A MelanieM Review: Life Itself by Elizabeth Bones

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Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

 

Tavali is a mage, a master thief, and his antics have just accidentally released one hundred demons across the dimensional plane. Now Tavali must recapture the errant demons, accompanied by a sentient sword determined to make him see the task through.

But fixing a mistake is always far more difficult than making it, and even love, magic, and a bossy sword may not be enough to save the day…

I thought that Life Itself by Elisabeth Bones a charming fantasy story.  Mostly adventure with some romance thrown in (one already established when the story begins), Bones weaves a tale of a young mage/thief who’s mission is to set right something he has caused to go tragically wrong. In this case, because he wanted to prove that he was more talented than others, he set loose 100 demons that had been imprisoned by a Goddess in a mirror. Now he’s tasked by said furious Goddess not to rest or return home until all have been recaptured.

It’s quite the undertaking and the Goddess has sent a sentient sword to keep him focused and moving always onto the  next demon.  Luckily for Tavali, he also picked up a loving partner, Suran, as well. So the hunt for the demons has two people and one imperious sword doing the Goddess’ bidding.

I found myself wishing Bones had been a little clearer on the world building here.  Apparently, the sword takes them from world to world chasing the demons which scattered all over the galaxy or  various dimensions as it were.  By the time the story beings, Tavali is extremely weary having recaptured all but 8.

I would have liked to have more of past demon hunts or something but except for the one where Tavali meets his prince/lover we don’t get much back story.  And that’s a shame.  Most of Life Itself revolves around one demon hunt.  Good thing its a good one.

Bones creates a wonderful child character, a life force magic, and a demon to contend with for Tavali.  In many ways I almost wished for more of this girl and her world.  I found her charming, courageous, and someone I absolutely connected with.

In fact, most of my issues with this story is that I wish it were longer so that the author could add in more elements to her world building, back history to her characters, and just perhaps give us those last demons that remained to be hunted down.

I will certainly be on the lookout for more stories by Elizabeth Bones and recommend this one to all lovers of adventure and fantasy.

Cover art: Aisha Akeju.  I like the cover, its visually pleasing and speaks of magic.

Sales Links:  Less Than Three Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook
Published May 23rd 2018 by Less Than Three Press
ISBN139781684312351
Edition LanguageEnglish

A MelanieM Review: Three More Nick Nowak Mysteries (Boystown #2) by Marshall Thornton

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Rating: 4. 5 stars out of 5

 

The Boystown Mystery series continues as Chicago private investigator Nick Nowak finds himself involved in three new cases. He’s asked to help a young man who murdered his stepfather but refuses to assist in his own defense, hired to find the murderer of a dead porno star, and, in a case that traps him between the two men he loves, must search for a serial killer’s only living victim. Set in the second half of 1981, Nick juggles his deepening relationship with Detective Bert Harker with the return of his ex, Daniel Laverty. Which man will he choose? Or will he be able to choose?

In this second collection of stories, the character of Nick Novak continues to develop, revealing more of himself and the tangled web of emotions and relationships he’s caught up in.  Nick is unable to let go of his past and his first love, Daniel Laverty.  The trauma under which they parted has a great deal to do with that and the fact that Nick has never effectively dealt with it.

Now there’s a man who is demanding his time and attention, Detective Bert Harker, a  police officer he met through a case.  Much like Nick, when he was on the force, Harker is determined to stay in the closet until retirement not only because he saw what happened to Nick but also due to the rampant homophobia daily on display in the Chicago PD. Thornton delivers a wrenching portrait of a man who no longer trusts his own feelings, who isn’t able to recognize his own state of emotions with regard to love, and uses sex to deflect finding any answers within himself.  Anyone who is available for quick sex in any form is used for physical and often emotional release, whether  Nick admits it or not.

That includes friends with their own “boyfriends” and issues, clients, former clients, and odd hookup with a source of information.  Nick sets a new low for lack of professionalism and he knows how dangerously he’s skirting the boundaries.  Nick is still very much a main in pain and very slowly  trying to recover from the loss of his job, family, and lover.

It’s still sex, drugs, murder, and the 80’s surrounding Nick Novak and his cases so in the background you get a roll call of the news of that era, playlists that will still sound familiar, and  many gadgets/electronic devices that thankfully are now consigned to museum status (think typewriters to mimeographs).  Thornton’s stories are both familiar and yet just placed far enough in the past to give us a perspective that will have a chilling impact as certain events and facts start to intrude into these stories and these characters lives.

