A MelanieM Audiobook Review: Runner by Parker Williams and Patrick Zeller (Narrator)

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Rating:  4.5 stars out of 5

Matt Bowers’s life ended at sixteen, when a vicious betrayal by someone who he should have been able to trust left him a shell of himself, fighting OCD and PTSD, living in constant fear and always running. When he buys a remote tract of land, he thinks he’s found the perfect place to hide from the world and attempt to establish some peace. For ten years he believes he’s found a measure of comfort, until the day a stranger begins to run on Matt’s road.

He returns every day, an unwelcome intrusion into Matt’s carefully structured life. Matt appeals to the local sheriff, who cannot help him since the jogger is doing nothing wrong. Gradually, after tentatively breaking the ice, Matt begins to accept the man’s presence—

But when the runner doesn’t show up one day, it throws Matt’s world into chaos and he must make the hardest decision of his life.

I’ve been sitting here wondering what to write.  How do I write a review when I thought the writing was exceptional and the narrating so perfect that I was emotionally pulled into the story from the very beginning? There’s no getting around the fact that Parker Williams can write heartbreaking stories.  This is certainly one of those.  What happens to Matt Bowers at the young age of sixteen should never happen to anyone and yet it does.  We hear stories of sexual abuse over and over again until it almost numbs you.  It takes stories like Matt’s to make those numbers personal and give them a face again.  And a narrator like Patrick Zeller to give them a voice.

Something else horrible happened to Matt that day the teacher attacked him, a deep part of him died or maybe it just permanently changed in order to survive the attack and to try to heal as best he could.  He became a different Matt, a post attack Matt that handled  living post attack far differently than pre attack Matt ever could have envisioned.  He had to take control of his life in the small ways he knew how,  he had to clean, and, he had to make sure he was safe.  Words we would apply to Matt would be PTSD and OCD, however, those words would not be words he applied to himself.

Because this story is told from Matt’s pov, after the attack, Matt finds nothing but  pity and an inability for his Mother and brother to see him as anything other than a wounded preattack Matt, not as the functioning post attack Matt he’s become.  In that frame of mind,  with the help of lawyers, Matt takes charge of the settlement fund at the age of 18, leaves home, buys a remote house with land and basically becomes something of a hermit, remaining isolated and in his mind safe from harm.

So I have major issues there with an 18 year old and his mother not looking at other options for treatment, counseling etc.  Yes, a book can have literary license but my issues with the mother and brother will continue on throughout the story and it’s origins begin here.  I find them irresponsible and their following actions more so.  That Matt “writes off” their actions or apologizes for them because they love him?  That I find equally troubling.  That they  continue to do what they think is best, whether it actually is or not, is something I find controlling bordering on abuse.  That it’s done with love?  Doesn’t make it right or downright creepy.  Especially now that the local sheriff is also his brother.

The runner, a writer named Charlie, gets to know Matt in an unusual way.   And slowly they build a tentative relationship, one that also allows us to see that Matt has also built a life for himself on his land that has its own riches.  There is true beauty here in Parker’s narrative.  Descriptions of  Matt’s life on the land and his inner thoughts of his life and schedules.   And how it all starts to slightly fracture and enlarge as Charlie wedges himself into Matt’s life.

Its only as the brother bludgeons his way back in over and over, harsh and with such a shattering impact that I had to really think about the story and the way the brother is included into Matt’s life.  That he’s such a vivid character is due to the author’s terrific characterization, but I just never “liked him” or the manner in which he felt he had the right to control Matt’s life.  Same goes for Matt’s mother.  Ah well.  Great writing if you make me dislike the characters so.

Either way, these are difficult subjects to address and I’m not sure everyone is going to be able to look at them objectively.  Its far too emotional a story for that.  It is, however, a wonderfully moving one.  I love how it ended.  And for me Patrick Zeller will always be the voice of Matt.  Fragile at times, wounded certainly, and finding the strength that was there all along.  How I love him.

Yes, I absolutely recommend this story and this narrator.

Cover art: Reese Dante is perfection.

