A MelanieM Review: Earnest Ink by Alex Hall

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Rating:: 4.5 stars out of 5

While twenty-year-old FTM Hemingway is making an excellent living as a tattoo artist in a near-future version of Hell’s Kitchen, the rest of the country is splintered and struggling in the wake of a war gone on for too long. Technology has collapsed, borders rise and fall overnight, and magic has awakened without rhyme, reason, or rule, turning average unwitting citizens into wielders of strange and specific strands of magic.

Hemingway’s particular brand of magic has made him a household name. Not only is he a talented artist, but his work comes to life. Literally.

When NYC’s most infamous serial killer—the East River Ripper—abducts Hemingway’s best friend, Grace, he has only days to save her. Hemingway teams up with his stoic cop roommate to hunt for the killer and rescue Grace before she becomes the Ripper’s latest victim. But as the duo chase clues to the serial killer’s identity, Hemingway begins to fear the magic he and the Ripper share might eventually corrupt him too.

I am always enthusiastic about the stories that flow out of the mind of author Alex Hall because I know the tales will be imaginative, with twists and turns, marvelous characters with attention to details in personality and background, and as it demonstrated here, a fabulous ability to deliver a world of magic realism so very believable that i fell into it from the first page.

Earnest Ink by Alex Hall is a story that builds slowly as we get to know the characters and the world they now inhabit, one that changed drastically within their own lifetimes.  Changing their worlds and in some cases themselves fundamentally.  It’s a story revealed in pieces, pulled back in layers, as the current days events take place and our characters rush forward towards mysteries and crises that will have permanent impact on everyone.

The people encountered from the focal person of famous tattoo artist Hemingway are as incredibly complex as Hemingway is.. That extends to the roles they may play in Hemingway’s life, which may change direction or impact in a blink.  Who is trustworthy and who is not is always up for discussion.  Throw in the hunt for a gruesome killer, Jack the  Ripper, along with other mysteries, and you have a gripping thriller with tiny hints of a possible future  romance and an open ended future for all.

And that is the only thing that keeps this book from five stars.  The air of expectation for something more at the end.  A need for continuing on, that so much remains to be done or is left to be finished for everyone here.  I almost felt as though we were at 3/4 th of the story or perhaps that I should be able to sail quickly onto another book.  I was most not ready to leave this world and characters behind.

Love magic realism?  In need of a great new story to read?  I highly recommend Earnest Ink by Alex Hall.  I’m still thinking about the characters and their lives, and hoping that Hall will return to them once more for an update.

Cover art:  Natasha Snow.  A beautiful cover with a major element towards the ending.

Sales Links:    NineStar Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook
Published October 14th 2019 by NineStar Press
ISBN139781951057121
Edition Language English

A Stella Review: Socks for an Otter by Posy Roberts

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RATING 3,5 out of 5 stars

He fell from his ivory tower and landed in the gutter… But Sebastian would rather be homeless and hungry than clueless.On his way to the food pantry, a guy on his cell phone runs into him and triggers his prickly side. As a sign of goodwill, Louis offers to cook for him. But all Sebastian sees is the privilege he used to have.
This isn’t a fairytale. Louis isn’t Prince Charming. And Sebastian can make it on his own.But it’s been days since he’s had a hot meal. And a blizzard is coming.Will Sebastian’s pride be his appetizer?

Socks for an Otter is a heartwarming riches-to-rags MM romance brewed with hurt/comfort, comedy, a second chance at love, age gap, millionaires, and men from different worlds who will give you all the feels.

I waited so long fo a new story by Posy Roberts I was so happy to see this new release, moreover a Christmas one, which I’m a sucker for. And then I read the blurb and thought she couldn’t have picked a better theme. I have read so many books, still I actually can’t remember one with an homeless character that was so well done, full of details and everyday little struggles we take for granted each minute of our lives. I so appreciated to be able to follow Sebastian, and Javon too, when they were looking for work and food,  I learned about what kind of food was more filling and right for fighting the cold. And then there were the socks, some of the scenes and talks about the socks truly got to my heart.

Socks for an Otter felt very real to me, the author did an awesome job at portraying the everyday life of homeless people, without turning the book into something too heavy. Seb and Louis pasts and presents caught my heart from the beginning, still the story is packed with a sense of hope that enlightened the reading.

That said I am not giving the novel an higher rating because I didn’t feel strongly the main characters. I loved them dearly, they were smart, strong, positives, even though they went through unthinkable events. I liked their souls and disposition to help the others. But from the first time they met it seemed to me something was missing, I didn’t feel a connection, a click between them. And till the ending I hoped for it but I couldn’t find it.

