A Julia Review: Ardulum: Second Don (Ardulum #2) by J. S. Fields

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

The Charted Systems are in pieces. Mercy’s Pledge is destroyed, and her captain dead. With no homes to return to, the remaining crew sets off on a journey to find the mythical planet of Ardulum—a planet where Emn might find her people, and Neek the answers she’s long sought. Finding the planet, however, brings a host of uncomfortable truths about Ardulum’s vision for the galaxy and Neek’s role in a religion that refuses to release her. Neek must balance her planet’s past and the unchecked power of the Ardulans with a budding relationship and a surprising revelation about her own genealogy.

Ardulum: Second Don blends space opera elements and hard science into a story about two women persistently bound to their past and a sentient planet determined to shape their future.

Ardulum: Second Don by J. S. Fields is the second book in the Ardulum-series of sci-fi novels. After reviewing the first one, I was curious to see how Neek’s and Emn’s journey would continue.

Just like with the first novel the worldbuilding is very impressive. There is a great variety of different alien species each with their own unique cultural and societal customs, technologies, appearances and ways of communication. Humans in general take a rather backseat role in this one with the plethora of other species able to shine, which I greatly appreciated. Though I’m usually not an avid reader of sci-fi, I could tell that the author put a great deal of work into constructing alien technologies and abilities that seemed plausible and followed clearly defined rules. I also enjoyed the use of gender-neutral pronouns in the case of species that were either officially gender-neutral or separated gender into three different categories.

From the start, I became a fan of Emn and how her character was developing throughout the story. I loved witnessing her maturing into a brave and determined young woman. However, I found that Neek’s character fell a bit short in comparison to Emn’s and was a bit of a step down from the first novel. She had just seemed somewhat more adamant before and at times her motives or line of reasoning would confuse me a bit. The same goes for Nicholas. I wished his own personal motives, troubles and opinions would have come through more. For the most part he felt like the nice guy who was coming along just for the heck of it.

I also had a bit of a problem with the way Neek’s and Emn’s relationship was unfolding. Though they were both clearly attracted to one another, Neek was rather hesitant about dealing with her feelings and openly acknowledging them in front of Emn for quite a while. She claimed that she did not know how to behave towards Emn because of her people worshipping Ardulans like Emn as gods. That just seemed a bit too out of character for me considering Neek’s attitude and behaviour from the first book. Now I don’t mind a slow build up towards a romantic relationship at all. However, I’m not a big fan of “delaying the inevitable”, so to speak, once it comes to the point where the mutual attraction between two characters is obvious not only to the readers but to the characters themselves. On the other hand, I did very much appreciate how open and direct Emn was from the start concerning her interest in Neek – it greatly added to her character for me.

Like in the previous entry, the point of view changes quite a bit between a handful of characters. I rather liked some of the new ones who got introduced like Arik.

All in all, I enjoyed the book though it didn’t capture my interest quite in the same way the first one did. I would definitely recommend this series to fans of sci-fi and space adventures since there is a lot of detailed worldbuilding to be appreciated. Readers looking for some hot, romantic action might want to look elsewhere though.

The cover by Natasha Snow is pretty to look at and the colours certainly pop. However, it strikes me as a bit generic and bland. I’d have preferred it if it featured a more direct connection to the story or art of a particular character instead.

Sales Links:  NineStar Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 278 pages

Published October 9, 2017

by NineStar Press

ISBN: 978-1-947139-95-4

Edition Language: English

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: Smoky Mountain Dreams by Leta Blake and John Solo (Narrator)

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

It’s hard to decide where to start for this audiobook review but I feel I’d be remiss if I didn’t immediately note how beautifully John Solo narrated this story. In fact, he didn’t just narrate it—he brought it to life. The voices—both male and female—were all unique and the emotions were powerfully and poignantly portrayed. Kudos Mr. Solo! Nearly fifteen hours to this story, but it went by quickly thanks to your skillful narration.

Christopher Ryder is a sweet, young man with a beautiful voice who gave up on his dream of stardom in Nashville when it became obvious he wasn’t quite as good as the top country singers of the time. But he’s very talented and lands the job of backup to the headliner at the Smoky Mountain Dreams Amusement Park. Christopher has an interesting extended family—from his estranged mother and her Bible-beating preacher husband, to his deadbeat father, whom he hasn’t seen in years, and his terrific sister and brother-in-law, both of whom are very supportive of him, even though he’s gay. But most of all, Christopher is close to his gran, a sweet little old woman who invades his thoughts even when he’s not able to visit with her in person. She supports him 100% and has already told him her house will be his when she passes. She doesn’t care one iota that Chris came out as gay when he was younger—for her, that is no reason not to love her grandson wholeheartedly.

