An Alisa Review: Soul Seekers by Jake C. Wallace

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Rating:  5 stars out of 5

 

Soul SeekersNineteen-year-old college student Levi Reed has spent his life with hollow emotions and a darkness so deep that he’s convinced he’s losing his mind. He’d give anything to feel something, anything, real.

 

When a mysterious stranger appears, Levi is convinced the man is trying to kill him. When he’s near, Levi experiences head-crushing pain and something surprising—real emotions for the first time. Jeb Monroe is arrogant, self-assured, closed-off, and handsome, but he isn’t the harbinger of doom Levi assumed. Jeb’s mission: help Levi find his missing soul.

 

Levi is pulled into the secret world of Seers and Keepers, those born with the innate ability to manipulate souls and tasked with balancing the negative energy they can produce. Levi learns he possesses a rare gift, and he’s in danger. As Jeb and Levi grow closer, they discover a group of zealots who want to harness Levi’s power to cleanse the world of damaged souls. Everyone Levi cares for is threatened unless he agrees to become their tool of death. But agreeing could spell the destruction of humankind. With no one to trust and nothing as it appears, it’s up to Levi to save them all.

 

JC Wallace did a wonderful job with this story.  I wasn’t quite sure what to expect with this story, but it went above and beyond what I was thinking.  There were enough twists and turns that I didn’t want to put the book down just so I could find out what would happen next.

 

Levi has never felt any real emotions in his life until he comes close to Jeb.  Unfortunately they aren’t nice emotions and it has Levi thinking the worst.  When Levi and Jeb connect and then learn that the person they have been relying on for answers isn’t who she says she is their world is turned upside down again.

 

This story is from Levi’s point of view and I would feel how soul crushing everything he has been through has been.  When he connects with Jeb and finally sees some good he immediately thinks the worst when Jeb closes himself off again.  I could feel his confusion over his situation and what to do, but he quickly figures out what must be done.

 

Cover art by Brooke Albrecht is nice and gives a good idea of the main characters in the story.

Sales Links:   Dreamspinner Press | ARe | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 330 pages
Published June 22nd 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 163477261X (ISBN13: 9781634772617)
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Lila Review: Last Mechanic Standing (Wrench Wars #1) by L.A. Witt

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

 

Last Mechanic StandingEveryone at Jim Irving’s garage is gung ho about Wrench Wars, a new reality show featuring mechanics. Everyone, that is, except talented mechanic Chandler Scott, the sole employee who has refused to sign the contract. The rest of the mechanics are pressuring him too, because without Chandler—and his volatile interactions with his boss—no one’s getting on the show.

Chandler’s one ally is Jim’s son, Mark, who’s being forced to work for his dad until he pays down his student loans or finds a better job—and who’s been Chandler’s secret lover for a while.

Then a playful tryst in the garage blows up in their faces, giving the network ammo to blackmail Chandler by threatening to out Mark to his father. Now Chandler is backed into a corner, and Mark needs to decide how far he’s willing to go to protect the man who’s been sharing his bed… and may have stolen his heart.

 

Last Mechanic Standing is an introductory novella. It’s the first of four tight together by the reality tv show, Wrench Wars. Marie Sexton will be joining in with a re-release and a new novella. The concept is promising; it just didn’t work for me in this particular installment.

Chandler Scott is the only mechanic in Jim Irving’s garage that hasn’t sign the consent form to be part of the reality show by the time the story starts. He’s also the one the production company is counting on to bring up the ratings due to his explosive altercations with Jim. Chandler doesn’t want to have his life on TV, but especially not his relationship with Jim’s son.

 

After finishing college, Mark Irving came home to work on his father garage. Unable to find a job in his field, he’s stuck living with his parents and having a mountain of student loans to pay. The only good thing in his life is Chandler. They have been together for about two years, and their relationship keeps them both afloat.

 

The stress of having the cameras around and their need for each other caught them unaware, and the network gets the opportunity they were looking for to get Chandler to sign the contract. He does, and the reality show goes into production, wrecking havoc in Chandler’s and Mark’s life.

 

The reader passes the majority fo the time in Chandler’s and Mark’s heads. There isn’t much happening with the show itself. The primary focus of the story is how the show affects the MCs’ relationship. We get many pages of characters’ introspects and musings about their past, their present, and the future they think they couldn’t have. It’s almost like reading their diaries.

 

The interactions with other characters were limited to short bursts to bring the point home about Chandler worriedness about signing the contract. We do see Mark’s growth and how he steps up to his dad, perhaps too late, to put his relationship with Chandler first. They’re a lovely couple when they have time to be together, but their story wasn’t convincing enough.