The cover art by Black Jazz Design is awesome, I love the colors, the font, the model, so perfect.

SALE LINKS  Amazon

BOOK DETAILS

Kindle Edition, 270 pages

Published December 17th 2019 by Boho Press

ASIN B082PTX7NP

Edition Language English

99c Book Blast with Excerpt for Little Red (Big Bad Wolves Book One) by Queenie Wise

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99c BOOK BLAST

Book Title: Little Red (Big Bad Wolves Book One)

 Author: Queenie Wise

Publisher: Self-Published

Cover Artist: Reese Dante

Genre/s: Paranormal M/M Romance 

Trope/s: Enemies to lovers, Hurt/Comfort 

Themes: Werewolves, Coming Out

Heat Rating: 2.5 flames

Length: 117 500 words/351 pages

This is the first book in a series.

It is on sale for $0.99 for a limited time (Dec 27 – 31)

to celebrate the release of its sequel on December 27, 2019

Add on Goodreads 

 

 

Big, sexy werewolves + sassy, gay protagonist + fun worldbuilding = Little Red!

Blurb

Peter “Penis” Caldwell (nickname bestowed courtesy of popular jock, Jackson Davis) didn’t necessarily have a lot of things going for him.

  1. See “Penis”.
  2. He attended high school in a small town that was as bigoted as it was boring. (Having the audacity to stand out was considered a major character flaw.)
  3. He was maybe, sort of, a little bit (a lot) gay. Not that anyone knew that last one.

None of that meant, however, that Peter was prepared for the consequences when he is bitten by a giant wolf during a reckless night of teenage adventure.

Consequences that smack him right in the face when he is simultaneously saved and snatched by a (hugely-muscled, obscenely handsome)… mentally-imbalanced man who’s convinced that he’s a long-distance relation of Jacob Black. That’s right: werewolf.

Mr. Big and Bad claims Peter is one, too, now that he’s bitten him.

The only thing worse than being kidnapped by a crazy person? A crazy person who’s right.

Forced to adjust to pack life in a hidden society, Peter’s not sure what he longs to do more: throttle the man who’s bitten him and ruined his life so conclusively, or throw himself on Mr. Big and Bad’s ridiculously firmlap.

Yeah, lap

 

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited 

99c for a limited time (Dec 27 – 31)

Amazon US  |  Amazon UK

 

Excerpt 

​For the first time in his life, Peter realized that people had ​scents​. He wasn’t referring to the funky smell that always followed around his history teacher, Mr. Herbert, or even the flowery perfumes that his mother often saturated herself in.

No, people had scents beneath all that.

Like his dad, who smelled a bit like worn leather, or his mom, whose natural fragrance more closely resembled lemons.

Not everyone had a pleasant aroma, however. Jackson’s smell, for example, was putrid – not unlike the stink of sour milk.

No one’s scent was overpowering, and Peter often only caught whiffs of people as they walked by – and that was only when he put his mind to doing so. It was when he spent a lot of time with people, like his parents, or even Scott, who smelled a little like freshly cut grass underneath his Axe body spray, that he really noticed it.

Peter sighed, forcefully pulling himself from his thoughts. He couldn’t be certain, of course, but none of the books his parents – mostly his mom – had bought for him and his older sister about puberty mentioned the strange ability to ​smell​ other people. (He knew because he’d wasted an entire half hour searching the section about body odor.)

Realizing that as he had daydreamed, the sun had risen (and the heat index along with it), Peter glanced down to discover he had sweat through his shirt. Yanking his ear buds out of his ears and stuffing them into his pocket along with his MP3 player, Peter began tugging his shirt off his head.

He probably should have stopped running to do it. But he didn’t.

Which was why, shirt blocking his vision, Peter completely missed the man who suddenly appeared in front of him. By the time he had yanked the shirt completely off, it was too late, and he collided full speed into him.

He didn’t even have time to brace himself. One second, he was running, and the next, he was practically ricocheting off the solid mass of the man’s chest, his body flying backwards. It was a battle to stay upright– a battle he was losing – until firm hands grasped his hips and righted him, allowing Peter’s equilibrium to return to him.

An embarrassed flush bursting across his cheeks, Peter quickly stepped out of the man’s grasp, finally getting a good look at him, and… ​oh.

Jesus.

He’d almost plowed down a god, or a half-god, or ​something,​ because there was no way it was possible to be that naturally good-looking without having a parent named Aphrodite.