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Audible | iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Listening Length: 6 hours and 11 minutes

Audible Audio
Published January 23rd 2018 by Dreamspinner Press (first published July 28th 2017)
ASINB0796Z54VX
Edition LanguageEnglish
URLhsettingMaine (United States)

A MelanieM Review: Hard to Let Go (Haven’s Cove #1) by Jaclyn Quinn

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

 

Owen Richards lives a quiet life in his small hometown of Haven’s Cove. He has a rewarding life consisting of three very supportive—not to mention feisty—women, and a successful bakery that he owns and absolutely loves. Yet, Owen can’t seem to shake this emptiness inside or the intense feeling that something is missing. A sudden encounter with a man from his past, one he despises, turns his entire world upside down. When Owen finds himself attracted to that sexy man, he questions everything, including his sanity. After all, only an incredibly disturbed person would find that he can’t stop thinking about his high school bully.

Brody Walker never expected to return to Haven’s Cove. He’s made a life for himself in Boston, where he can truly be the person he was always meant to be. But an unexpected call has Brody facing all the demons he’d left behind so long ago. Now, he’s faced with not only a difficult goodbye, but one long overdue apology to a man who is no longer that lanky kid from high school. The challenge is to convince the guy he’s changed—and also prove he’s worth taking a chance on.

When passions ignite truths are exposed, changing the beliefs these men have held on to for years. Faced with the knowledge that things aren’t always what they seem, will they choose to hold on to the incredible thing they’ve found…or is it easier to give in to the fear and let go?

I love it when I discover a new author and start a new series all while reading a book I enjoyed thoroughly.  That just happened with Hard to Let Go (Haven’s Cove #1) by Jaclyn Quinn.   Quinn has created a small town filled with lovely atmosphere and local flavor, enough to have started pulling home it’s young people who left for college and returned to start businesses and buy homes. Of course, other things, sadder,  more angst driven events have brought them home as well.

For Brody Walker who hoped never to set foot in Haven’s Cover again, it’s to spend time with his dying mother and to hopefully find some closer for himself on his traumatic youth and childhood.  He also needs to face his own past and guilt over deeds done.  It’s a journey he’s not sure he can face.  The author switches pov, putting us into the emotional turmoil and mental anguish that is Brody upon his return to Haven’s Cove.  We feel an immediate connection to this character and his life is spread out before us like a map, showing us exactly a line from the childhood abuse to his behavior throughout his life.  He’s a poignant and powerful figure.

Owen Richards has close ties to Brody.  How close we find out almost upon Brody’s return to town.  It’ impact upon Owen’s life pushes it out of the stagnant level it was in, especially concerning his relationship with his best friend/boyfriend Jonas into one of uncertainty, excitement and action.

I just loved all the characters here including the ones that I hope Quinn is setting up for future stories including Jonas and Gabe (not as a couple but separately).  Each is looking for someone different and Gabe, Brody’s best friend, already has someone in mind, whether they want it or not.

The abuse here is brought up in memories or flashbacks but packs an emotional punch as it should.  My only sorrow is that the father was never made to pay for his crimes, especially as he confessed in front of a witness.  Although I’m not sure what the law says about the statute of limitations.

That being my only element of irritation, I loved everything else about this story, from the characters to the universe the author is building in Haven’s Cove to the depth of the storylines.  It has everything you would want and more.  I highly recommend  Hard to Let Go and can’t wait for the next in the series to be released.

Cover by Cate Ashwood Designs. I just love this cover.  Its both the characters and Haven’s Cove tied up together. Perfect.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1 edition, 254 pages
Published February 18th 2018
Original TitleHard to Let Go
ASINB079WTSJWD
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesHaven’s Cove #1

An Ali Review: Closer by F.E. Feeley Jr.

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Maplewood, Vermont is a picturesque town filled with unique shops, unique homes, and a quaint familiarity all centered around a lake with an unusual history.

Legends, old as well as Urban, float around like the mist that hovers above the lake at break of dawn.

But they’re just stories, right?

Hayden Moore’s life was destroyed when his husband, Malcolm, was murdered. Giving up his job as an assistant district attorney in Boston, Hayden moved to the little burg of Maplewood to recover.

A new life.

A fresh start.

However, something underneath the water is stirring. Something rotten. A deadly secret wakes underneath the black waters of Lake Veronica so disturbing it haunts the nightmares of the local residents.