 

Overall, this novella is a nice short read that promises a brighter set of stories. I’m counting on the four of them to work well as a set. Most likely, in the end, we would have a better picture of all the relationships.

 

I like the cover by Garrett Leigh, but it seems a little generic for the story. The lettering job is very well done, though.

 

Sale Links: Dreamspinner | Amazon | ARe

 

Book Details:

 

ebook, 80 pages
Published: July 6, 2016, by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN: 1634773802 (ISBN13: 9781634773805)
Edition Language: English

 

Series: Wrench Wars
Book #1: Last Mechanic Standing

 

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Becoming Rory (College Rose Romance) by Ashavan Doyon

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Becoming RoryRory Graeble is a returning college sophomore and a new man. Or at least he’s trying to be a new man. Outed last year when a gay bashing turned the campus upside down, the former “Lawrence” Graeble, a geeky introverted guy who sucked men off in the steam tunnels off-campus, is now out-and-proud Rory, the sole leader of the Queer Alliance. Showing up early for orientation with other student leaders, Rory meets Danny Smits at a party, and the two literally make sparks fly together.

Contrary to his past introverted behavior, Rory decides to pursue Danny, who is the leader of the Young Entrepreneurs on campus. A skater, Danny and his group have designed a new board and are trying to find funding to move their ideas into reality. In the meantime, Rory’s RA, Barry, is becoming a close friend and is pursuing a relationship with Rory’s BFF, Stacie. Getting the support of his friends while he pursues Danny, who is sometimes like quicksilver, is important to Rory. But catching Danny, and defining their relationship is very difficult, and when he finds out why, Rory allows self-doubt to cloud the picture.

Danny suffers from a <spoiler> that has led to some very destructive behaviors in the past, including drug addiction and a criminal record. When the bank turns down the loan application to get the skateboard business up and running, he nosedives into a deep depression, knowing the cause is his criminal record. Rory has seen this disorder up close in a family member in the past, so he decides to find out more about it before he makes any commitment to his volatile lover. Will he go or stay? Will Danny’s moods even allow him to recognize his own feelings toward Rory? And what about Danny’s friends, his crew as he calls them; will they allow him enough slack to decide for himself about Rory? After all, they’ve been his rock and been his only stabilizing influence in the past. Will they now allow that role to be held by Rory?

There’s so much to this story that it’s difficult to sift through all the facts, emotions, and drama. There’s also a subplot surrounding Barry and Stacie, and there are references to the past gay bashing on campus and to the characters involved. I suspect these were featured in previous stories by this author and it was difficult to get them all straight, so this story should be labeled as part of a series. It can still be read as a standalone, but readers like me may be confused and long to have that backstory filled. I liked the basic premise of this story, however it felt too long. And there was a lot of sex, very rough sex, bordering on abusive sex. By the latter part of the book, I glossed over the sex scenes to get back to the rest of the action.

The disorder wasn’t revealed until later in the book, and it was treated with so much gravity that if I happened to suffer from it, I would have definitely tipped into depression. I don’t mean to make light of it, not at all. It’s just that it was treated like something insurmountable and fatal, and yet I’ve known many people with the disorder who have stabilized with treatment. But in this book it felt quite hopeless.

One other thing, perhaps minor, perhaps not—there was a concurrent romance between Barry and Stacie that I felt that would have been okay as a quick mention, but quite a bit of time was spent on it and I didn’t particularly care for what happened or the time spent on them in the story.

