A Free Dreamer Review: Armistice (The Amberlough Dossier #2) by Lara Elena Donnelly

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Armistice returns to Donnelly’s ravishing 1930s Art Deco-tinged fantasy world of Amberlough with a decadent, tumultuous mixture of sex, politics, and spies.

In a tropical country where shadowy political affairs lurk behind-the-scenes of its glamorous film industry, three people maneuver inside a high stakes game of statecraft and espionage:

Lillian, a reluctant diplomat serving a fascist nation,

Aristide, an expatriate film director running from lost love and a criminal past,

and Cordelia, a former cabaret stripper turned legendary revolutionary.

Each one harbors dangerous knowledge that can upturn a nation. When their fates collide, machinations are put into play, unexpected alliances are built, and long-held secrets are exposed. All is barreling towards an international revolt…and only the wiliest ones will be prepared for what comes next.

First things first: “Armistice” is NOT a stand-alone story. At all. If you haven’t read the first book yet, don’t read this review, as it contains spoilers for book 1.

While “Amberlough” was set in a world similar to Europe, “Armistice” is largely set in a world that’s similar to India. With significant differences, however. The society is mostly matriarchal. Not extremely so, but women are definitely the ones with more power. I always find that an interesting concept and love to explore matriarchal worlds. And once again, the author did not disappoint. The setting was extremely well developed, with lots of little details that made the atmosphere all the more real. As soon as I read the first sentence, I immediately fell into the setting and found it extremely hard to resurface.

The feel of this book is very different from the previous one. It’s still intense, but there’s less action and drama. That doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy this book any less than the first one, it’s just different, quieter somehow. Which is a weird thing to say about a story that features Cordelia Lehane… I loved getting to know her better. Lillian, Cyril’s sister, also made for a very interesting MC. We do get a bit more of Ari, but really, this book is all about the women.

Just like “Amberlough”, we get yet another cliffhanger ending. Endings are hard for me. It’s so easy to ruin an otherwise good book with a crappy ending. And usually I despise cliffhangers, especially if it’s not the first part of a series. But Lara Elena Donnelly writes perfect endings and I actually like her cliffhangers.

Honestly, there’s so much more to say about “Armistice” but somehow I lack the words to express just how awesome this series is. Like, seriously, these two books are among the best I’ve read in a very, very long time and I have a feeling the author might become one of my favourites. Read it. It’s so, so, so worth it. And I might just die from sheer anticipation till part 3 FINALLY gets released.

The cover is gorgeous and matches the first part perfectly. I might just buy book three as a paperback because I finally want one of these amazing covers in my physical bookshelf.

Sales Link:  Amazon

Book details: ebook, 384 pages

Published May 15th 2018 by Tor Books

The Amberlough Dossier Series:

Amberlough

Armistice

Amnesty coming in 2019

A Lucy Audiobook Review: Bromantically Yours by K.C. Wells and Narrator: Daniel Henning

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Nate and Dylan are the joined at the hip kind of friends.  They have been best friends, confidants and support for each other since they were young children. When they get together with their group of friends, they still mostly pay attention to each other, although they don’t realize it.  It is during a night out with what they though would be the group that they end up going further than even the closest friends would.  The blurb is a little misleading because it states “…until the night they share a drunken kiss…” when in actuality it is a drunken handjob that starts it all.  While that part goes just fine, the aftermath not so much.  Nate reacts badly, “Okay, Dylan got that Nate had to be embarrassed as he**, but still, to treat him like some cheap trick…”  I felt bad for Dylan and agreed, I wouldn’t have spent the night on Nate’s couch after that either but they were both just so confused.

I felt like they should have had a little inclination, since they did think of each other as cute, but it is so easy to be oblivious! Their friends, however, were not clueless. “You don’t think there’s something going on here?  Because we sure do. Think about it. When you get good news, who’s the first person you call?  When you’re feeling low, who do you call? Are you telling us that you’ve never noticed how your life revolves around him?”  That takes some thinking.

There really isn’t any problem or angst here.  There is a little tension with a conversation between Nate and his mom but that’s about it.  Otherwise it is a very sweet romance with both of them coming to the realization that they love a man pretty easily.  There is a little concern about losing their friendship but it’s minimal.  Their friends are completely accepting and supportive.

This is the sequel to K.C. Wells Out of the Shadows, which I did not read but didn’t feel as though I were missing any vital information.   One minor peeve was the use of “He did NOT just do that” or “He did NOT just say that.”  It was only five times but, and maybe it was because I was listening to the story, it caught my attention.

Something I definitely liked about this was that the first blow job wasn’t perfect. There was choking and learning about gag reflex.  There was Nate nearly getting kneed in the face and then being unable to work a sixty-nine because he was too distracted by what Dylan’s mouth was doing.  I loved that while both Nate and Dylan went to gay friends about sex, it was Nate the teacher who pulled out a notebook to take notes and who, at a sex shop, bought books.

