A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review:Something Like Forever (Something Like #11) by Jay Bell

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

It’s a shame that there’s no way to squeak a higher rating than 5 in a 5-star rating system, but if there were, I’d give this story at least a 10.  It’s everything I’d hoped for and more.  I’m going to attempt to do this review without spoilers, so if some of the things I write seem vague, my advice is to run to your e-book reader and get this downloaded.  Immediately. 

Jay Bell gives us lots more of Ben and Tim. Who knew that this couple, with whom we’ve become very familiar over the course of the series, could still have many surprises for us and would continue to demonstrate a solid love and commitment to one another—one that would indeed last forever?  During this story, the men have had the wedding William and Jason gave them at the end of <i>Something Like Rain</i>, and they now react to the SCOTUS ruling on same sex marriage when it comes, and they ultimately find a way to hold their own private ceremony, sealing their love and commitment to forever.   

Have the tissues ready because we witness the death of Chinchilla, Ben’s faithful bulldog, and we face a life-threatening illness for one of our favorite couple.   We get to learn the outcome of Jason’s trip to Astoria to see William (<i>Something Like Rain</i>) since that ended on somewhat of a cliffhanger, and we have an opportunity to visit the clearing in Warrensburg where Jace spread Victor’s ashes and Ben, in turn, later spread Jace’s.  Ben has learned that Nathaniel is Victor’s son and has done his best to impart as much knowledge, gleaned from his time with Jace, as possible so that Nathaniel can learn a bit about the father he never knew.  To make it complete, he even takes him to that special clearing that he’s previously never shared with anyone so Nathaniel can connect with Victor.  It also gives Ben time to spend a few quiet moments of reflection with Jace. 

Throughout the story, though the principal couple is Ben and Tim, the author reinforces Ben’s love for Jace.  I love how he conveyed the spirit of Jace, in part through dreams and in part through memories, and I loved the way Tim always reiterated that Jace would be a part of their lives forever.  Tim is more than okay with that and is totally accepting of his role in Ben’s life.  It’s difficult for me to put this whole subplot into words, but suffice it to say, the author conveyed it beautifully. 

Speaking of Jace, he visits Ben’s dreams throughout the years—an interesting concept of how we can stay in touch with our loved ones who have passed on to heaven.  I enjoyed their time together in Ben’s dreams and recollections, and I especially liked the little hints Jace threw that later helped Ben resolve a problem—or find a missing cell phone. 🙂

Marcello is present front and center, and in the early part of the story, he’s convinced Tim to help set up a special museum for artists in Tokyo, where Tim meets Corey, a young man who had a crush on him in high school.  Missing Ben so much after six weeks apart takes a toll on his libido, <spoiler>but I’m happy to share that Tim remained faithful to Ben. Thank you, Jay Bell!</spoiler>

I really appreciated the epilogue, which is approximately fifty years in the future.  I not only enjoyed the follow-up on the characters still living and those who are now deceased, but I loved the twist the author gave to technology changes.  Imagine being able to have a health screening in the home through use of a device similar to a television.  Having witnessed a host of changes throughout my own life, I have no doubt this could easily happen. 

And last but not least, I must say that although I sobbed out loud at the ending of Ben and Tim’s tale, I have no regrets.  There’s joy in my heart from having known this beautiful couple and the author’s gentle handling, again with some humor, of the end of the story was absolutely perfect.  I can’t begin to recommend this series, and in particular this last book, highly enough.  It truly is outstanding!  Thank you for bringing this to us, Jay Bell.  You are exceptionally gifted. 

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1 edition, 354 pages
Published December 13th 2017 by Jay Bell (first published December 5th 2017)
Original Title Something Like Forever
ASINB077WCB7JN
Edition Language English
Series Something Like #11

A Caryn Release Day Review: Devouring Flame by E.J. Russell

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I have been looking forward to this book since Smith was introduced in Nudging Fate, the first of the Enchanted Occasions series.  This book is not a stand alone, although the MC’s from the first book do not show up outside of brief remembrances in this one.  Smith was one of the most intriguing of the talented group of outcasts running the event planning business, and after his one night stand with the ifrit, I knew we would see him again.

