An Ali Audiobook Review: Everything Changes (Resilient Love #1) by Melanie Hansen and Robert Nieman (Narrator)

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Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
everything-changes-audioWhat happens when friendship catches fire? 

Former Marine and lower-leg amputee Carey Everett keeps a grueling schedule of counseling fellow war veterans and their families. The injury he received in Afghanistan forces him to rely on a reserve of strength he didn’t even know he had. A much deserved vacation will let him reconnect with his best friend, who saved his life and has been there for him through devastating injury and painful recovery. 

Part-time EMT and aspiring singer Jase DeSantis has been in love with Carey for years, but he’s come to accept that his straight friend will never be able to offer more. Jase fills his days with band rehearsals, ambulance shifts, and willing groupies, all while trying to cope with debilitating PTSD. 

A week of sun, fun, and music in San Diego changes Jase and Carey’s lives forever when their relationship takes an unexpected turn. Jase has been longing for that change, but it leaves Carey reeling with confusion. As Jase fights to hold things together, Carey deals with doubts, fears, and his own preconceived notions about labels and the true nature of love.
I really liked this. It had a bunch of my favorite things….friends to lovers, hurt/comfort and some fantastic dirty talking.  The story mostly takes places in the present but there are some flashbacks to their time in Afghanistan.  When the story begins they’ve been through a lot and have not visited each other in awhile although they talk on the phone frequently.  What is supposed to be an average visit turns in to them becoming physical with each other.  While Jase has known for a long time that he loves Carey, Carey identifies as straight and has never thought about crossing from friends to lovers.
As the story goes on Carey admits that he cares deeply for Jase but he really struggles with what it would mean for his life should he begin to identify as bisexual or gay.  I think this part of the story was really well done and I felt it was a very realistic situation.  They have a great foundation of friendship and they’re the rocks in each other’s lives.  It makes sense that it would turn into a physical one.
I especially liked how well these two communicated with each other. There were some bumps in the road but they were open and honest about it. I wish we’d see that more in stories.  I can’t imagine you could make such big changes in your life without having some things to think through and I loved how they talked about this every step of the way.
This book was narrated by Robert Nieman and I thought he did a great job.  He did a good job on both of the MC’s as well as the side characters. He happens to be one of my favorite narrators in this genre so I was pleased to see he was doing this book.  
This was my first time reading this author and I’m looking forward to reading more by her.  I plan to move on to the other books in this series as soon as possible.  I also loved the narration and if you enjoy audiobooks then I definitely recommend this media.
Cover art by Natasha Snow Designs works perfectly for the story and characters.
Sales Links
Audiobook Details:
Audiobook
Published January 12th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press (first published March 13th 2015)
ASINB01N20ODJP
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesResilient Love #1

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: Open Road by M.J. O’Shea and Robbie D (Narrator)

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Rating: 1 star for the audiobook and 4.5 stars for the e-book—overall 4 stars

open-road-audiobookI was asked to review the audiobook edition of this story, but I have to say up front that I had to DNF it within the first hour. I couldn’t stand the voices the narrator was using. They were so over-the-top flamboyant and campy that I felt they were insulting to my friends who are gay. They fed a stereotype that I oppose using. So, the narration didn’t deserve more than one star.

That being said, I’ve enjoyed MJ O’Shea’s work in the past, and the premise of this story was intriguing so I went to the e-book copy I had previously purchased and was unread in my “TBR library,” and I’m so glad I did because this story was a wonderful love story between two men who’ve been friends all their lives, and slowly but surely, become lovers over the course of their “road trip” together.

On his thirtieth birthday, Angus is dumped by his lover of ten years, and it sets him off on a bender that becomes so bad he loses both his job and his apartment. It isn’t until he finally checks on him that his BFF, Reece, takes matters into his own hands. Feeling guilty because he should have realized silence from Angus signaled something was very wrong, Reece not only makes plans to move Angus in with him, he also makes the arrangements to take Angus away for a few days.

The thin, wan ghostly appearance of his BFF is shocking enough, but add to that the fact that the usually bright and bubbly Angus isn’t even speaking, and Reece knows he’ll need all the patience in the world to help the man he secretly loves back to his former state. Reece would do anything for Angus, and this story shows just how much he does. It also reveals the journey Angus has to make to come back from the depths of despair. Deciding to extend their initial trip from Oregon to California by a few more days, the two men head to Vegas. Another extension takes them to New Orleans, and so it goes as they make their way across country.