The murder cases are fascinating. And they will continue to impact Nick in the books future down the road. How they are solved, the step by step process, the grunt work, how Nick work’s it out…the reader is there with him making all the connections.  All the stories are told in first person narrative.  It’s that gritty, wry, dark voice of Nick that drives these stories.  Nick perseveres when no one else will, despite an inner voice telling him not too. He knows when his actions are indulgent or destructive and yet he does them anyway.  And when he finally gives way and acknowledges some small insight into his inner turmoil?  It becomes shockingly brilliant portrait of a man at a crossroads in his life.

Nick and all those you will meet here will leave a lasting impression on you.  That I promise.  The writing is superb, the characterizations phenomenal, and the stories will leave a lasting impact, all the more so when taken as a whole.

This is the last book that includes a collection.  From here each novel goes to complete stories with one case and Nick dealing with his increasingly complicated personal life.

A note about the sex, promiscuity and “cheating”.  This is the 80’s and the gay scene in Chicago.  This is not romance.  This is a time of sex, tons of hookups, where being monogamist was more perhaps “hetexronormive” and less gay. It was a time of bathhouses, swinging, cocaine, and so much more.  It was also when the first small rumors starts of a illness that seemed to hit only gay men, called at first the “gay flu”.

So if you as a reader are looking for a romance or won’t read books with cheating, here’s a couple of things to consider.  One, this isn’t a romance and,. secondly, its hard judging the sexual morality of era like the 80’s from today’s perspective. They were coming off of times where they had been hiding who they were, many fearing for decades for their lives if it was known they were homosexuals.  The 80’s were a veritable floodgates of freedom compared to the past.  And the sex was a reflection of that. So, anyway, still perhaps this might not be the book or series for you but I hope you will give it a try.  Otherwise you’ll be missing out on a incredible series.

I highly recommend this collection. Indeed I say that about the entire Boystown series and its author Marshall Thornton.   More to come.  Stay tuned.

Cover art again is more about the tone and less about the era and theme.  Works for branding but I’m not really a fan.

Sales Links:Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 241 pages
Published January 9th 2015 (first published July 28th 2010)
ASINB00R09EV6I
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesBoystown #2

Series:

Boystown Bundle 1 – 3 – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #4 A Time For Secrets – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #5 Murder Book – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #6 From The Ashes – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #7 Bloodlines – Amazon US | Amazon UK (ON SALE for 99c)
Book #8 The Lies That Bind – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #9 Lucky Days – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #10 Gifts Given – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #11 Hearts Desire – Amazon US | Amazon UK (PREOR

A Vvivacious Review: Twenty-One Arrow Salute (The Order #2.5) by Kasia Bacon

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Rating: 5 *can’t wait for more* Stars out of 5

Verhan Tŭrryés loose of tongue and looser of morals finds himself blackmailed into helping Hernan Seinnès the green eyed auburn haired Asirhwӱnian in a unit composed entirely of Highlanders.

As Verhan starts to train Hernan he finds himself exquisitely drawn to him, a whole horde of unknown feelings finding residence in his heart but will he find the courage in his heart to own up to his feelings…

I really love these elves and their shenanigans. God! I want another story with Verhan and Hernan. I really can’t believe that we didn’t get more of these two in this one. I need, I physically need the story about what happens at the Archer’s Fete. You can’t entice us with the most exquisitely set buffet and then slam the doors just when we are salivating and drooling all over the floor. That’s just unfair. At this point, I don’t even know what I want more Ervyn and Lochan or Verhan and Hernan. Can I just have more of both, pretty please?

Now that that’s over, let me get into a more wordy review compared to the squeefest above. For those like me who have completely forgotten the names of all the characters, let me reiterate. Verhan Tŭrryés is Ervyn’s annoying cousin, annoying is my adjective as far as my assessment of him in the first two Order books goes. He is the guy who tells/informs Lochan what mu’hrōnye means and what its special significance to Ervyn is.

Hernan Seinnès is the guy at the trials who is trying, trying being the operative word, to get a position with the scouts by competing with Ervyn. Basically, the guy who lost at the end of Highlander to Ervyn.