The setting is a year after the faerie wedding in the first book, and Enchanted Occasions has survived, and even thrived a little bit.  But not so much that they can afford to turn down a request from the North American sector vampires to manage their Centennial Feast.  Unfortunately, the Centennial Feast can only be hosted in the Las Vegas Interstices, a place of continuous twilight and ambiguous morals.  Vegas has terrible memories for Smith, who had languished there for decades before he was hired by Enchanted Occasions.  But there was another reason Smith was apprehensive about Vegas…

Hashim is the ifrit who appeared at the Faerie Prince’s coronation with the dastardly plot cooked up by the Faerie Queen, which was foiled by the employees of Enchanted Occasions.  Instead of seducing and capturing the prince, Hashim ended up spending a glorious night with Smith, where they connected so completely that Smith told Hashim his true name – and for Smith, as a fire demon, the owner of his true name has incredible power over him.  Hashim left without giving his true name in return, which Smith could only regard as betrayal of the worst sort.  When Smith passed through Vegas and saw Hashim performing in a circus sideshow, all of the anger, sadness, and dread came back.  Hashim was the last person he wanted to see, and being forced to interact with him to arrange the Centennial Feast was agonizing.  In part because despite what he felt was Hashim’s treachery, Smith still wanted him, as the only other being he ever felt so complete with.

Hashim felt much the same about Smith, but his circumstances were much more dire than he was willing to admit.  His very nature was something Smith had never considered – remember that classic line from Disney’s Aladdin?  “PHENOMENAL COSMIC POWER!  Itty bitty living space…”  Hashim had almost no control over his life, and his master, Ringmaster, was cruel and corrupt.  When Smith finally understood the situation, he decided to fix it, because he was the guy that got shit done.

There was definitely a darker twist to this book than there was to the first one, with themes of slavery and exploitation, and the victim’s response to them, probed from both sides.  It is always difficult for someone on the outside to understand how an abuse victim could ever think that their abuse is deserved, and both Hashim’s rationale and Smith’s response to it were well done.  And there was of course the usual humor and banter, provided primarily by the incredible case of secondary characters.  The goblin-berserker Chef was especially good, as were the vampires and all the jokes about them in this post-Twilight era.  And for those who wondered how Rion could possibly be so sweet and innocent, the answer was both surprising and absolutely adorbs.  That was one of my favorite parts of the book!  The search for and discovery of Hashim’s true name was disappointing though, and the primary reason I didn’t give the book 5 stars.  Still, I hope there will be more to come in this universe in the future!

Cover art by Aaron Anderson shows a great model for Smith, but I would have loved to see Hashim in there as well.

Sales Links:

Dreamspinner Press

Amazon: http://ejr.pub/devouring-flame-amz

Other: http://ejr.pub/devouring-flame-b2r

Publisher: http://ejr.pub/fb-devouring-flame

 

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 176 pages
Expected publication: January 8th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press
ASINB07JZ5WPR8

 

An Alisa Release Day Review: Unfamiliar Waters by Andrew Grey

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

With the pressures of the job bearing down on him, police officer Garrett Wreckley needs a vacation—in fact, he isn’t given a choice in the matter. Since the water has always soothed Garrett’s soul, he heads to the Caribbean, hoping some time alone sailing on the open water will help him pull himself together.

But even though he’s taking a break from law enforcement, Garrett can’t get rid of his cop’s instinct so easily.

He meets Nigel, a young man as innocent as he is beautiful, who grew up sheltered from the world, exploring the beaches and tropical forests with only the company of his aunt, his brother, and the wildlife and sea creatures he befriended.

As sweet, passionate love blooms, their time in paradise feels too good to be true… and Garrett’s gut and training tell him that might be the case. As he investigates, he quickly realizes everything is not as it seems. Will his snooping destroy not only their romance, but everything Nigel believes about his life?

 

This story was nice.  Garrett has been working himself ragged and gets put on vacation when he starts to make mistakes on the job.  Nigel is very innocent and sweet which is like sunshine to Garrett’s world.

 

Nigel’s story sets off all of Garrett’s warning bells and it gets worse when he finds out what is really happening.  Underneath though Nigel is much stronger than Garrett first gave him credit for.

 

I loved Garrett’s determination to help Nigel and his brother no matter what, even if in the end Nigel doesn’t choose him.  The story is told from Garrett’s point of view so we just see Nigel from the outside but it’s easy to see how he fell for him so fast.  There was quite a bit of Nigel doubting how Garrett was feeling but much of that I think came from inexperience.

The cover art by Kanaxa is nice and I like the visuals.

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | B&N

Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages

Published: January 8, 2019 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN-13: 978-1-64080-964-2

Edition Language: English

Robert P. Rowe On Book Covers, Concept , and his new release Gabriel and the Devil (author guest post and excerpt)

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Gabriel and the Devil by Robert P. Rowe

Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Tiferet Design

Buy Links:  Dreamspinner Press  |   Amazon   |   Apple Books 

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Robert P. Rowe here today talking about his new story Gabriel and the Devil and how it’s cover developed.  Welcome, Robert!