The narrator, Daniel Henning, did a good job with inflection though could have used a bit more differentiating voices.  Sometimes when I am listening I would lose the thread of who was talking but it didn’t happen often. I liked the narration overall and would listen to this narrator again.

Cover art by Brook Albrecht is very cute and fit the feel of the book.  Two men looking playful with two hearts worked well to capture Nate and Dylan.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Audible | iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Audible Audio, 3 pages
Published June 5th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press (first published February 14th 2018)
Original TitleBromantically Yours
ASINB07DGG8YG8
Edition LanguageEnglish

A MelanieM Review: Murder Book (Boystown 5) by Marshall Thornton

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Rating: 5 plus  stars out of 5

 

In the second of the Boystown mysteries to be a finalist for the Lambda Award, it’s fall 1982 and Chicago is gripped by panic after five people die from poisoned Tylenol capsules. Amid the chaos, the Bughouse Slasher takes his eighth victim, this time striking close to private investigator Nick Nowak.

With the Chicago Police Department stretched to its limit, Nick takes matters into his own hands. But what will he do with the Bughouse Slasher once he finds him.

Just when you think you know how Marshall Thornton will break your heart, his characters and story twists and shatters it in ways you never expected.

That’s what happened in Murder Book, the fifth novel in Marshall Thornton’s Boystown series. In this story, the author lifts a horrific series of murders direct from the  80’s headlines, that of the Tylenol poisonings of 1982 in Chicago.  It changed the pharmaceutical industry and our nation but here Thornton uses it as a narrative framework wherein he place’s another murder investigation ongoing at the same time.  Each investigation has the same parameters.    There have been multiple murders. The race is on to catch the killer before they strike again. But there it stops.

The Tylenol poisoner is high profile.  The search has the backing of many agencies.  It’s victims range from a child to adults and its potential victims could be anyone.  The fear is overwhelming the population and the push to find the culprit enormous.  No expense is being spared.

Then there is the other one.  The smaller investigation.  One that has been all but  forgotten.  That of the Bughouse Slasher who’s targets are young gay men, often found on the streets.  Not victims that the Chicago PD or anyone is pushing to solve their murders especially.  Excerpt for the now ill, ex Det Harker and his lover Nick Novak who have become involved through previous events and Harker’s former  Slasher cases.

Starting from the very first page, everything has come home to Nick Novak.  Its like walking into a wound that’s still tearing open.  And that walking trauma is NIck as we start to live his life.  This story is shocking, heartbreaking, gritty and real.  It will bring together many of the people we have come to know in a relentless search for a killer.

There will be no spoilers here.  Just simply my endless admiration for the author who created such a character, and has stayed true to him, messy life, unbelievable pain, and struggles to continue.  It is unbelievably compelling reading.  Brilliant even to the point that even once through is not enough.

When someone asks you, what are the characters that have made an impact on you, Nick Novak, is on that list.  This story is among the reasons  why as is the series.

Start at the first collection and see why for yourself today.  I highly recommend them all.

Cover art works to brand the series and sets the tone for the story.

Sales Links:Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 184 pages
Published February 6th 2015 (first published April 4th 2013)
ASINB00R0HDAZS
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesBoystown #5
Literary AwardsLambda Literary Award Nominee for Gay Mystery (2013)

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 (PREORDER

An Alisa Review: That’s My Ethan by Tarian PS

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Rating:  3.5 stars out of 5

This is our story, mine and Ethan’s.

It is our story about two gay men, (well, one gay and one bi), beating the false pretenses that gay men can’t know love at first sight, let alone stay together, happily ever after. They are all wrong.

I’m not a gay married man, I’m a happily married gay man.

And I am going to prove it.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

They met in college. Damir was a player in every sense of the word and proud of it– Ethan wanted nothing to do with the game; yet neither would deny the attraction they shared was too potent to resist. So what are two young men to do when the lines are too irresistible not to cross? A safeword.

It was a lifestyle structure that gave them the means to grow together, even as they struggled to understand it along the way. But what never wavered was who they’d set their goals to be with. Sometimes you just know. The challenge is making it possible.

I liked knowing this story is a true story and it wouldn’t be wonderful all the time.  Damir (and his whole frat) are sluts, to put it bluntly, but when he sees Ethan is almost puts everything on pause. Ethan was hurt by his family when they kicked him out and is very cautious about getting involved with anyone.

Damir does change his ways when he really gets a chance to be with Ethan and I could see him determined to do anything to prove himself to him.  Ethan has worked very hard to support himself and finish school and doesn’t want to do anything to take his focus away.

