke. Someone is terrorizing both the customers and the performers. Could they be dealing with a hate crime? Someone has to protect the drag queens of Roanoke, so it’s Vinnie and Ethan to the rescue!

The author is donating 10% of the royalties from this book to No Kid Hungry. Visit nokidhungry.org for more information about this organization.

 

Pages or Words: 50,000 words
Categories: Crime Fiction, Fiction, Gay Fiction, Humor, Romance

Excerpt

“Remind me again whose stupid idea this lipstick was,” I huffed under my breath. Without thinking, I licked my lips. They felt greasy, and tasted even worse. I forced myself not to grimace, afraid it might crack the foundation I’d slathered on my face.

“Mine, you sexy beast,” came the smart-ass reply in my ear. “I think you got purty lips, mmhmmm.”

“Fuck you,” I growled. “You should be doing this, not me, and you know it. I did it last time.”

And the time before that. And the time before that. Wait, did I detect a pattern here?

“What I know is you look better in a skirt than I do. And you look damn good out of it too.”

My cheeks filled with heat at Ethan’s words. Luckily the darkness hid a multitude of sins, my embarrassment being the least of them. Hopefully, no one else was listening—I knew I’d never hear the end of it. Just what I needed—to be the object of ridicule of the Roanoke PD.

Buy the book:  Dreamspinner Press | ARe

 

 

 

Meet the Author

Julie Lynn Hayes first began publishing short stories and poetry in the 1990’s, when it was a different ballgame altogether, and Ebooks hadn’t been dreamed of yet. That changed in 2010 with the acceptance of her first romance novel. She’s come a long way since that first book appeared, and is finding the journey a very educational one.

She lives in St. Louis with her daughter Sarah and her cat Ramesses. She often writes of two men finding true love and happiness in one another’s arms, and is a great believer in the happily ever after. She likes to write in different genres, to stretch herself in order to see what is possible. Her great challenge is to be told something can’t be done—she feels compelled to do it.

When she isn’t writing, she enjoys crafts, such as crocheting and cross stitch, needlepoint and knitting, and she loves to cook, spending time watching the Food Network. Her favorite chef is Geoffrey Zakarian. Her family thinks she’s a bit off, but she doesn’t mind. Marching to the beat of one’s own drummer is a good thing, after all. Her published works can be found at Dreamspinner Press, eXtasy Books, and Wayward Ink Press.

Where to find the author:

 


Tour Dates & Stops:

23-May: Open Skye Book Reviews, My Fiction Nook, Multitasking Mommas

24-May: Velvet Panic, Nephy Hart, Louise Lyons

25-May: Happily Ever Chapter, Books A to Z, The Novel Approach

26-May: Parker Williams, Man2ManTastic, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words

27-May: Divine Magazine, A.M. Leibowitz

30-May: Jessie G. Books, Inked Rainbow Reads, Wake Up Your Wild Side

31-May: Outrageous Heroes, Bayou Book Junkie

1-Jun: Hearts on Fire, Nautical Star Books, Prism Book Alliance

2-Jun: Rednecks and Romance, MM Book Escape

3-Jun: Emotion In Motion, Bonkers About Books

6-Jun: Anna Butler Fiction

7-Jun: MM Good Book Reviews

8-Jun: The Fuzzy, Fluffy World of Chris T. Kat

9-Jun: Unquietly Me

10-Jun: BFD Book Blog

13-Jun: Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews

14-Jun: Molly Lolly

15-Jun: Love Bytes

16-Jun: Havan Fellows

17-Jun: Alpha Book Club, Elisa – My Reviews and Ramblings

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Giveaway

Enter to win a gift card, courtesy of Julie Lynn Hayes.  Must be 18 years of age or older.

 

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Book Blitz – Cinnamon and Cigarettes by Samantha Kate (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: Cinnamon and Cigarettes

Author: Samantha Kate

Publisher: Torquere Press

Cover Artist: Kris Norris

Release Date: June 1, 2016

Heat Level: 3

Pairing: F/F

Length: 88,800 words

Genre/Tags: Contemporary, Bisexual, Lesbian Romance, New Adult

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Synopsis

Sara Clarke, recent college grad, is sweet, demure, and cautious in all things, but especially romance—until she meets Moira Estrada, a bold amateur pilot and patron at the library where Sara works. Their intimacy blooms rapidly as they share everything from a sudden medical emergency to Christmas with the Estrada family. With her dashing new girlfriend by her side, Sara learns to overcome some of her greatest fears, whether they be acknowledging her own bisexuality, flying across the sky in a Cessna, or falling in love for the first time.

But Sara’s fear of confrontation is harder to conquer. When asked about her relationship, she finds herself lying to her family, pretending to date a man so she can avoid conflict with her straight-laced and image-conscious parents. But her attempts to please everyone cannot last forever and could result in far worse than her parents’ disapproval: she might lose the respect of her new friends at the library, or become estranged from her sister—or, worst of all, Sara might lose the only person she’s ever truly loved.

Excerpt

Moira pulled her key-ring out of her pocket, plucking out a large silver key from her collection. “Fasten your seat belt. We’re starting the engine now.”