Because the feeling is mutual, he wants to get his gran a very special gift for the Christmas holiday this year so he approaches Jesse Birch, a talented jewelry designer. Jesse is bisexual and one look at Christopher convinces him that the country singer is not straight and that they may have some mutual fun at some point if he can find the time. He’s a full time jewelry designer and full time father to two young children in the preteen age range. His wife was permanently injured five years before in an auto accident and is now in a medically sustained coma. The only reason she hasn’t passed yet is that her sister holds an end of life document which his wife signed years before the accident. It doesn’t matter to her religious sister that she had changed her mind and that she had told Jesse she never wanted to be kept alive by machines. Though they continually battle over the issue, Jesse has yet to win the case and so life goes on in limbo for the whole family.

Now, as he and Christopher become friendly and eventually start a relationship, life is even more complicated. Jesse’s daughter seems to think her mother can come back to life and refuses to become friendly with Christopher. In fact, she believes in a story about making a thousand cranes to grant a person’s fondest wish and she’s on a quest to complete two thousand by Christmas. At first, Christopher didn’t realize Jesse’s wife was still alive, so it’s a major hurdle for him to continue a relationship with Jesse when he finds out. There are so many family issues in this story that one has to concentrate and listen carefully in order to keep everything straight and to make sure not to miss an important point.

As I said at the beginning, the audio is very long—nearly fifteen hours—so the story is highly complex, but it’s really a wonderful love story that needed every moment to build all the relationships it contains. And it doesn’t end on a perfect note with a perfect family scene, but it does end in a very satisfying manner and winds out to a beautiful Christmas season where family of origin and family of the heart hold an equal place.

I highly recommend this to all lovers of MM romance, especially slow burn, men with children, family drama, and more.


Cover art depicts a photo of two bare-chested men in a sweet loving embrace superimposed over a photo of the Smoky Mountain Range. There’s also a white paper crane in the foreground that is set up to be flying over the words in the title. All are key elements to the story and tie together to make a cohesive summary of this beautiful love story.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Audible US | Audible UK

Audiobook Details:

Listening Length: 14 hours and 46 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Leta Blake Books
Audible.com Release Date: October 17, 2017
Language: English

In Our New Release Spotlight: Hurricane (Stormy Weather #3) by B.A. Tortuga (special excerpt)

Hurricane (Stormy Weather #3) by B.A. Tortuga
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Alexandria Corza

Available for Purchase at Dreamspinner Press

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have B.A. Tortuga back today on her tour for Hurricane, the third Stormy Weather story.  Welcome, B.A.!


Hey, y’all! I’m BA Tortuga, resident redneck and lover of all things cowboy.

Hurricane is the third in the story of Galen and Shane, and I’ve included a novella set quite a few years later called Bartender Rescue. I hope you enjoy this teaser.

Hurricane, Excerpt


“I swear to God, y’all. If you don’t watch your pours, I’m going to start ripping faces off. I can’t afford to run specials if you’re pouring triples on every drink.”

Christ on a sparkly crutch, Shane had a headache. He’d spent the last four days studying the books on his latest project, trying to figure out why the busiest club of five bars was the one losing fucking money.

“But boss….”

He shook his head at Greg, his so-called manager. “Don’t. I don’t care. Fix it, y’all. Now. Or you’re all fired.”

“I’d like to see him do it perfect every time,” one of the little barbacks was muttering, and Shane saw red, right about the time Greg winced.

“Give me a bottle of Bacardi,” he snapped, one hand held out. “And four glasses.”

He poured the four shots—boom, boom, boom, boom—without even bothering to look. Each one of them perfect, right on, and he knew it. “Any questions?”

“Yes.” The newest bartender, a shrewd little redhead with bright green eyes, raised a hand. “Do you do it by count or with the bubble or what?”

“I used to count. Now I know it by heart. It’s practice. Y’all have to get, if you’re getting them fucked-up with two drinks, that’s ten bucks to the till, what? Two bucks to you? Three if you’re lucky? With four or five drinks? That’s twenty-five bucks to the till and more than five in the tip jar.”

“Can you show me one more time?” She was taking the initiative, at least. So he bit back his frustration and showed her.

Four pours. Four shots. Four perfect glasses.

Christ, his head hurt. Bad. And he still had to put out fires at Mickey’s, run deposit at the Spotted Kitten, and approve proofs for the new menus at Bell.

The bar business was booming, even if other things were sliding, like the old bait shop. Galen could run that with one hand tied behind his back and still do all the weird financial shit the man was into. Hell, they’d had it for more than ten years.

He wasn’t sure how he’d ended up like this—how he had ended up owning five clubs. He didn’t even drink hardly anymore.

Hell, right now he was tired enough that he didn’t want anything but caffeine and energy drinks by the case.

“Cool, boss. Thanks.” What the heck was her name? Allie? She winked. Winked at him. Lord.