 

How do you choose your cover?

Dreamspinner Press has a whole art department dedicated to cover design and interior layout. When I first started with DSP they solicited a lot of feedback from writers about their books. In my case that was easy. I’m an art director. I knew exactly what my covers needed to look like. But most writers aren’t art directors too. Most don’t have a great idea of what they want their cover to look like.

Recently, DSP has changed their cover design process. They say, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” But everyone does. So the DSP marketing department has stepped in to play a stronger role in cover design. At the 2018 DSP Writer’s Workshop the new process was introduced along with a large sampling of covers.

The audience was thrilled. They saw covers so inspiring that they wanted to write books to go along with the covers.

In the case of Gabriel and the Devil I had a very clear picture of what my main characters should look like. But the art and marketing department had different ideas—two to be exact. I was shown two covers created by Anna Sikorska. The cover that DSP marketing liked the best was bright and colorful, but the cover model looked sad. In fact the whole cover seemed a bit of a downer to me.

The alternative cover was very close to the cover that I chose. This cover tells so many stories. Main character, Gabriel, is very uncertain about his life and ultimately about his beliefs. The cover model wears and expression that perfectly fits this character. But the first version of the devil, Marcello, looked sad too. When I pointed out that this character is fun loving and should be smiling he came back with an evil looking grin. But finally we were able to get just the right look. There needed to be a wink to the readers letting them know that this story is fun. Perhaps it’s a bit of devilish fun, but it’s fun.

Best of all the cover is bold and striking. The devil is contrasted on a white background while the angel is on a black background. The image not only contrasts good and evil, it also is very reminiscent of the yin and yang symbol. In fact that is an underlying message in the story: “Evil brings out the best in people.”

Gabriel and the Devil blurb:

Flirting with the devil can lead to a helluva good time.

Gabriel is a regular angel. The former altar boy plans to graduate from college, become an accountant, get a good job, find a wife, and live a faithful Catholic life.

But one Halloween night, the devil pops in out of nowhere, challenges everything he believes, and heats up Gabriel’s lonely life.

Marcello is full of the devil. He’s lusted after Gabriel forever, but what he really wants is Gabriel’s eternal soul. Still, his mischievous sense of humor, along with his tricks and jokes, leads to a misunderstanding that could condemn him to hell on Earth. Only the truth will let these souls find true love and happiness.

 

A Very Short Except:

“You don’t know God at all, Gabriel.”

“Really?”

“Really. God is love—eternal, unconditional love. There are no exceptions, and that includes his love for Satan.”

“God hates sin.”

“Your God. Let me tell you a little story about the real God. This is a story that they won’t teach you in catechism. I can’t say it happened a long time ago because there was no such thing as time when it happened. There was only God and his angels. And all eternity was light and good.

“God knew everything there was to know. And he was bored. He wanted to learn more. So he went to his angels, whom he loved unconditionally, with a proposal. He needed one of his angels to rule over darkness. Now his angels all loved him so much that they would have done anything he asked. Of course, his angels had no idea what darkness was, but if God needed an angel to take charge over it, he wasn’t exactly short on volunteers.

“But before Lucifer got the job, God explained what the position entailed. You see, Gabriel, all light and goodness isn’t enough. There has to be contrast or you have nothing. You, my dear soul, can’t only be good because you’ll never get a chance to learn. God needed the darkness so he could learn more. And trust me, darkness, evil, and bad things only bring out the best in people.”

Author Bio:

Robert P. Rowe has spent his entire career as a storyteller making an incredible leap from Disneyland ride operator to show-designer and art director at Walt Disney Imagineering. Immersive storytelling presents a distinctive challenge unlike that of live theater, film, radio, or print media. He is currently on staff as an art director for Universal Orlando. His many other works can be found around the world, primarily in Disney and Universal Studios parks.

His “real” job takes up much of his time, but his active imagination can’t stop dreaming up new stories. Whenever time permits, he’s writing about new characters off on their own incredible journeys.

Additionally, his outside interests include all aspects of architecture, with a specific fascination for the theatrical design of homes from midcentury movies and television. He has a keen enthusiasm for midcentury science fiction.