It’s coming closer…
 
I recently toured The Stanley hotel (from Stephen King’s the Shining) and it was so creepy and filled with awesome ghost stories.  So I came home just itching to read spooky, scary tales and I’m happy to say this one fit the bill.  I was just a few pages into it before I was pondering whether I should be reading with the lights off or not.
Hayden is looking for a fresh start after the death of his husband.  He’s hoping for a quiet and peaceful life.  Unfortunately for him the idyllic town is far from peaceful.  Hayden meets Tommy and the two of them, as well as a small band of characters, begin trying to figure what is going on in their town and around the lake.
It’s a bit hard to talk about this book without spoilers.  This is a paranormal mystery and I think it could be considered a horror story as well.  It also focuses on the characters relationships with each other, both as friendships and as romances.
The author has a unique writing style and it fits well with the overall plot.  I’ve read other books by this author and this one seemed to be written a bit differently.  Maybe that was due to how the point of view was handled.  (or it could be because I’m remembering wrong).
I really enjoyed this and I thought it was super unique.  I’m always looking for stuff that’s different and I thought this fit the bill well.  It was a story I would definitely recommend.
Cover:  I absolutely love the cover.  I think it does a fantastic job setting the mood and overall feel for this book.
Book Details:
ebook, 380 pages
Published March 1st 2018 by Beaten Track Publishing
ISBN139781786451873
Edition LanguageEnglish

BA Tortuga on Favorite Childhood Books and her new release Cowboy in the Crosshairs (Turquoise, New Mexico #1) (guest blog)

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Cowboy in the Crosshairs (Turquoise, New Mexico #1) by B.A. Tortuga
Dreamspinner Press
Dreamspun Desires

Cover art: Bree Archer

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have BA Tortuga  here again talking about reading, and her latest release and new series, Cowboy in the Crosshairs.

♦︎

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

Hey, y’all! I’m BA Tortuga, resident redneck and happy reader.

*grins*

I was (am) a voracious reader and I would go through phases: everything the library had about ‘x’.

All the Nancy Drew books.

All the books on ceramic dolls.

All the books on World War II.

All the horror novels. All the romance novels.

Right now I’m obsessed with fairy tales and patterns in literary theory. Who knows what it’ll be tomorrow.

When I think about about my favorites as a little girl, they were What Katy Did and Little Women, The Five Little Peppers and Mrs. Piggle Wiggle (which is out in audiobook, OMG). Strong women fixing their own problems and living their own lives.

My teenaged years were all about horror novels. ALL. I can rhapsodize about IT and The Dark Half and Beloved and Swan Song. Uhn. I still read horror like it’s going out of style, but the 70-80s were the best, huh? MAGIC.

I think the storytelling parts of all these books, along with main characters with backbones of steel are totally obvious in my writing now.

(And if you want to be scared? I wrote Unearthed. I welcome you to read it.)

Much love, y’all.

BA

***

Cowboy in the Crosshairs Blurb

A Turquoise, New Mexico Story

Once upon a time, a prince lived in a magical kingdom called Turquoise, New Mexico.

Well, really, TJ is a small-town police chief. Every Friday he holds court in the diner with the local holy roller, the art colonists, and the horsey people. But the Benes, who own the rodeo company, keep to themselves. TJ knows, because he was once hot and heavy with the oldest Bene son.

When Wacey Bene gets trampled by a remuda and comes home to heal, he’s none too happy to run into TJ, or his two little boys and their momma. The story might end there—if it wasn’t for some pesky bastard trying to kill Wacey.

The law steps in, and the townsfolk are cross about somebody messing with one of their own.

But once the bad guy is put away, can TJ and Wacey make their place in this wild and eccentric town a permanent one?

Available from Dreamspinner Press on March 6: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/cowboy-in-the-crosshairs-by-ba-tortuga-9336-b

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

Russell J. Sanders on the Titanic, Tex-Mex, and his new release ‘Titanic Summer’ (guest blog)

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Titanic Summer by Russell J. Sanders
Harmony Ink Press
Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson

Buy Links: Harmony Ink Press |  Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Russell J. Sanders here  today talking about his latest story Titanic Summers. Welcome, Russell.

♦︎

Titanic Summer: A Li’l Travel, a Li’l Politics, and a Lotta Enchiladas

By Russell Sanders

The best hobbies are those that give you joy, engage your mind, and lead you on a quest. You lose yourself in the research, the acquiring, the sheer happiness of just sitting and staring at your treasures. Oh, how I’ve experienced all that! I can spend hours at the piano, playing and singing for only me. I can peruse cookbooks, looking at variations of a single recipe just to decide how I, the amateur chef, will compose a delicacy. I can lose myself in the vast internet, planning an exotic trip—booking those flights to Bali, choosing the seats for that Broadway show, reading all about the museum in Boston so I’ll savor every moment, drooling over the thought of the Mexican food I’ve found in Bar Harbor of all places. And I can never flip the TV remote past a documentary on the Titanic, that magnificent ship that sank on its maiden voyage.