“I’ve got to go. Greg. Work on this, man.”

“I will. I swear.” Greg could do earnest. Shane just hoped there was follow-through.

He grabbed his laptop bag and headed out. Time for the next stop on his rounds….

Someone stood right in front of his new, sparkly blue Jeep. Leaning on the hood in fact.

He stopped, took a second to admire. Damn. Damn, his Len was fine as frog’s hair. Those long legs went on and on, the ripped jeans and tight polo shirt just right. Galen’s shoulders still looked like they might block the light.


Much love, y’all.




Stormy Weather: Book Three

Galen and Shane are back in the final installment of the Stormy Weather series, and a tempest of epic proportions is brewing. Once they couldn’t get enough of each other, but now Galen’s long hours are driving a wedge between him and Shane. Lonely and starved for his lover’s attention, bartender Shane falls in with a new crowd that doesn’t have his best interests at heart, and Galen struggles with a workload he can’t manage and an unscrupulous partner who wants to eliminate Shane. He can barely keep his head above water, let alone chart a course home to Shane.

While they’re floundering and trying to hold their relationship together, a hurricane heads for the Florida coast—and they’re directly in the path of the storm. It’s a crisis that will either finally break them apart or remind them how much they stand to lose if they don’t hold on to each other.

Also included is the free novella Bartender Rescue.

Second Edition

About BA Tortuga

Texan to the bone and an unrepentant Daddy’s Girl, BA Tortuga spends her days with her basset hounds and her beloved wife, texting her sisters, and eating Mexican food. When she’s not doing that, she’s writing. She spends her days off watching rodeo, knitting and surfing Pinterest in the name of research. BA’s personal saviors include her wife, Julia Talbot, her best friend, Sean Michael, and coffee. Lots of coffee. Really good coffee.

Having written everything from fist-fighting rednecks to hard-core cowboys to werewolves, BA does her damnedest to tell the stories of her heart, which was raised in Northeast Texas, but has heard the call of the  high desert and lives in the Sandias. With books ranging from hard-hitting GLBT romance, to fiery menages, to the most traditional of love stories, BA refuses to be pigeon-holed by anyone but the voices in her head. Find her on the web at www.batortuga.com

Eli Easton on Writing, Future Stories and her latest novel Desperately Seeking Santa (author interview, and giveaway)


Interview With Eli Easton

If you write contemporary romance, is there such a thing as making a main character too “real”? Do you think you can bring too many faults into a character that eventually it becomes too flawed to become a love interest? 

Yeah, that’s something I’ve learned writing romance. I think especially these days, a writer has to be so cautious about making a character unsympathetic, whether they say or do something assholeish, check out another guy, say something non PC, or whatever. It’s often bemoaned by other authors I know that you can’t make a character “real” or the audience complains. And I think that’s true. On the other hand, to me the thing I love about romance is that it’s a fairy tale that gives me hope and good feels. I’m not a fan of reading about a millionaire asshole or a cheater myself. In sum: you need to give a character a few faults to feel “real”, but you have to be very careful what those are. There’re a lot of no nos in romance.

What traits do you find the most interesting in someone? Do you write them into your characters?

I’m a very quiet person myself, but I admire people who can be the life of the party, always joking and witty. I can write that for a character on paper, but that’s far from who I am IRL. 😊

Have you ever put a story away, thinking it just didn’t work? Then years/months/whatever later inspiration struck and you loved it? Is there a title we would recognize if that happened?

I’ve had ideas I’ve shelved because I had other commitments or just didn’t quite have the whole thing settled in my head. A few examples. I wanted to write about a younger gay man who cooks for an older, widowed farmer, and they fall in love over these dinners. That eventually became “A Second Harvest”. And I also had on my idea list to write a “injured hands, bros help each other get off” fic at some point. That eventually became “Five Dares”. I do have some thriller novels partially completed on my hard drive, but not sure they will ever get done.

Have you ever had an issue in RL and worked it through by writing it out in a story? Maybe how you thought you’d feel in a situation?

I do often put my real life issues and worries into stories. Not necessarily to work out a solution, but just because that’s what’s on my mind. For example, I’ve thought about opening a farm sanctuary and my character, Eddie, is doing that in “Tender Mercies”. And I put on the poor guy my own worries about whether I could actually succeed at something like that. Usually my characters are luckier than I am at working out their problems. Ha. IRL we aren’t guaranteed a happy ending. So there’s something cathartic about that.

What’s the wildest scene you’ve imagined and did it make it into a story?

Hmm. There’s a massage at a sex therapy clinic in “The Trouble with Tony” which is pretty out there and hot. It’s got a medical kink angle. 😊 And in “Merry Christmas Mr. Miggles”, there’s a sex-in-a-library scene which was in my head before I started the book.