Now that that’s out of the way let’s get on with this review. So yeah, I had completely forgotten the names of these two characters which didn’t bode well for me but considering how long its been since I read “Highlander” coupled with the fact that the unusual spellings of their names really trip me up, I am actually having a hard time remembering anyone’s names in the Order Universe not that I don’t remember their characteristaions. Like someone just had to tell me that Verhan was Ervyn’s annoying cousin and I would have remembered because I guess in the Order Universe I am so so partial to Ervyn and Lochan tthat I basically can recall anything when you relate it to them. So yeah, I had my apprehensions but I sometimes really wonder why Kasia Bacon has delivered excellence time and again and so far as this Order series is going she can do no wrong because wow! I was so drawn into this story.

Verhan has a lot of growing up to do but I liked seeing him do it right in front of my eyes though I somehow came to like him even at his mischievious best, it was amazing. Hernan was the character who really rose in my eyes, he was not a character we were introduced to in Highlander but God! in this story I fell in love with him just as quickly as Verhan does.

This was so so good and God! that first kiss. I can’t believe we didn’t get any more of those tender moments between these two. Please don’t let this be the end for these two.

I loved this one so so much. Meeting these two characters along with all the interesting side characters and getting to know them was amazing. This was such a simple tale of love but it was almost magical in the feels.

I can’t *clapping my hands in glee* wait for more.

Also, will we finally get to see Ervyn buy a horse for Lochan in the Scouts because you just can’t have Verhan mention that particular custom twice in two successive books without there being some hidden meaning to it. Right?

Cover Art by Ying Draws. What an amazing cover! That is Hernan Seinnès on the cover and he is gorgeous.

Sales Link:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition
Published June 11th 2018 by Kasia Bacon
ASINB07DDL4RNW
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesThe Order #2.5

A Lila Audiobook Review: Once Upon a Wolf (Wayward Wolves #1) by Rhys Ford and Derrick McClain Narrator)

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Gibson Keller’s days are fairly routine: wake up early, get some work done, drink lots of coffee, and take care of Ellis, his older brother, stuck in wolf form after coming home from the war. It’s a simple life made up of long runs on two legs – or four – and quiet evenings…until Ellis chases a handsome man off a cliff and into the frozen waters beside their cabin, changing Gibson’s life forever.

For Zach Thomas, buying an old B&B is a new start. Leaving behind his city life, he longs to find peace and quiet, and hiking the trails behind his property seems safe enough – right up to the moment an enormous black wolf chases him into a lake, nearly drowning him. Discovering werewolves are real astounds him, but not as much as the man who rescues him from the icy water, then walks into Zach’s heart as if he owns it.

Loving a werewolf – loving Gibson with all his secrets – has its challenges, but Zach believes their love is worth fighting for, especially since his heart knows the big, bad wolf is really a prince in disguise.

Once Upon a Wolf has an interesting concept and a slow development. It has a different take on werewolves’ dynamics and relationships. I’m glad it was not an insta-love story–which I love as well-but the pacing gives the reader the chance to understand what makes this short story unique.

The story is more about the relationship between Ellis, Gibson, and Zack than a love story. I really like all the characters, especially Ellis. His relationship with Gibson and how they communicate even when he was in wolf form show the author’s attention to detail. Zach was a bit of a puzzle and I wanted more from him and his background.

Like most short stories, the amount of world-build and new information takes a lot of time to develop, leaving little time for other aspects of the story. It’s a strong start to a series, and I hope book two is better than this one.

Derrick McClain didn’t do much for this story. It felt flat and I have trouble following the characters at times. Other scenes were a bit over the top.

The cover by Reece Notley is simple and to the point just like the story. It’s interesting enough to make people stop and read the blurb.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner | Audible | iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Narrator: Derrick McClain
Length: 3 hours and 49 minutes
Published: May 16, 2018 (Audio Edition) by Dreamspinner Press
ASIN: B07D314G4X

Edition Language: EnglishSeries: Wayward Wolves
Book #1: Once Upon a Wolf

Michael Rupured on Characters, Writing, and his new release The Case of the Missing Drag Queen (A Luke Tanner Mystery #1) (guest blog)

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The Case of the Missing Drag Queen (A Luke Tanner Mystery #1)

by

Michael Rupured

DSP Publications

Cover Artist: Alexandria Corza

BUY LINKS

AMAZON | B&N | KOBO | DSP PUBLICATIONS

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Michael Rupured here today talking about writing, characters, and the latest in the Luke Tanner mystery series, The Case of the Missing Drag Queen.  Welcome, Michael.