The story of the Titanic has everything: mystery, majesty, the rich and famous, the downtrodden seeking new lives in a new land, the hubris of designers and ship line magnates declaring the ship unsinkable, and it has Molly Brown, the unsinkable wannabe society dame from Colorado, filthy rich and not afraid to spend it! The tale of the Titanic has everything, and I can’t get enough. Books, movies, TV, exhibits…I’ve read ‘em all, seen ‘em all, visited ‘em all.

So fresh off a pilgrimage to the Titanic graves and the Titanic museum in Halifax, Nova Scotia, ten years ago, I began another journey. I wanted my next novel to feature that Titanic experience in some way.

I write novels intended primarily for teen readers. My ego and my desire want them to be far much more, great works that everyone wants and needs and has to read. So pick up a copy of Titanic Summer. You won’t be disappointed even if you’re sixty-five and still a teen at heart. But I digress. I knew that most teens would not be all that excited about the ship that hit the iceberg. But what if a teen’s dad was? And what if Dad took his son on his pilgrimage? And what if teen got into the whole Titanic thing because he loved his dad?

Ah! Now that’s what stories are made of. With little more than that, I began writing. And writing. And writing. Ten years later, ten zillion revisions later, Titanic Summer became what it is today. The book that Harmony Ink Press decided to take a chance on. Oh—I forgot. Add another revision to it all because even after Harmony Ink accepted the manuscript (and yes, that was only after I did a further revision for them,) the editing process began and that first edit was like re-writing the whole novel. I have never worked so hard on an edit in my life. But it was worth it. Titanic Summer is now as magnificent as the ship it rode in on. Yeah, I know—that’s for the readers to decide. If an author can’t use a little hyperbole, who can?

Somewhere in all those revisions, teen Jake became gay, and in real life, Houston city council passed an equal rights ordinance. That bit of history was ultimately defeated by the voters, and I, a devastated Houston gay man, realized that any poor teenage Houstonian gay would be profoundly affected by it all. And another layer was added to Jake’s story.

Titanic Summer is a travelogue. Readers—I’m talkin’ to you out there because you just gotta read this book!—will journey from Houston to Philadelphia to Boston to Portland, Maine, to Halifax, and back to Philly and Houston. There are lots of sights to be seen.

Titanic Summer is also another kind of journey. A sixteen-year-old boy who knows he’s gay and doesn’t want to accept it. He doesn’t care if anyone else in the world is gay, but he doesn’t want to have anything to do with it for himself. Not because he doesn’t want to be gay; he just doesn’t want anyone to know about him. It’s a roller coaster ride for Jake, folks. Step right up and see the kid try to take the next rise and sudden dip—whoosh! Will he live to ride again, or will he end up tossing his cookies, vowing never to get on that Texas Hurricane again?

Titanic Summer is Tex-Mex. Oh, it is Tex-Mex. Believe me, if you don’t finish this wanting some nachos, some enchiladas, some chips, some salsa, some guac, then you seriously are not a Houstonian. But we can make you one real fast. Dive in, the water’s fine (make that a Margarita; that is, if you’re legal—we don’t advocate underage drinking, y’all.) Search Yelp and find the nearest Tex Mex near you, jump on your pony, and head out to the feeding trough. And better yet, if there’s a Chuy’s near you, that’s the place to go. If you’re a novice, start with the Panchos. Then graduate to the Classic Tex Mex enchiladas. After that, you’re good to go. Do like me. Find you some Mexican food wherever you travel. It might turn out to be great (Jakarta, Indonesia) or might turn out to be rather strange (Rome, Italy) but it’s always an adventure. And if you’re not craving chips and salsa after reading Titanic Summer, I’ve not done my job. By the way, I am NOT a paid spokesperson for Chuy’s Restaurants. But if I got a little rebate from each time I’ve eaten there, I’d be a wealthy man.

So there you have it—the lowdown on Titanic Summer. Part Canada, part New England, part Houston, and all heart. And Tex-Mex. Don’t forget the Tex-Mex.

Blurb—Titanic Summer

It’s 2015, and teenage Jake Hardy is hiding something. During a summer trip to the Titanic Mecca of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Jake’s father makes a confession, and though Jake feels upset and confused, he also wants to be understanding. But he feels deceived—much like he’s deceiving those he cares about. Jake is gay, just not ready to tell the world.