Website 

Website: www.robertprowe.com

New Book Blitz for My Fake Canadian Wife by M. Hollis (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: My Fake Canadian Wife

Author: M. Hollis

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: January 7, 2019

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 25600

Genre: Contemporary, LGBT, lesbian, student, waitress, photographer, holidays, immigrant, Brazil, Canada, fake marriage

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

When Dora receives a letter from the immigration service in Canada saying she will be deported soon, as her visa is expiring, a friend suggests she marry a woman. Since she doesn’t currently have a girlfriend, faking a relationship might be her only option since she can’t muster the desire to return to school for advanced photograph studies.

Abby is a reserved librarian who seems enthusiastic about helping with the marriage plan. As the two girls get to know each other through dates in snowy Toronto and meeting Abby’s family for Christmas, Dora starts to wonder how much of this relationship they are faking and how much is real.

Excerpt

My Fake Canadian Wife
M. Hollis © 2019
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
My hands shook around the letter, the words blurring before my eyes. This couldn’t be happening. Not to me. Almost two years living in Toronto, without any complications, and now I received notice I was going to be deported. Thrown out of the place I was learning to love as my own. And honestly? I was to blame for missing the expiration date on my student visa.

Now, I had to race against time to legalize my immigrant status, or I’d have to go back to Brazil. To a home I barely thought about anymore.

I sat on the couch, letting the letter fall to my lap. I was screwed. Completely screwed.

My roommate, Julie, came out of her room, stopping in her tracks to give me a curious glance. “Geez, you look like someone died,” she said. “Don’t you have to go to work?”

When I didn’t say anything, Julie gave up and walked to the kitchen. I heard mugs being moved around and cupboards opening and closing. A few seconds later, she came back, a small frown creasing her forehead.

Julie was a cute tomcat bisexual girl who was into indie movies, the ones with barely any dialogue, where one watched people live through a vintage faded screen. Some of them were actually nice, if one was in the right mood to understand its meaning behind the many layers of subtext.

Technically, the apartment we shared belonged to her. She was the rich kid of a famous Canadian producer, and her mother was a well-known director in the Toronto film community, so her family paid for most of her expenses. Or, well, now our living conditions. I couldn’t really complain since I had a bedroom to myself, a cozy living room, and a kitchen large enough for more than two people to move around comfortably.

What more could a girl like me ask for in life?

Right, citizenship.

“Okay, please tell me no one actually died,” Julie said, her bangs falling in front of her dark eyes.

I shook my head, finally coming back to myself and jumped from the couch. “I need to go to work.”

“Well, you can still get there in time.” And then Julie was back to her morning coffee rituals.

I had a life to take care of. This situation wasn’t going to fix itself if I sat around, missed work, and stared at this letter all day. I moved quickly, shoved the letter into my backpack before grabbing my keys and my bike helmet.

“Have a good day!” Julie said from the kitchen as I opened the door. “And be careful with the traffic.”

I rolled my eyes at her worry. Julie had been struck by a car last year when she was biking around the city, and now she believed bicycles were monsters from hell, instead of realizing drivers can be the real assholes. She even tried to get rid of my red beauty, but I obviously didn’t let her touch my baby.

“Don’t worry! You have a good day too,” I said as I closed the door behind me.

Racing down the stairs, I almost tripped over someone. I took a step back, cursing to myself when I caught a glimpse of dark blonde hair. It was our neighbor from downstairs, Carol.

“Hi, Dora,” Carol said with a sly smile. “Haven’t seen you in a while.”

She played with her hair in a flirtatious way, leaning closer. I tried to get past her, but she was quicker and trapped me against the wall.

So maybe I had slept with our super-hot neighbor when I had just moved in and desperately needed to get laid. I still regretted the decision. Not that the sex was bad, but Carol didn’t seem to get the message that casual sex with her wasn’t something I was going to make a habit of.

I pushed past her to gain a little breathing space. “You know how it is. Super busy with work and life.”

Carol’s mouth formed a little pout. “If you ever have free time, you know where to find me. I’m right under you.” She winked at me and waved before saying, “Bye, bye,” and walked the last steps to her floor, swaying her hips suggestively.

I blinked a few times, trying to bring myself back to reality. Work. I needed to get to work. I ran the last steps, opened the garage door, grabbed my bike, and left the building.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

M. Hollis could never decide what to do with her life. From the time she was a child, she has changed her ideas for a career hundreds of times. After writing in hidden notebooks during classes and daydreaming during every spare moment of her day, she decided to fully dedicate herself to her stories. When she isn’t scrolling around her social media accounts or reading lots of femslash fanfiction, you’ll find her crying about female characters and baking cookies.

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