A Jeri Review: After the Fire (Through Hell and Back #2) by Felice Stevens

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Wow. I knew my heart would break even more for Jordan, but I didn’t think it would be that heart breaking. After he fiancé died (in book 1) Jordan is despondent. He blows off his friends, does minimal for his job and completely ignores his volunteer work. He is waiting to die of a broken heart.

It takes a letter threatening to remove him from the foundation his fiancé began for him to get out of the house. He is ready for a fight, but not for Lucas.

Felice Stevens writes such convincingly real characters. With real flaws, real lives and jobs and friends. All of those things are part of her stories and they make you really care for the characters. You can feel Lucas’ pain. You can feel Jordan’s heartbreak.

The characters from book one play a major part in this book, but at the same time they don’t detract at all from the story of Lucas and Jordan- they only enhance it. If you are lucky enough to have friends like them, you are lucky enough indeed.

Lucas and Jordan have a slow burn smoldering heat. So much denial from both of them- but it is completely warranted. I can get annoyed with the ploy of a main character putting up emotional walls because of something in their past. But not here. Because even though those walls were there, they were well founded.

And even after the walls started crumbling, it wasn’t insta love. It grew slowly between the two of them. So beautifully done.

A lot happens in this book- and yet nothing seemed gratuitous or like page filler. And now I am practically salivating for book three!

Cover art is lovely and works for the story and characters.

Sales Links  Amazon Kindle

Book Details:

245 pages
Published January 2017 (first published February 23rd 2015)
Original TitleAfter the Fire
SeriesThrough Hell and Back #2

A VVivacious Release Day Review: Shaper by Christine Danse

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Rating: 5 Stars out of 5
 
I woke up running through the abandoned streets of Shapertown. I didn’t know who I was, where I had come from or even who I was running from. It was like I had come into this world running with the nebulous command of “Run” ringing through my brain. I hid myself only to be found by a pair of brown boots with red laces and I didn’t know if I should run or not. After all, where do you run when you have nowhere to go?
 
This book is Wow! It tells the story of a planet at the centre of the universe where reality itself is in a constant flux. In this world exist a group of people know as Shapers that can change the very matrix of reality with their thoughts. They are varied, each with specific abilities and the government seeks to control them leading to a rebellion and it is in these dangerous times that our story begins.
 
I loved the premise of this story. It is like the perfect mix of plausible married to boundless imagination and the story is beautifully written. I loved our main character for someone who has no idea who she is she is very balanced individual and I found myself engrossed in her story from the very beginning.
 
This book is a story first and foremost and that is the deepest compliment I can give it. This story is amazing. Some stories really amaze me with the extent of imagination and this was one of them. I am truly mystified by the planet of Mi’hani and the life that exists on it. I am very hopeful for the books that are to follow in this series because if the first book is any indication this is going to be one hell of a ride.
 
Our second main character is Natalia who is lethal in every way. I mean she has some mad skills but for once it was refreshing to meet an assassin, a killer who wasn’t jaded who felt the burden of the path she has led but tried to keep living with it instead of arresting her emotions, while still being a bloody fantastic person to read about. I loved the character of Natalia and I am very excited to see where her relationship with Lark is going to go.
 
This story is a gateway to a bigger picture and I can’t wait for the books that will enlighten that path.
 
Cover Art by Natasha Snow. I loved the colour especially its mix of the shades of blue and green that seem to sum up the universe. All in all it is a fabulous cover.
Sales Links
Book Details:
ebook, 45 pages
Expected publication: March 13th 2017 by NineStar Press
ISBN139781945952715
Edition LanguageEnglish

An Ali Release Day Review: Darkness (Common Law book 3) by Kate Sherwood

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
A murdered prostitute. An obvious suspect. Clear evidence. For once, Jericho Crewe has a straightforward crime to investigate, and Wade Granger isn’t involved.

It all seems so simple, but Jericho’s instincts won’t let him rest. As he investigates, he finds troubling suggestions that the murder is a part of something larger and more sinister. But working within the boundaries of the law may keep him from finding the truth. If Jericho doesn’t break the rules, an innocent man may rot in jail while a killer remains free to strike again.