Jake and his father are far from alone in their secrets, as Jake discovers back in Texas, where the fight for and against the Equal Rights Ordinance rages. He’s surprised to learn how much the outcome will affect his friends, and he’s torn between standing with them and the wishes of his religious fanatic mother. Being true to himself won’t be easy or painless, and it will come with sacrifices—and rewards.

About the Author

Russell J. Sanders is a lifelong devotee of the theater. He’s a singer, actor, and director, winning awards for his acting roles and shows he has directed. As a teacher, he has taught theater arts to hundreds of students, plus he’s also taught literature and writing to thousands of others. Russell has also traveled the world, visiting Indonesia, Japan, India, Canada, the Caribbean, London, Amsterdam, Paris, Rome, Florence, and Venice—and almost all the US states. His friends think he’s crazy, but wherever he goes, he seeks out Mexican restaurants. The Mexican food in Tokyo was great, he says; in Rome, not so good. Texans cut their teeth on barbecue and Mexican food. Russell’s love for enchiladas led him on a quest to try them wherever he can find them, and he has found them in some very out-of-the-way places. And good or bad, he’s delighted to sample his favorite food. Most importantly, Russell is an out-and-proud gay man, living in Houston with his husband, a relatively recent marriage but a relationship that started twenty years ago. He hopes that his novels inspire confidence and instill pride in his young gay fans, and he also hopes others learn from his work, as well.

Website: www.russelljsanders.weebly.com   

Facebook: www.facebook.com/russell.sanders.14

Visit my website: www.russelljsanders.weebly.com

Follow me on Facebook at Russell J. Sanders, author: https://www.facebook.com/Russell-J-Sanders-author-514666448554674/

Follow me on Twitter: @russelljsanders

Visit my author page on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Russell-Sanders/e/B00AVXOY80/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

View my about me page:  https://about.me/russell.sanders

View my book trailers:  (all book trailers use free use public domain images and music)

Thirteen Therapists: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fH-zdafR2c8&feature=youtu.be

Special Effect: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DrVphGxgXqc&feature=youtu.be

The Book of Ethan: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A6IBm1CBINg

Colors: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FwkLr2TTpcI

All You Need Is Love: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qsQUwQUoUzs&feature=youtu.be

Titanic Summer: https://youtu.be/tVqWvlOP-PQ

Audiobook Blitz and Giveaway for Leaning Into the Fall (Leaning Into Stories #2 ) by Lane Hayes and Nick J. Russo (Narrator)

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Title:  Leaning Into the Fall

Series: Leaning Into Stories, #2

Author: Lane Hayes

Publisher:  Self-Published

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 7 hrs and 44 mins

Genre: Romance, Erotica, Bisexual, humor, San Francisco, May to December romance

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

Nick Jorgensen is a quirky genius. He’s made a fortune in the competitive high tech field with his quick mind and attention to detail. He believes in hard work and trusting his gut. And he believes in karma. It’s the only thing that makes sense. People are difficult, but numbers never lie. In the disastrous wake of a broken engagement to an investor’s daughter, Nick is more certain than ever he isn’t relationship material.

Wes Conrad owns a thriving winery in Napa Valley. The relaxed atmosphere is a welcome departure from his former career as a high-rolling businessman. Wes’s laid-back nature is laced with a fierceness that appeals to Nick. In spite of his best intention to steer clear of complications, Nick can’t fight his growing attraction to the sexy older man who seems to understand him. Even the broken parts he doesn’t get himself. However, when Wes’s past collides with Nick’s present, both men will have to have to decide if they’re ready to lean into the ultimate fall.

Listen to an audio excerpt & purchase at Audible

 Meet the Author

Lane Hayes is grateful to finally be doing what she loves best. Writing full-time! It’s no secret Lane loves a good romance novel. An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. These days she prefers the leading roles to both be men. Lane discovered the M/M genre a few years ago and was instantly hooked. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and were winners in the 2016 Rainbow Awards. She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in an almost empty nest.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Meet the Narrator

Nick is an award winning narrator with a fan following for his work in fiction, specifically in the romance genre. His performances in two of Amy Lane’s books, Beneath the Stain and Christmas Kitsch, made him the recipient of Sinfully M/M Book Review’s Narrator of the Year – 2015. When he’s not in the booth, Nick enjoys spending time with his wife, Jessica, and kids, (aka their beagle Frank and cat Stella), drumming in his cover band, exploring rural back roads with his wife on his motorcycle, or being enthralled in a tabletop role playing game with his friends. 

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