Angus is living on his savings from his former job, but Reece is a book editor and is financing most of the trip as well as working remotely on his laptop once in a while. And this is the only quirk I had with the story. I’m an editor, and to be honest, in my experience, editors don’t earn enough to make it across the state—never mind the country! LOL

Regardless, the story is so wonderful that I can be kind and overlook that little issue. These men are so endearing—Reece so strong and supportive and Angus so sweet and adorable. It’s a match made in heaven—or by a romance author. If you are interested in friends-to-lovers romances, or simply enjoy a sweet MM romance, by all means, pick this up. Just make sure you do it in e-book, not audio.
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The cover art by L.C. Chase depicts a road fading into the distance with a muscular man in sleeveless T-shirt staring off toward the end. Very appropriate for this story.

Sales Links

eBook & Audiobook Details:

ebook, 200 pages
Published July 25th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
Original TitleOpen Road
ISBN 1634773160 (ISBN13: 9781634773164)
Edition LanguageEnglish

Audiobook
Published January 11th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press (first published July 25th 2016)
Original TitleOpen Road
ASINB01N9PWGM

URL

An Alisa Review: Dating Ryan Alback by J.E. Birk

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

 

datingryanalback_500x750Ryan Alback has almost everything he’s ever wanted: a successful acting career, a dog who adores him, great family and friends, and a life outside the closet. The only thing missing is a boyfriend—but Ryan’s been burned by Hollywood relationships before, and he’s not eager to try one again.

 

Jason Santos has almost everything he’s ever wanted: a fulfilling career teaching middle school, a house in a city he loves, and parents who support him in every way. Too bad he can’t seem to forget the ex-boyfriend who rejected his marriage proposal.

 

When a talk show host launches a dating contest to find Ryan a boyfriend and Jason accidentally wins, neither of them expect anything to come from it. Yet somewhere between a disastrous massage and a mud sinkhole, they both start to wonder if this date could be more than just a public relations stunt. But before they can move into the future, they’ll both have to learn to let go of the past.

 

I enjoyed this story quite a bit.  Ryan was hurt by a previous lover and since hasn’t looked for love again and spends his life with a few friends and his dog.  Jason has spent the last year trying to get a nonprofit off the ground and ignoring his personal life.

 

Both of these characters have others who want them happy and look out for them.  How putting someone in a national dating contest without their permission can be a good idea I don’t understand.  I will admit that it is very unlikely that Ryan and Jason would have met otherwise but that someone thought this was the way to do it is beyond me.

 

We get to see both of these characters’ thoughts and feelings through their own points of view.  Ryan is so scared of trusting anyone and letting someone in he lives alone with only his dog for company most of the time.  Seeing him hurt himself by pushing others away is quite sad, he has to learn to that not everyone wants to use him.  Jason pretty much hides behind his job and nonprofit to avoid getting hurt again in his personal life.  I hated seeing him be hurt when Ryanmakes assumptions based on past experience.  Both of them have to learn to trust, but it takes both of them making mistakes before it can happen.

 

Cover art by LC Chase is adorable and we get a nice visual of the characters.

 

Sales Links: Riptide Publishing | Amazon | B&N

 

Book Details:

ebook, 250 pages

Published: February 20, 2017 by Riptide Publishing

ISBN: 9781626495364

Edition Language: English

Need a New Romance in Your Life? Check out Rushing Love (States of Love) by Meg Bawden (author interview, guest post and giveaway)

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Rushing Love (States of Love) by Meg Bawden
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reamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | B&N

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Meg Bawden here today talking about her latest release in the States of Love series from Dreamspinner Press, Rushing Love. Welcome, Meg!

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Hello, hello! My name is Meg Bawden and I’m on Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words to celebrate the release of my new book, Rushing Love, which comes out today! Woot!

Rushing Love is a M/M romance story set in South Dakota, USA. I wrote it for the States of Love line from Dreamspinner Press and I can’t wait for its release. I had so much fun writing it and I can’t wait to share it with you. Please allow me to share the blurb with you:

After a devastating break-up with the man he thought he’d spend his life with, Flynn Webb takes a holiday to a South Dakota dude ranch. It’s something completely different from anything he’s done before, and it helps that it’s as far away from his ex as possible. Trapped in his own depressive thoughts, Flynn is surprised to meet Grayson Harland. Not only is Grayson a sexy cowboy—one fifteen years younger—but he’s the most charming man Flynn has ever met.

 

Flynn doesn’t have much experience with being seduced, and he has even less with guys like Grayson taking an interest in him—and Grayson is definitely interested. What begins as a fling while visiting iconic South Dakota sights soon develops the potential for much more. But Flynn is afraid that falling in love again so soon—and with a man so much younger—will lead only to another catastrophic heartbreak. Luckily for them both, Grayson isn’t giving up without a fight.