Inevitably, it all comes back to Wade. Because who else knows as much about breaking rules? And who else knows Jericho the way Wade does—not wisely, but far, far too well?
This book picks up a month or so down the road. Jericho is doing is his best to avoid Wade and he’s continuing to work as an under-sheriff for the town. He’s gets a call on a murdered prostitute and while the case and the bad guy seem cut and dried, Jericho thinks something’s not right. He ends up looking into it in more detail and opens up a more complex case than he initially realized.

Of course along the way he runs into Wade again. These two can’t seem to stay apart. They’re like moths to a flame with each other. The UST between them is off the charts as usual but as this story goes along Jericho decides he’s done fighting it. He doesn’t care what Wade does for a living. He wants him and he knows they’re going to end up together. This leads me to my one complaint with this book. When they finally get together it fades to black. Now I don’t usually complain about that. I’m not they type of romance reader who has to have sex scenes in all her books and in fact many of my favorite series are ones filled with fade to black. I just really hated it in this series because the UST has been off the charts and such a major part of the story. I feel like we were waiting for this really great thing and then it was snatched away before we could enjoy it. *boo, hiss*

I have gone back and forth in this series trying to decide if Wade really is a criminal or if he’s working deep undercover for a law enforcement agency. I’m happy to say I still don’t know. The author has done a great job keeping the air of mystery around Wade and even at the end of the this book I still am not sure how this series is going to end for these two.
Cover by: Natasha Snow I love the cover.  I have loved the covers in this series actually but this is my favorite of them due to the color.
Sales Links
Book Details:
ebook, 189 pages
Published March 6th 2017 by Riptide Publishing
ISBN 1626495319 (ISBN13: 9781626495319)
SeriesCommon Law #3

In Our New Release Spotlight: Love in the Time of Hurricanes (States of Love) by C.C. Bridges (guest post, interview and excerpt)

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Love in the Time of Hurricanes (States of Love)

by C.C. Bridges
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reamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht

Buy Links:

           

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have C.C. Bridges here today talking about Dreamspinner Press’ latest story in their States of Love series, Love in the Time of Hurricanes.  Welcome, C.C.!

✒︎

Today is the release day for Love in the Time of Hurricanes! In a lot of ways, this story was a very personal one for me to write. But today, I’m going to talk about my main characters: Lou and Nick.

I don’t typically put a lot of myself in my characters. They often show up in my head, fully-formed, with personalities of their own (See: Hank Abraham in Exodus, for example!) https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/exodus-by-cc-bridges-4242-b

But this book is different. There’s so much more of me in here. There’s a little bit of me in each of the main characters.

Nick has my anxiety. He can’t stand up to his father, and he’s unsure of what he even wants. All of that spirals together into a knot of anxiety inside him, and the hurricane only makes things worse.

Lou, like me, comes from a big Italian family. He loves to cook his family recipes, and play with some non-traditional recipes too. He pulls Nick into his world of pizza, marinara, and skeeball, and changes his life.

Just how does he do it? You’ll have to read and see.

Blurb

The night Nick Henderson storms into Martelli’s Pizzeria, he’s just looking for something to eat. Along with dinner, he finds Lou Martelli—pizza cook extraordinaire and Jersey Shore native. Nick is renting a Shore house for the winter while taking classes at the local community college as he devises a way to escape the accounting major his father chose for him.

When Lou offers to show Nick around, heat flares between them as they realize they have more in common than domineering families. But it’s not all fun and games on the boardwalk. Hurricane Sandy blows ashore, changing the place Nick was starting to think of as home. His peace is shattered, and it will take everything he has to keep his relationship with Lou from being torn apart by the storm brewing around them.

States of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the United States.

Excerpt

When I spotted a pizza place with the lights still on, I took a chance and pulled into the empty parking lot. That should have been a clue.

I pushed open the door, the sudden warm air a relief from the cooler September night. A bell jangled loudly and cut into the music playing from a stereo propped on the counter. I blinked at the sudden brightness after the darkness outside. Springsteen sang to an empty room, not a single person filling the booths with polished red leather seats that lined the wall. I noted the black-and-white checkered floors, a mural of the leaning tower of Pisa on the wall—yeah, like a million pizza joints I knew.