Ever drunk written a chapter and then read it the next day and still been happy with it? Trust me there’s a whole world of us drunk writers dying to know.

I’m not sure I’ve ever written anything drunk. I’m not a big drinker. I have one glass of wine and I’m snoring on the couch. So drinking and writing do not mix for me.

If you could imagine the best possible place for you to write, where would that be and why?

I’d go for a snowy mountain cabin with fireplace and amazing views. Give me that any day over a beach setting. There’s something about inclement weather that makes it cozy to stay in and write. If it’s too nice outside, I’m distracted.

With so much going on in the world today, do you write to explain? To get away? To move past? To wide our knowledge? Why do you write?

Well, first, to pay the bills. Lol. But I love the escapism of romance, both for myself and for my readers. Our politics are so heavy right now, and all the natural disasters, and people who want to take away other people’s rights. There’s so much hate an intolerance out there. So yeah, I hope my work gives readers a sense of hope and a way out of that reality for a while. But also, I’m proud to promote values that I care about in my work like diversity, inclusivism, basic kindness, and unconditional love.

What’s next for you as a writer?

In 2018 I plan to do only three Eli Easton romance books (I had 5 out this year) and I want to write a thriller under my other name, Jane Jensen. The romance books will include a Christmas book, another Mad Creek book, and then the 3rd is up in the air still.

Thank you so much for inviting me to the blog!


Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK
Length: 50,000 words approx.
Cover Design: Reese Dante

Journalism student Gabe Martin gets his first professional assignment—to write about a Christmas charity dinner that benefits a children’s home. It sounds like a total snooze-fest until Gabe learns that the event’s Santa is a mystery man. He shows up in costume and no one has a clue who he is. Uncovering Santa’s identity sounds like the perfect angle to turn a fluff piece into serious journalism.

Mack “The Mountain” McDonall, at 6’10”, is University of Wisconsin-Madison’s enormous star wrestler. When Gabe first claps eyes on him at a wrestling match, it’s lust at first sight. Gabe’s friend, Jordan, sets up the pair on a date. But when Gabe chatters on about his plans for outing Santa, Mack goes cold, and their first meeting becomes an epic fail.

As Gabe researches the children’s home, he learns that Mack has secrets a guy famous for being a brute wouldn’t want the world to know. Can Gabe find his holiday spirit, write a killer article, win the heart of a surly giant, and give everyone a very merry Christmas?



November 22 – Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words
November 24 – Diverse Reader
November 27 – The Novel Approach
November 29 – Alpha Book Club

Author Bio

Eli Easton has been at various times and under different names a minister’s daughter, a computer programmer, a game designer, the author of paranormal mysteries, a fan fiction writer, an organic farmer, and a long-distance walker. She began writing m/m romance in 2013 and has published 27 books since then. She hopes to write many more.

As an avid reader of such, she is tickled pink when an author manages to combine literary merit, vast stores of humor, melting hotness, and eye-dabbing sweetness into one story. She promises to strive to achieve most of that most of the time. She currently lives on a farm in Pennsylvania with her husband, two bulldogs, several cows, and a cat. All of them (except for the husband) are female, hence explaining the naked men that have taken up residence in her latest fiction writing.


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Review Tour for Smokey Mountain Dreams by Leta Blake and John Solo (Narrator)


Narrated By: John Solo
Length: 14hrs 46mins

After giving up on his career as a country singer in Nashville, Christopher Ryder is happy enough performing at the Smoky Mountain Dreams theme park in Tennessee. But while his beloved Gran loves him the way he is, Christopher feels painfully invisible to everyone else. Even when he’s center stage he aches for someone to see the real him.

Bisexual Jesse Birch has no room in his life for dating. Raising two kids and fighting with family after a tragic accident took his children’s mother, he doesn’t want more than an occasional hook-up. He sure as hell doesn’t want to fall hard for his favorite local singer, but when Christopher walks into his jewelry studio, Jesse hears a new song in his heart

SMD Sample from Leta Blake on Vimeo.

November 13 – Gay Book Reviews, MM Good Book Reviews
November 14 – Alpha Book Club
November 15 – V’s Reads
November 16 – Diverse Reader
November 17 – Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, BFD Blog
November 20 – Gay Book Reviews, Reading In Sarah’s Corner, Valerie Ullmer, OMG Reads
November 22 – Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words
November 24 – Bayou Book Junkie, Gay Media Reviews, Making It Happen

Author Bio

Author of the bestselling book Smoky Mountain Dreams and the fan favorite Training Season, Leta Blake’s educational and professional background is in psychology and finance, respectively. However, her passion has always been for writing. She enjoys crafting romance stories and exploring the psyches of made up people. At home in the Southern U.S., Leta works hard at achieving balance between her day job, her writing, and her family.

Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/letablake
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LetaBlake
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/letablake
Website: https://letablake.wordpress.com


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