The handsome stranger – the man was definitely a stranger, Peter would know if he had seen ​this particular face before – had perfectly symmetrical features. He had an attractive nose and strong jaw, and his face was framed by dark, disheveled hair, longer on the top than it was on the sides.

Not only was the man absurdly handsome, he was also tall (​well​ over six feet), and judging by the way his shirt-sleeves bulged, he was positively covered in lithe muscle.

Which you are very rudely staring at,​ a voice in the back of Peter’s head pointed out. Unfortunately, jerking his eyes away from the display of tanned muscle only served as a reminder that Peter’s less-muscled body was also on parade.

“I-I wasn’t,” Peter stuttered, clutching his shirt to his chest like an old lady holding a rosery in church, “I mean, I ​was​… and then you, and I… I’m really sorry!” he eventually managed to spit out.

Determined not to embarrass himself any further – because apparently people related to Greek gods made him a little tongue-tied – Peter directed his gaze to the ground.

“Are you alright?”

Half-expecting to have been ignored, or worse, laughed at, Peter was taken off-guard by the concern-laced question. (It didn’t help that it was asked in such a cultured timbre. Peter had no idea it was possible to be physically attracted to a voice until that very moment.)

Unable to resist, he allowed his gaze to flicker back up. And promptly froze.

Peter had been so preoccupied with the man’s handsome features earlier that he had somehow missed the most striking of them all: his eyes.

Framed by black lashes, they were an intense blue. Peter’s poetry-obsessed mother would have probably called them sapphire or cobalt or something equally fanciful. But their color wasn’t what had Peter’s entire body tensing.

No, that was due to the fact that the eyes were strangely familiar. Like Peter had seen them somewhere before.

Except Peter was completely certain he had never laid eyes on this man before.

For one hare-brained moment, he thought of the pair of eyes that had been haunting his dreams for over a week now. ​They’re the same​, his subconscious all but screamed at him, ​they’re the same!

But that was ridiculous.

The eyes in his dream were red. And they belonged to a wolf. They weren’t blue and set in the face of a Michelangelo statue come to life. A statue that was currently frowning at him, a troubled crease in his brow. “Well, are you?”

Peter blinked. “Am I…?” “Are you alright?”

Oh.

That’s right.

The man had asked Peter a question, and instead of answering it like a normal person, Peter had just stared rudely.

Face burning, he half-wished the ground would open up and swallow him whole. “Yeah! Fine. Great. Dandy, even.” ​Dandy? What. the. hell.​ “It’s not like I fell or anything.” Although Peter wasn’t so sure he hadn’t somehow concussed himself by running into the man’s chest of solid muscle, what with his mouth moving without consent from his brain and all. “I mean, you stopped me before I could. Fall, that is. Grabbed me by the waist, which would usually be sort of creepy, in a bad-touch way, but, I mean, you’re obviously not… you wouldn’t… you know what? I’m just going to shut up now.”

By the time Peter had finished inserting both his feet firmly in his mouth, the man’s frown had increased in severity. He seemed confused.

You and me both, buddy.

After a moment, he just shook his head. “You should really watch where you’re going,” he said somberly.

Yeah, can’t be smacking into god-like entities every time I take my shirt off,​ Peter thought sarcastically. What he actually said was: “I’ll do that.”

“See that you do. You never know when you might run into… someone dangerous.”

For some reason, a shiver tingled down Peter’s spine at the remark. It wasn’t a​ scared​ shiver. Sure, the statement could have been threatening – Peter had just run smack into ​this​ man, after all – but somehow, it was something… ​else.

Peter found himself staring again, almost involuntarily, into the man’s eyes. Dark blue drilled right back into muted green. It was a staring contest Peter was desperate not to lose for reasons beyond his grasp.

 

About the Author

 

Queenie Wise is a happily married mother of four. (Yes, that is four ​human ​children.)

When she is not busy wiping noses or magically kissing away “boo-boo”’s, she is obsessing over M/M romance. Original stories, fanfiction; she reads it all. She is especially fond of sassy protagonists and huge, burly love interests who have tough-as-nails exteriors, but are actually giant marshmallows on the inside. She loves all the tropes: hurt/comfort, enemies to lovers, and May/December being some of her favorites.

Although Queenie began her writing career as a M/F author (under a different pen name), she has recently returned to her true passion: M/M.

While she has a penchant for torturing her favorite characters, all of her stories feature HEA’s. Just because there are not enough of them in the real world doesn’t mean the fictional world should be denied.

(In other words, Queenie is as soft and gooey on the inside as her giant, marshmallow men.)

 

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