And then he walked into the room, wielding a broom and dustpan and looking good enough to eat.

“Sorry, man, I’m about to close up.”

It took me a minute to find my voice. He had dark hair that curled around his ears, sleepy bedroom eyes, and a wicked grin beneath a noble-looking nose. His shoulders filled out a green T-shirt that had Martelli’s written across it in golden letters. Apparently he got a workout from rolling pizza, because those arms were solid muscle.

But I couldn’t draw my eyes away from the bit of scruff on his cheeks. More than a five-o’clock shadow, it was the kind of almost beard that begged to be licked.

“Um, sorry. Do you have anything left over?” To make me sound even more pathetic, right then my stomach chose to gurgle. It wasn’t anything like a manly growl—it was a tiny twisted gurgle.

The guy with the broom laughed. Fuck, were those dimples? I thought he was lickable before.

“Tell you what. Take a seat at the counter.”

I’d missed the barstools lined up along the counter during my first glance. Instead of display containers with stale pizza, there were napkin holders and glass shakers of pepper flakes and garlic powder. I sat carefully, and I say carefully, because the guy turned his back in order to flip the sign on the door to Closed, and I got a really nice view. Those tight jeans framed that ass spectacularly.

He turned, and I swear he caught me staring. Shit.

About the Author

CC Bridges is a mild-mannered librarian by day, but by night she writes about worlds of adventure and romance. When she’s not busy solving puzzles in an escape room, she can be found diving into comics or binge-watching superhero movies. She writes surrounded by books, spare computing equipment, a fluffy dog, and a long-suffering husband in the state of New Jersey. In 2011, she won a Rainbow Award for best gay sci-fi/futuristic novel.

Social Media Links

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ccbridgeswriter

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ccbridgeswriter

Blog: http://blog.ccbridges.net/

Website: http://www.ccbridges.net

Marek Moran on Writing, Research and his first novel ‘The Sparky’ by Marek Moran (guest blog and excerpt)

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The Sparky by Marek Moran
D
reamspinner Press

Cover Artist: Catt Ford

Some Questions

Hello, Reader!  I’m here because my first novel, The Sparky, has just come out, and the kind people at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words have let me give you a bit of idea about what it’s like via some questions they’ve posed.

How much of yourself goes into a character?

As this is my first novel, it’s only one data point so far.  But, as I imagine is pretty typical for first novels, the answer would be “quite a bit”.  There were a couple of times in the editing process where the editor would say “Would your characters really do X?”, and my answer was that that was something that had actually happened in my own 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’ve always thought that something that makes for a full Mary Sue or Gary Stu is that (in Wikipedia’s words) they’re “an idealized and seemingly perfect fictional character” in addition to being an author surrogate.  The experiences of my own that I use to create a character certainly aren’t only the positive, glowing ones!  Among other things, I think my essential nerdiness comes through pretty strongly.  (You’ll see this in the excerpt.)

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

Probably research—in my day job I am an academic, after all.  I can spend days going down the rabbit hole of links and citations and references.  But as a kid I read a lot of fantasy and science fiction, and I enjoyed making up worlds and cultures in tandem with that.  Tolkien really got me imagining worlds at a fine level of detail.  But the world-creating authors I especially like do an awful lot of research to make their worlds plausible—right now I’m rereading Ursula Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness, and there’s a lot of anthropology research that went into that—so I think maybe research and making up worlds aren’t totally separate.

Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing?

Not really.  Or maybe the answer is, Not yet.  As I mentioned, I mostly used to read fantasy and sci-fi (and still read it now, although my book diet is more balanced), but I also used to read some romance—I’d borrow the latest Mills and Boon from one of my (female) friends, although I wouldn’t tell my other friends about it, it not being the conventional teenage boy thing.  So I’m not sure why I ended up writing contemporary romance, except that it’s obviously more natural to write out of real life experience, and I’ve had more relationships with guys than with elves or aliens.  And in a sense the story had a life of its own and just wanted to be born that way.  (Cue Lady Gaga soundtrack.)

Do you read romances, as a teenager and as an adult?