If you’re interested you can find the story here:

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/rushing-love-by-meg-bawden-8176-b

https://www.amazon.com/Rushing-Love-States-Book-ebook/dp/B01N17O3X6

To celebrate the release, I’m going to be answer some interview questions! 😀

~*~*~*

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview Questions

How much of yourself goes into a character?

I think each character has a part of the author within them. Whether it be an actual trait, the way they speak, the way they dress, or even a personality trait that the author wishes they had. For me, I’d love to be as confident as Grayson. While I am not, I made him that way because it’s something I don’t have and would love to. Whereas, my character Flynn, has my shyness and my lack of confidence. While I don’t share a similar history to Flynn, I did give him these traits because I wanted them to be a result from his past.  I think all characters, like humans in real life, are who they are because of what they’ve been through to get to that point in their life.

Do you feel there’s a tight line between Mary Sue or should I say Gary Stu and using your own experiences to create a character?

I definitely think there is a fine line between a Gary Stu and a character that’s real. It’s very difficult, as a writer, when you create a character because it is only natural to want everything to be perfect for them. When I write, I’m dreaming of a world where everything works out just fine. I’m dreaming of a world that I would love to be a part of. And because these characters are an extension of me, I’d love them to be perfect and happy. But let’s be honest, everyone wants perfection, right? You want to be that right weight or have perfect skin or beautiful hair. You want to be charitable, but rich, and very intelligent.

As an author, we have to remember that if we want readers to relate to our characters, they can’t be perfect. Perfect is boring. Readers want to see a happy-ever-after for characters that are like them. So, I give my boys and girls a quirk to make them not perfect. For Flynn, he’s shy and has a lack of confidence. He has type 1 diabetes and he’s a bit awkward at times. He’s always must thoroughly think about things before he does it and he hates that about himself.

And for Grayson, while he’s handsome and muscular, with the looks of a perfect specimen, he’s not perfect either. He has no filter and that annoys himself sometimes. He says things without thinking, the opposite of Flynn. He doesn’t watch TV (*Gasp* No TV? What kind of human being is he??? How can he and Flynn Netflix and chill??) and doesn’t understand some references that Flynn mentions.

So yes, they both have negatives and these realistic traits come from understanding people around you. As I began to write this story, these characters told me their negatives. They shared what they hated about themselves and I revelled in it. Putting certain aspects about a character into the story makes it more interesting. And I had fun with them! 🙂

Does research play a role into choosing which genre you write?  Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your worlds and cultures?

Yes and No. I write in many different genres and I usually like writing science fiction or paranormal because I can make up worlds and I already know a lot about the beings that are in that world. However, I do occasionally stick with contemporary, wherein depending on where the story is set, I do have to do some research. For Rushing Love, I definitely did research. I’ve never been to South Dakota, so I used friends’ knowledge, as well as watched youtube videos and researched on google.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

I prefer a happy ever after, mostly because I’m a big old romantic and I like knowing that they spend the rest of their lives together. I’ve had plenty of good relationship role models in my life, from my nan and pop, to my mum and dad, and all I ever see in my stories is the love that lasts a lifetime.

How do you feel about the ebook format and where do you see it going?

I think there are positives and negatives to eBook format. While it’s inexpensive, thus allowing readers to buy and store more books, it also enables pirates to steal and share an author’s work. As it is, authors don’t get very much money and these pirates threaten their livelihood. But saying that, pirates would probably have never bought the book in paperback anyway. I think paperback still has buyers though, because there is something magical about holding a book in your hands, especially one of your favourites. So I believe eBooks and paperbacks can co-exist.

How do you choose your covers?  (curious on my part)

As a cover artist myself, I usually have an idea of what I want in my head. But at the same time, I don’t want to impede on an artist’s work, so I usually give the cover designer general pictures that I’m interested in, like characters and locations, and I let them run with their creative flow. And quite often, they’re right on the money. 🙂

Do you have a favorite among your own stories?  And why?

I think it’s hard for me to choose a favourite. I don’t have very many published works yet and I think they are all a favourite to me. Each story is a part of the author, so each one is special to them. And there is always something I wished I could change after the story is published. Lol. But they are perfect the way they are because that is what you wrote—what you wanted to say.

What’s next for you as an author?