She inserted the key; the plane gave a small lurch as the engine burst to life beneath Sara’s feet, and the propeller began to spin. This engine was nothing like the smooth start of a car; it ignited with a roar, like a motorcycle gunning to maximum velocity, and within moments that sound was pierced with sharp, rhythmic bursts from the propeller’s increasing oscillation. The sound was cacophonous; Sara put her hands to her ears, to block out a fraction of the din.

Amid the noise, she heard Moira speaking into her microphone. “Fairways Air Control, this is Lamassu. Oil pressure gauge is green, transponder is on. Are you receiving transmission?…Okay, thank you. Requesting permission to taxi to Runway Three…You’re the man, sir.”

Sara smiled faintly at her pilot. Moira’s combination of aviation jargon and casual slang was, admittedly, really endearing. So was the way her eyes widened as she scanned the blinking lights and bright monitors in front of her, grinning gleefully, looking simultaneously mischievous and reverent.

“Hang on,” Moira said, removing one hand from the controller and fumbling around by her feet. “I forgot to give you your intercom.” She withdrew another pair of headphones, handing them over. “These will help with the noise.”

Sara put on her headphones; the cacophony was quelled into the distance, now just a background ambiance. In the forefront now was Moira’s voice, smooth and sanguine, every word spoken directly in Sara’s ears.

“Removing parking brake now,” Moira said, a hand reaching out to pull the brake knob near Sara’s knee. The plane slid forward, and Sara gulped, hoping to keep her stomach from lurching as well. “Beginning taxi.”

They slid along the main “road” at a slow crawl. Sara noted each white stripe that passed by until they’d arrived at one of the runways; they did a slow 90-degree turn until they faced the open road. It was barely wide enough to accommodate the plane’s wings, and the forest was perhaps a mile ahead. Was that really enough space for them to take off? Even in such a small aircraft? Wouldn’t it take a massive amount of acceleration to lift them into the air? Was this even possible? Was it—

“Trim and flaps set,” said the voice in Sara’s ear, shaking her out of her fretting. Moira had a more “official” tone now, like one might hear over an automated line, with measured rising and falling inflections. “Engine temperature normal. Wingtip strobes on. Airspeed indicator reads zero.”

Sara fidgeted with the boom mic on her headphones. “That’s a lot of things to know about,” she whispered into it.

Moira turned her head, smiled, and put one hand on Sara’s knee. “That it is. But I’ve had my license for almost four years now, and if I were a shit pilot, they wouldn’t let me waltz back in those doors.” She grinned. “I’m going to bring you home safe, Sara. I promise.”

Sara nodded slowly.

“Okay,” Moira continued, pulling her hand back and gripping the throttle, “Lamassu departing now.

She pushed the throttle in, gradually but firmly, and they lurched forward, slowly at first, but soon they were gathering speed—the pine trees lining the runway lost the detail of their branches and needles, and soon they were a blur of dark teal and mossy green, punctuated by open field—and Sara’s stomach was shoved down and back into the seat; she felt like where she once had flesh and sinew and blood there was now only a void, an empty space filling itself with nothing but the rush of incoming air—

“Okay, Sara, we’re going to lift off—now!

Sara hadn’t known what it was like to lose the ground beneath her until this moment, when Lamassu’s nose flicked up and an anchor tied around her feet her whole life came undone, evaporated, dissipated into the afternoon sunlight—she realized it existed only when it ceased to exist. Suddenly there was space around her in every direction; she was now bound by nothing. The seat belt wrapped snug around her waist, the windshield ahead, the pane of glass a few inches from her right cheek—they seemed trivial, insignificant, incapable of truly binding her when the space beneath her feet was exponentially expanding.

“You’ve taken flight, dear.”

Soon the white lines beneath them vanished as well, as the runway shrank down, becoming a tiny part of a tiny complex that was quickly passing beneath and behind, no longer required, no longer relevant. She needed nothing in the air, only that constant whir of propeller oscillation, the humming of the engine, and the whipping of wind through the microscopic crack between the window and the fuselage. She almost thought she might float above her own seat, no longer subject to earth’s gravitational force.

“How are you feeling?”

Even Moira’s voice was distant now.

“I’m fine,” she said, in a tone that was half hummed, half spoken. She reached one hand up to the windowpane, tracing random curves along the glass with a couple of fingers. “I…I’m flying.”

“That you are.” Moira dropped her professional tone, her voice wrapping snugly around Sara’s head again. “And how does it feel?”

Even the trees were shrinking away now, becoming indistinct clusters of viridian mixed with a soft palette of mossy and earthy hues, separated by strips of gray asphalt drawing mechanical grids along the earth. She looked ahead, and for the first time took in the sky; its cerulean blue spread out infinitely across the horizon, accented with a few wispy cirrus clouds and an occasional burst of gold light reflecting from nearby lakes.

“It’s liberating.”

“Perfect.” Moira pressed a few more buttons, and the plane gently pitched forward, sliding into a consistent altitude. Within a few minutes they leveled off, thousands of feet above the earth, the bustling metropolis a mere memory behind them.

Purchase

Torquere Press

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Meet the Author

Samantha Kate works as a paralibrarian (that’s library support staff) for her day job. In her free time, she tries to pursue more creative projects than is humanly possible. Cinnamon and Cigarettes is her first novel; her short story, “Bottom of the River,” was published in Torquere Press’ Twisted Fables anthology in February 2016.

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Giveaway

Rafflecopter Prize: One winner will be selected to win an eBook copy of Cinnamon and Cigarettes.

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