♦︎

Our Interview with Michael Rupured……

 

How much of yourself goes into a character? Sometimes more, sometimes less, depending on the character. Probably more than I realize. Many combine aspects of people I know, have seen on television, or in a few instances, passed on the street. Regardless of the inspiration, characters have a way of taking on sometimes surprising lives of their own before I finish the first draft.

Does research play a role in which genre you write? A desire to show how much things have changed for the LGBT community in my lifetime motivates me to write. Homosexuality was considered a mental illness, same-sex relations were illegal, and discrimination was the norm throughout most of the 20th Century. Because life for homosexuals was often dangerous, mysteries are the ideal genre for my stories.

How do you feel about the ebook format and where do you see it going? Like them or not, ebooks in one format or another are here to stay. More options make reading accessible to more readers. I prefer paperbacks, but because of vision issues, usually buy (or rent) audiobooks. Piracy, however, is a huge problem with ebooks. I get notices almost every day about a site offering free downloads of one or more of my books.

How do you choose your cover? I envy authors who know exactly what they want for a cover. I never do. Filling out the cover request form is always a struggle. My brain doesn’t work that way. The artist creates a few different versions, I say what I like and don’t like about each one, and we repeat the process until everyone is satisfied. The stunning cover Alexandria Corza designed for The Case of the Missing Drag Queen is perfect for the story.

Do you have a favorite among your own stories? And why? The Case of the Missing Drag Queen is a contender. It’s the first set entirely in Lexington KY—my hometown—and it takes place in 1982, a few years after I came out. Whippersnapper is the best story. Unfortunately, it’s in the wrong genre. Rather than the May-September romance suggested by the cover and blurb, it’s really about Peggy Tucker’s big awakening. The HEA ending makes me cry every time.

Have you ever put a story away, thinking it just didn’t work? Funny you should ask. After Happy Independence Day was published, I abandoned half a dozen manuscripts. Around 15,000 words, the story ran out of gas leaving a great cast of characters with no place to go. With a lot of encouragement, I did finish Whippersnapper, then couldn’t finish a story if my life depended on it. In May of last year, I figured out what was wrong with my abandoned stories. I found out a novel is supposed to be about the main character’s literal or figurative journey. You could have knocked me over with a feather! The Case of the Missing Drag Queen is my first novel since that epiphany.

What’s the wildest scene you’ve imagined and did it make it into the story? I first heard about m-m romance a few weeks after I started writing Until Thanksgiving. When pressed to identify the genre, a member of my writers group said it was m-m romance and sent me several to read. Like many gay male authors who stumble into the genre, I confess to having had a bit of a chip on my shoulder for a short time about all the straight female readers and writers. I felt like I had something to prove, and wrote some extremely graphic sex scenes. Another member of the group said lighting was the difference between romance and porn, and my scenes were very brightly lit. In the end, I kept a few paragraphs from the beginning and end of each scene and cut the rest.

If you could imagine the best possible place for you to write, where would that be and why? It’s tempting to say the beach, or the mountains, or by a lake, but I’d be lying. I’m happy writing in my comfy leather recliner here in Athens GA with my diabetic chihuahua between my legs and everything I need within easy reach.

Blurb

Broke, saddled with a mountain of debt, and dependent on his Aunt Callie’s support, aspiring writer Luke Tanner has returned to Kentucky to put his life back together after a failed five-year relationship.

On his twenty-fifth birthday, Luke meets diminutive Pixie Wilder, a long-time performer at the Gilded Lily. After headliner Ruby Dubonnet doesn’t show up, Pixie takes her place as the star of the show—a motive that makes her a suspect in Ruby’s disappearance.

Luke reluctantly agrees to help his new-found friend clear her name. He and Pixie set out to find the missing drag queen, and in the process, put themselves in danger.

About the Author

Michael Rupured writes stories true enough for government work about gay life from the 1960s to today. This life-long Southerner was born in Fayetteville NC, grew up in Lexington KY, and after 18 months in Washington DC, moved to Athens GA where he’s lived since 1999. By day, he’s senior faculty in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences at the University of Georgia. He’s an avid fan of the Georgia Bulldogs, the Kentucky Wildcats, and any team playing the Florida Gators. In his free time, Michael tinkers with his garden, plays with Toodles (his diabetic chihuahua), and keeps up with his many friends around the country. Previous novels include Until Thanksgiving (thriller), No Good Deed (mystery/thriller), Whippersnapper (regional), and Happy Independence Day (historical). Visit his website, follow on Twitter and Goodreads, like his Facebook page, or shoot him a message (mrupured@gmail.com).