So many things! Lol. I have so many works I want to finish, but at the moment, my priority is my Zombieville #2. I’m having enough zombie dreams to encourage me to finish it. I want to finish the series by the end of this year. As well as that, I’m working on a M/F story that I’m also hoping to finish soon, as well as plenty of others. As for attending events, I will be at Riveting Reads, which is held in Brisbane, Australia in October 😀

~*~*~*

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About the Author

If you’d like to follow me and find out more about upcoming releases, you can find me here:

FB: https://www.facebook.com/authormegbawden/

Twitter: @megbawden

MEG BAWDEN was born and raised in North Queensland, Australia. She’s loved stories since before she can remember and has always enjoyed creating characters of her own, even if it did begin with drawing faces on toilet rolls and giving them names. Writing has always been a passion of hers and she’s loved the M/M genre since 2004, the first book she read being Rainbow Boys by Alex Sanchez.

Writing M/M since 2007, Meg has never had the confidence to attempt publishing her own stories, but in 2015, she decided that it was all about to change thanks to the amazing friends she’s made in the M/M genre and their support and encouragement. So watch out world, Meg Bawden is coming out to have some fun!

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Giveaway

Are you interested in winning some signed paperbacks from me? Then now is your chance:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

In the Spotlight: Dating Ryan Alback by J.E. Birk (RIPTIDE BLOG TOUR and giveaway)

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Dating Ryan Alback by J.E. Birk
R
iptide Publishing
Cover art by L.C. Chase

Read an Excerpt/Buy it here at Riptide Publishing

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host J.E. Bird today. Welcome, J.E.!

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Greetings! I’m J.E. Birk, and right now I’m traversing the internets to discuss my new romantic comedy, DATING RYAN ALBACK. Follow along to learn more about an insecure movie star, a klutzy teacher, and the neurotic dog who loves them. Leave comments for a chance to win a $10 Riptide giftcard and copy of any book from my backlist! 

About Dating Ryan Alback

Ryan Alback has almost everything he’s ever wanted: a successful acting career, a dog who adores him, great family and friends, and a life outside the closet. The only thing missing is a boyfriend—but Ryan’s been burned by Hollywood relationships before, and he’s not eager to try one again. 

Jason Santos has almost everything he’s ever wanted: a fulfilling career teaching middle school, a house in a city he loves, and parents who support him in every way. Too bad he can’t seem to forget the ex-boyfriend who rejected his marriage proposal.

When a talk show host launches a dating contest to find Ryan a boyfriend and Jason accidentally wins, neither of them expect anything to come from it. Yet somewhere between a disastrous massage and a mud sinkhole, they both start to wonder if this date could be more than just a public relations stunt. But before they can move into the future, they’ll both have to learn to let go of the past. 

Now available from Riptide Publishing. http://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/dating-ryan-alback

About J.E. Birk

J.E. Birk has been telling stories since she could talk and writing them since she was introduced to the alphabet. She hails from Colorado, where you can usually find her skiing, training for a 5K she won’t end up running, or watching people run into each other on football fields and in hockey rinks. You can follow her ramblings on Twitter by looking for @jebirkwrites. She’s also been known to ramble on Facebook as J Elisabeth Birk.

Connect with J.E. Birk:

datingryanalback_tourbanner

Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Dating Ryan Alback, one lucky winner will receive a $10 Riptide Publishing credit and their choice of ebook from J.E.’s backlist! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on February 25, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

Join Us for the Release Day Blitz for Justin’s Season by S. M. Sawyer (excerpt)

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Title:  Justin’s Season

Author: S. M. Sawyer

Publisher: Ninestar Press

Release Date: August 6, 2016 (print), February 29, 2016 (e-book)

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 101,300 words

Genre: New Adult, historical fiction, redemption, destiny, acceptance, sports, coming out, interconnected, small town, flashback, AIDS

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

The year is 1988, and Justin Davis, a former nationally recruited football prep star, awakens from twelve years of masking his shame with drugs and alcohol to find he has been returned to his former self through what can only be described as a miracle.
Triggered by the confirmation of his closely guarded sexual orientation, his fall from grace of over a decade before sets the stage for his redemption. The fulfillment of his destiny is prompted by Providence and the serendipitous deeds of those who are a part of his new life, as their intertwined lives are likewise impacted. Though his rapid evolvement and acceptance of his homosexuality is countered by setbacks, Justin perseveres and eventually triumphs as fate, he believes, has led him back to the sports arena to recapture past glories.
In a stunning finale, however, he learns his destiny is not what he had envisioned. His calling has been thrust upon him by circumstances beyond his control. Can Justin embrace it and become the man he was always meant to be?

Excerpt

A sliver of light from the early morning sun came through an exposed slit of the basement window blind, creeping its way against the wall until it came to rest upon Justin’s eyes. He lay sleeping in a jumbled mass of musty blankets on an old steel-framed bed. After a few moments of the sun’s focused rays beckoning him to awaken, he flinched and turned his head away, and then rolled onto his left side toward a dark corner in a vain attempt to deny the day’s arrival.