Okay, I liked Ethan and it took me awhile to warm up to Damir and when he cleans his act up he really can be a good guy.  I get this book is based on Damir and Ethan’s life but there were a few things that happened in the book that are big no go’s for me.  There is a bit more “sharing” than I preferred in serious relationship and a scene near the end of the book when they brought a women into their bed and there were way too many descriptors for me.  I did like seeing them navigate their relationship and find love together with real life causing problems even with those things.

The cover art by TPS Publishing is great and I love the visual of Ethan.

Sales Link: Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 231 pages

Published: April 29, 2018

Edition Language: English

In The Contemporary Fiction Spotlight : Cinderella Boy by Kristina Meister (Exclusive Excerpt and Fabulous Giveaway)

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Cinderella Boy by Kristina Meister

Riptide Publishing

Cover Art: Shayne Leighton

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Kristina Meister here today on tour with her new release, Cinderella Boy.  She’s brought an exclusive excerpt and an outstanding  giveaway for all to enter.  Make sure to leave your email address where you can be reached if chosen along with a comment.

About Cinderella Boy

 

Being perfect isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

 

Sixteen-year-old Declan is the perfect son . . . except for one tiny issue. When his sister Delia comes home to find him trying on her clothes, he fears her judgment, but she only fears his fashion choices. One quick makeover later, Declan is transformed into Delia’s mysterious cousin Layla and dragged to the party of the year, hosted by Carter, the most popular boy in school.

 

When Carter meets Layla, he fumbles to charm her. He adores her sense of humor and her poise. But when she vanishes in the middle of the night, he’s left confused and determined to solve the mystery of who she is.

 

As their school year begins, their high school embraces a policy of intolerance, and both Declan and Carter know they must stand up. Carter is tired of being a coward and wants to prove he can be a knight in shining armor. Declan is sick of being bullied and wants desperately to be himself. If they team up, it could be a fairy-tale ending, or a very unhappy ever after.

Exclusive Excerpt

 

“He wants to know if he freaked you out,” Delia said, looking at her phone.

The den was warm despite the air-conditioning. They languished over the huge sectional like a couple of marooned polar bears. Declan watched the blades of the ceiling fan circle, his smooth legs stretched out over her lap. She had lent him one of her tank tops and a pair of denim shorts so that he would feel comfortable during his mental breakdown.

“Gee, I don’t know. Is it customary for your first kiss to make you feel simultaneously amazing and like the shittiest person on earth?”

“So . . . I’ll tell him it’s not him, it’s you?”

Declan covered his face with a pillow. “I can’t go out with him on a date. Number one, it’s wrong. Number two, we don’t have enough prop versatility.”

Dee threw his legs off and slid over so that they were wedged side by side. She had her eBay app open and was scrolling through several listings for his benefit.

“I can have these overnighted,” she whispered in his ear.

“You’re totally instigating.” But the thought stuck, and unconsciously, he began picking through the search. “Wow, they’re really reasonably priced.”

She giggled softly. “I’m so buying them. Call them an early birthday present. It’s the perfect time, because we won’t have to worry about Mom taking the delivery.”

He managed a smile, and then her phone beeped and the message from Carter scrolled across the top of the screen.

“I’m not some horny goof-off. Please don’t Friend-zone me for a thank-you kiss.”

They shared a glance.

“He’s not, you know. He’s extremely focused. He’s in the running for valedictorian. He’s class president. He’s on the swim and track team. And, just in case you were wondering, he’s a really good—”

“No! Do not finish that sentence.”

“We didn’t have sex.”

He gasped. “You dated for two years!”

She shrugged. “Didn’t say we didn’t fool around.”

“Gaaahhh!”

Delia brought up the keyboard. She. Got. The. Message. Calm. The. Eff. Down.

Seconds later, Carter’s reply arrived, laden with exclamation marks and a squinty face. Declan read it and smothered himself with the pillow.

“I ran away because I had second thoughts about dragging him into my life.”

“He says he’s texted your phone like fifty times and he’s sorry if he’s coming off like a stalker, but he got a feeling about you. Ohhh! A feeling. Those are so complicated with him.”

“Gah!”

“There’s really only one way to solve this problem.”

Peeking out, Declan eyed her suspiciously. “What’s that?”

“Carter’s mom only lets him throw these parties because he works his ass off to keep her house in one piece.”

“Okay.”

“Usually, I go over and help. Then the maid service comes in the afternoon.”

“Uh-huh.”

She made a face. “Let me work my magic on you.” She tackled him as he pulled the pillow back over his head, and unmasked him. “Let me dress you casually. We’ll see what he thinks of you in full sunlight, and if he still shows interest, we deal with it. If he thinks better of his new obsession, then there’s no sitch.”

Declan screwed up his face in metaphysical anguish, but he knew he couldn’t say no.