Overall, the storyline felt very dark and depressing. I honestly don’t recommend it if you are looking for a sweet young adult romance, but if you like hurt-comfort stories and don’t mind some dark angst mixed in, you might want to consider this one.

~~~~~

Cover Art by Kris Norris fits the story quite well as it features a headshot of a young man with a skateboarder jumping in the background.

Sales Links:  Torquere Press | ARe | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 240 pages
Published June 8th 2016 by Torquere Press LLC
ASINB01GLQA3KS
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesCollege Rose Romance

A Lila Review: Loving Djinni by Beryll & Osiris Brackhaus

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Loving DjinniLeft to die in a sealed tomb, David, an educated and good-natured New York arts dealer and part-time forger, stumbles over an old oil lamp. But instead of producing a little light for David’s last hours, it conjures forth a veritable djinni.
An ancient, tempting, puckish djinni, who in David’s company prefers to show himself as an irresistibly handsome, fit and barely legal teenager. Quite literally an incarnation of trouble waiting to happen.
So what’s a modern man to do with his three wishes, when he can literally wish for anything except the one thing the truly desires – to mend his broken heart?

 

Loving Djinni brings a refreshing breath of air to the traditional MM fantasy genre. It starts as a mix between Indiana Jones and Lara Croft but rapidly finds its own place. I think (please don’t quote me) that this is my first MM djinni story. It was a pleasant surprise, to say the least, and I really enjoyed this authors’ style.

 

David seems a little distant and overdramatic at the beginning of the story, but the reader warms up to him as soon as they learned more about his story. The more time he spent with Sharu, the more we wanted for them to get their HEA. David is the traditional boy next door in everything but his job as a questionable art dealer. That hint of spice he has in him comes through the story creating an interesting character.

 

I have to say that Sharu was my favorite of the two main characters. I like the idea of having the djinni learning about the new world after his long confinement on his own and with minimal help from David. How many times he had been hurt by his masters has obviously shaped the person he’s now. David was the right master for him, caring, loving, but at the same time, intelligent and somehow outgoing.

 

This story has a great amount of sarcasm and humor. Their banter is fun and develops as they get to know each other better. Their daily lives give us an inside of what they both wanted, and there was a nice compromise during their relationship. They worked great as a team and as a couple. Their chemistry is sizzling, and the UST only enhanced it.

 

There aren’t many secondary characters, but Stanley and Mrs. Weintraub worked well, bringing trouble and comedic relief into the story. Yes, Stanley was perhaps too much of a stereotypical antagonist, but it felt real in this fantasy world. My less favorite parts were their history and art related conversations. For some reason, they didn’t read as smooth as the rest of the story.

 

I’m really impressed by this, new to me authors, and I’m definitely looking forward to more books from them.

 

The cover by Natalya Nesterona is perfect for this story. It shows both characters, the lamp, and David’s apartment. A great combination of style and fantasy.

 

Sale Links: Smashwords | Amazon | ARe

Book Details:

 

ebook, 190 pages
Published: April 14, 2016, Self-Published
ISBN: 9781310559877
Edition Language: English

 

A Stella Review: To Arizona (2016 Daily Dose – A Walk on the Wild Side) by Meg Harding

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RATING 3.75 stars  out of 5 

To ArizonaDustin Charleston has just been traded to the Arizona Hares hockey team. As an otter, he’s not too pleased by this. Arizona is dry, he’s leaving his home behind, and he has to move in with a stranger. Things take an even steeper plunge when he meets his roommate.

Chandler Kipling is the captain of the Hares, a least weasel, and he’s got a bit of a thing for his new teammate. Too bad that teammate seems to hate him. And Chandler’s romantic strategies leave something to be desired. Will Dustin be able to get the message he’s trying to send? With a little time, their nightmare might turn into a dream—if they can get past their differences.

A story from the Dreamspinner Press 2016 Daily Dose package “A Walk on the Wild Side”.

Dustin is an otter shifter, he just moved to Arizona to play with a new hockey team. The desert state is really a nightmare to his otter and things go from bad to worse when he realizes Chandler, the captain of the new team and a least weasel shifter (how cute is it?), is going to host Dustin at his house.  The attraction between them is clear from the start but apparently they are more interested in  killing each other. Will they be able to act on the sparkles?

I read one other book by Meg Harding (https://scatteredthoughtsandroguewords.com/2016/04/06/a-stella-review-the-last-favor-by-meg-harding/)  and it seems she has a preference for the use of the present tense form which I hate BTW, but I can say this time it worked better for me. It wasn’t a deterrent, on the contrary my reading flew easily and I ended up devouring it.

I admit I was lost at the start because I didn’t get the whole courting ritual and Chandler’s behaviors confused me. When I finally understood it, everything made sense, I truly enjoyed and appreciated this really cute short. I’m not a great fun of sport theme stories but this little story was very good.

I liked the chemistry between Duncan and Chandler, I “felt” them through all the story. Still what I particularly adored were the second characters and the couple of scenes where different shifters played together. I would love to read more about them and I’m so hoping in a sequel or a spin off about Chris especially.

So if you’re looking for a good story to spend an hour during the coming hot days, give To Arizona a try. It was quick, well written, hot and funny.

The cover art by Catt Ford isn’t a winner. I don’t like it. I don’t like the models and surely they don’t respect how I pictured them in my mind.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | ARe | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 46 pages
Published June 1st 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634774949 (ISBN13: 9781634774949)
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series2016 Daily Dose – A Walk on the Wild Side
CharactersDustin Charleston, Chandler Kipling settingArizona (United States)
Phoenix, Arizona (United States)