 

The Case of the Missing Drag Queen

Series: Luke Tanner Mysteries, Book One

Genre: Mystery, LGBT Fiction

Word Count: 60K

Release Blitz for Expecting (Pine Wood Falls #1) by Sarah Havan (excerpt)

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RELEASE BLITZ AND REVIEW TOUR

Book Title:  Expecting (Pine Wood Falls #1)

Author: Sarah Havan

Publisher: Self-Published

Cover Artist: Melissa Liban

Genre/s: m/m romance, non-shifter Mpreg romance, secret omegaverse

Length:  65,000 words/262 pages

Release Date: June 21, 2018

It’s the start of a series but can be read as a standalone.

Goodreads

Blurb

Conrad Mayfair is finally becoming comfortable in his own skin, so he wants to tell his best friend Mason that he’s gay and in love with him. He can’t seem to get the words out, though. But soon the flirting starts, followed by a weekend of marathon sex, and the shocking news a few months later that Conrad is going to be a father.

Something’s going on with nineteen-year-old Mason Donnelly. He seems to be developing breasts, has felt sick for months, and is constantly tired. After a doctor’s appointment to try to figure things out, his life flips upside down. He learns not only is he intersex, but he’s also pregnant, a condition only made possible because Mason is an omega and Conrad is his alpha.

Conrad and Mason are introduced to a new way of life they knew nothing about. While Conrad is willing to jump in and accept it, Mason isn’t so sure. Together, they have to decide if it’s a life they truly want.

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US 

Amazon UK 

Excerpt

Mason

“Do I see stubble?” my best friend Conrad asked. He lay on his bed with his hands behind his head, shirtless, his abs on display for all of their six-pack glory. Images of me running my tongue over them flashed through my head.

I rubbed the side of my jaw. “You sure do. At the age of nineteen, I’m finally becoming a real man.”

“Dude, you’ve been a man. Just a hairless one. Are you still hairless everywhere else?” He smiled and sat up, crossing his legs.

“God, Conrad.” I turned around in my desk chair and folded my arms over my chest, pretending I didn’t want to share the information. He knew I’d cave and tell him, happened that way every time.

“Well?”

“If you must know, no.” I glanced over my shoulder at him.

“Chest hair?” he grinned and leaned forward, resting his forearms on his thighs and clasping his hands.

I spun around to face him and shook my head.

“Ah, down there.”

“Okay, we need to stop talking about this and that hair has been there for a couple years now.”

“You’re my best friend. We should be able to talk about everything.”

“Some things, I don’t want to talk about.” I turned back toward my desk, trying to complete my assignment for the class I had later in the day. I loved taking a fiction writing course, but I didn’t like when we had to write papers analyzing books we had read in class, thus me still working on my paper.

“It’s not like you’re the only one who’s had delayed puberty.” Those words, how I loathed them.

“I swear to God I’m going to punch you,” I said over my shoulder.

“All right, sorry. I know it’s a touchy subject for you.”

“And yet, you decided to have a conversation about it.”

“Just curious.”

I sighed and turned back toward Conrad. “But now, I feel ready to, you know.”

“Have sex?” he asked, raising an eyebrow at me.

I shrugged. “Well, yeah.”

“Because you grew some facial hair?” Conrad rubbed his palm over his jaw which caused my cock to stir in my pants. I had fallen in love with him years ago, and my feelings for him lately had gotten a lot stronger.

“Maybe it’ll make me look older, more rugged, more desirable.” Because I was a sophomore in college and still looked like I belonged in high school.

“If you’re going to be with someone, they should want to be with you no matter what you look like.”

“That’s easy for you to say. You’re six-foot-four and have been all manly since you were like thirteen. I’m five-foot-five, incapable of building my pecs. Instead I have perky nubbins. Like what the heck is that about? And my Adam’s apple isn’t even all that visible. All of that doesn’t scream sex appeal,” I said, looking over at Conrad who screamed of sex appeal. Besides his gorgeous body, he had the perfect shade of medium brown hair that he kept short with his bangs a bit longer which he always styled up. Hair I had wanted to run my fingers through so many times before. And his smile, a bit mischievous but always so genuinely happy.

About the Author

Sarah Havan grew up in the Midwest and still actually lives there. She has an appreciation for having all four seasons. She writes all kinds of romance, but most recently has focused on gay romance in her writing.

Social Media Links

Blog/Website

Twitter

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