About Kristina Meister

 

Kristina Meister is an author of fiction that blurs genre. There’s usually some myth, some mayhem, and some monsters. While Kristina’s unique voice and creative swearing give life to dialogue, her obsession with folklore and pop culture make for humor and complexity.

 

She and her mad-scientist husband live in California with their poodles Khan and Lana, and their daughter Kira Stormageddon, where they hoard Nerf toys, books, and swords—in case of zombie apocalypse.

 

Connect with Kristina:

 

To celebrate the release of Cinderella Boy, Kristina is giving away a canvas swag bag (with cover art) that  includes a t-shirt, an engraved pen, and a tiara! (Yes, really!) Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on July 7, 2018. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following along, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

Blog Tour for My Crunchy Life by Mia Kerick (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: My Crunchy Life

Author: Mia Kerick

Release Date: 26th June 2018

Genre: LGBT, Young Adult

BLURB

John Lennon fought for world peace, but sixteen-year-old hippie hopeful Kale Oswald’s only made it as far as tie-dying his T-shirts with organic grape juice. Now he’s ready to cement his new hippie identity by joining a local human rights organization, but he doesn’t fit in as well as he’d hoped.

After landing himself in the hospital by washing down a Ziploc bag of pills with a bottle of Gatorade, Julian Mendez came clean to his mother: he is a girl stuck in a boy’s body. Puberty blockers have stopped the maturing of the body he feels has betrayed him. They’re also supposed to give him time to be sure he wants to make a more permanent decision, but he’s already Julia in his heart. What he’s not sure he’s ready to face is the post-transition name-calling and bathroom wars awaiting him at school.

When Kale and Julian come face-to-face at the human rights organization, attraction, teenage awkwardness, and reluctant empathy collide. They are forced to examine who they are and who they want to become. But until Kale can come to terms with his confusion about his own sexuality and Julian can be honest with Kale, they cannot move forward in friendship, or anything more.

Find My Crunchy Life at Goodreads

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Harmony Ink

 

EXCERPT

Julian, 4: 00 p.m.

On my first day back to school after the incident, Sydney Harper, a junior from the right side of the tracks, cut me off in the hallway by the gym and got up in my face. “You didn’t really wanna die. My mother said it was just some kind of pathetic cry for help.” Having made her point, she spun around on her Ugg-booted nonheel and headed for the girls’ locker room.

Then in precalc, some guy I barely knew poked me hard in the back with a Sharpie marker, and I was the lucky recipient of another dose of compassion. “You just crave attention, don’t you, girly-boy?”

Maybe, on some level, they were both right.

But on that night in October when I decided my best move in life would be to wash down the last of the Extra Strength Tylenol in our medicine cabinet with a bottle of Citrus Cooler Gatorade, I knew I couldn’t lose, however it turned out. The alternative to my clever plan to get some attention, and maybe even a measure of help, was that I’d fall asleep and never wake up— which, in my opinion, served just fine as Plan B.

If nobody heard my “cry for help” and I checked out, we’d probably all be better off. No real harm done… except to Mama. But the freaking UPS man heard my “pathetic cry,” or more accurately saw my apparently lifeless torso hanging from the tree house in the side yard, and saved me.

 

GIVEAWAY: WIN $15 Amazon Gift Card

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About the Author

Mia Kerick is the mother of four exceptional children—a daughter in law school, another in dance school, a third studying at Mia’s alma mater, Boston College, and her lone son still in high school. She writes LGBTQ romance when not editing National Honor Society essays, offering opinions on college and law school applications, helping to create dance bios, and reviewing English papers. Her husband of twenty-four years has been told by many that he has the patience of Job, but don’t ask Mia about this, as it is a sensitive subject.

Mia focuses her stories on emotional growth in turbulent relationships. As she has a great affinity for the tortured hero, there is, at minimum, one in each book. As a teen, Mia filled spiral-bound notebooks with tales of said tortured heroes (most of whom happened to strongly resemble lead vocalists of 1980s big-hair bands) and stuffed them under her mattress for safekeeping. She is thankful to Dreamspinner Press and Harmony Ink Press for providing alternate places to stash her stories.

Her books have won a Best YA Lesbian Rainbow Award, a Reader Views’ Book by Book Publicity Literary Award, the Jack Eadon Award for Best Book in Contemporary Drama, an Indie Fab Award, and a Royal Dragonfly Award for Cultural Diversity, among other awards.

Mia is a Progressive, a little bit too obsessed by politics, and cheers for each and every victory in the name of human rights. Her only major regret: never having taken typing or computer class in school, destining her to a life consumed with two-fingered pecking and constant prayer to the Gods of Technology.

Contact Mia at miakerick@gmail.com. Visit her website for updates on what is going on in Mia’s world, rants, music, parties, and pictures, and maybe even a little bit of inspiration.

Links: Facebook | Twitter