I do, although I also read a lot of history, some fantasy and sci-fi, some mystery / thrillers, and what the other members of my bookclub refer to as Serious Literature.  In romance, it’s a pretty mixed bag of authors I read.  I like old work like Jane Austen, George Eliot, E. M. Forster and Georgette Heyer, but also some newer romance, both straight and gay.

What’s next for you as an author?

I am writing another novel, although it’s still in the early stages: I’ve just hit 10K words.  It’s also contemporary romance, but otherwise quite different from The Sparky.  There’s a bit of a thriller element to it, and a bit of politics as well—that’s how it is in my head and in my notes file at the moment, anyway.  Who knows how it will turn out …

Blurb

Aaron’s been living in what his friend Howie calls a sexual desert. But an oasis appears on the horizon when Paul, a divorced electrician with a five-year-old daughter named Sam, moves in next door. He’s a country boy from northern Australia, and although he’s never been with a guy before, he has an impression that anything goes in the city. They find that the ordinary things in life—books, footie in the park, looking after Sam—lead them into an unlikely relationship.

But as their relationship slowly deepens, with Aaron spending time on Paul’s family’s cattle station, it becomes clear that Paul might have a harder time leaving the country behind. To him, happiness means a conventional life—including a mother for Sam. Being with his old friends convinces him he’s on the wrong path with Aaron, and he starts a relationship with a girl from his hometown. If he cannot find the courage to go after what he truly needs, he and Aaron will become nothing more than awkward neighbours. 

Purchase The Sparky at

Amazon | Dreamspinner

Excerpt

[BACKGROUND: Noone knows Aaron and Paul are going out.  At this point in the novel, Aaron’s visiting his sister Deelie just before Christmas, playing paintball with her and her friends.  It’s one of those occasions when he’d really like to talk about Paul, but can’t.]

After that we go through the training and the warnings about face masks, goggles, neck and throat protection, dangerous shots, dangerous behaviour. Even as I’m walking out onto the ground, I’m not sure how I’ll bring myself to shoot teenage girls. Then I think about Mean Girls—that’ll help me see them as vicious threats. I manage to shoot one crouching in a wooden fort, and then another inexpertly hidden behind a tree, but then I’m hit. Deelie survives until the end.

As I drive us home in a rental car, I look over at her. She has a bruise forming on her right arm. I don’t know what from. “Heh, warrior princess.”

“You don’t still watch that, do you?”

“Maybe. There’s a kid next door up in Sydney and I’ve watched some episodes with her.”

I can’t talk about Paul with anyone, although sometimes it wants to bubble up out of me; this is the next best thing. Just touching on it, skirting the edges of it without actually giving anything away.

“Oh my God.”

“She’s pretty fierce, this kid.”

Last week on a visit through the back gate, Sam told me what she’d been up to at vacation care. As well as doing craft and going on an excursion to the park, she updated me on her playground relationships.

“Finn’s my frenemy,” she told me.

I wasn’t even aware that five-year-olds knew the word “frenemy.”

“Do you know what a frenemy is?”

“Someone who’s kind of a friend and kind of an enemy.”

So apparently they do know.

“Why are you frenemies?” I asked.

“We were playing Xena, and he was a baddie, and when I kicked him by accident, he hit me back on purpose.”

“Did you say sorry?”

“It was an accident.”

“You should still say sorry, though. Xena would if it was an accident.” That’s probably not in the canon, but I’m happy to make this up.

“Okay.”

I tell Deelie a bit more about Sam as I’m driving.

About the Author

Marek Moran is, in his day job, a computer science professor.  If you want to know about shortest path graph algorithms, he’s your man.  However, that’s probably not why you’re reading this.  He currently lives in Sydney, Australia, and has previously lived in France, Germany and the US, enjoying travelling around and listening to people talk: he’s learnt to respond to enquiries after his wellbeing with a ça va merci, sehr gut danke or copacetic, thanks.

The only member of his book club to like George Eliot’s Mill on the Floss, he’s discovered that he enjoys writing romance as well as reading it; the other members of his book club don’t yet know this.  He plays piano, squash, and his cards close to his chest.  The Sparky is his first novel.

Author Links

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