For Justin, it had been another long night, and the reminder of a new day came with a reluctant anticipation akin to that of a prisoner serving a life sentence without a chance for parole. He lay there motionless, holding the sheets close to his chin as he gazed upon an iconic black-and-white poster of James Dean. The actor walked down a puddled street with a cigarette between his lips, hands in his coat pockets, and his collar turned up to keep the cold and drizzle at bay. Marching down the Boulevard of Broken Dreams and into immortality.

Though it had been hanging on the wall for fifteen years, Justin, enjoying a rare and lucid moment of circumspection, studied the poster in silence as if he were looking at it for the first time. You did it right, Mr. Dean, he thought. You died early…frozen in time. Leaving everyone wanting more. Never having to answer for life’s failings.

The unwelcome light from the sun continued to fill the room, exposing the remnants of Justin’s life before the troubles. Dusty citations, press clippings, photographs, scholarship offer letters, and trophies from his high school years. Collected over a decade before, they now served as the remaining threads that connected to past glories.

This is what happens, isn’t it? You peak early and get a little cocky that you’re in control, and instead of leaving on top, you live long enough to mutate into some bad apple that people use to warn their kids. “Don’t get too full of yourself or you’ll turn out like Justin Davis.” That’s right…I’m not remembered for what I was and what I should have been. It’s easier for voyeurs to whisper among themselves about the broken, washed-up, slow-motion train wreck I’ve become—how I let my charmed life slip away.

Justin sat up and swung his legs over as if getting out of bed, but stayed sitting there to give his head time to clear from another all-night bender and to gain a semblance of balance before stepping onto the cold cement floor. His still imposing six-foot-four-inch body, an inch taller than in his high school days, was out of shape and bloated. It served as a metaphor for everything else his life had become, contrary to the Greek god physique he’d had when he was seemingly in total charge of his life and circumstances.

His blond hair was long and greasy, and his face contorted by the miseries of daily self-flagellation through alcohol, drugs, and slovenly habits. His tongue felt thick and dry, and his eyes appeared as if seared on an iron skillet. He did his best to gather whatever strength remained to get up and to live what had become his own recurring Groundhog Day. He wanted water to quench his alcohol-induced thirst and to be bathed by a sympathetic and nonjudgmental geisha, washing away impurities and regret. But again he thought of sleep and of beckoning the dreams to reacquaint him with his previous life. He eased his head onto the pillow with hopes that sleep would allow him to wander back to his senior year in high school—to a time when he was admired by all and treated as the town’s favorite son.

Justin Davis was the class hero and the most likely to succeed. He had excelled at everything—sports, scholastics, popularity—and as the top quarterback recruit in the nation he received offers from scores of college football powerhouses representing the Big Ten and other major conferences. Why then, he continually asked himself, had he let his guard down—putting everything on the line and seeking confirmation from strangers?

Throughout his life he had felt that guardian angels were with him, but they’d abandoned him when he needed them most, so they could steward over someone more deserving…someone who wouldn’t risk all for a taste of what he had been brought up to consider the forbidden fruit. He couldn’t explain it, but life’s confusions made him feel that he no longer fit the role his angels had paved for him. That maybe he’d had a hand in sabotaging it before it went too far; a secret he kept hidden from himself and others with the aid of any mind-numbing substance he could get his hands on.

With his room in the basement of his brother’s home now bathed in full light, Justin drifted back to sleep, and from his sleep he could hear the marching band and cheers from the packed stadium as he led his team, charging onto the field through the gauntlet of cheerleaders. In reliving the moment, he managed a slight smile as his dreams took him back twelve years to the fall of 1976 and the sound of the PA system announcing the starting teams for the state of Ohio’s high school football championship game.

And as the dreams continued and the light of the sun streamed through the basement’s walk-out French door and remaining windows, Justin subconsciously felt a strange and unique sensation upon his dormant soul. The feeling of his angels returning to envelop his body like fresh snow on a blemished landscape—lovingly transforming his unkempt and damaged being. They had come to caress and heal his body and spirit, and renew his faith to trust what lay ahead.

Purchase

Ninestar Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes

Meet the Author

S. M. Sawyer is a retired military officer. He has also served as a defense contractor and as President for a nationally accredited charity whose mission is to recognize exceptional maritime rescues and assist voluntary search and rescue organizations worldwide. He lives in Virginia with his wife, Natalie. They have five grown children. Justin’s Season is his debut literary effort.

Find S.M. on Facebook or send him an eMail

 

 

 

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