A Free Dreamer Review: Out of Time (Out of Time #5) by C.B. Lewis

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

For Ben Sanders—traitor, thief, and temporal orphan—time is running out.

After three years as a fugitive, with the police task force led by Lysander O’Donohue and Jacob Ofori hot on his heels, Ben has to resort to desperate measures to evade capture and find the key to locating his missing father, lost in time for over two decades. With secrets and conspiracies at every turn, the net grows ever tighter around him.

Haunted by the people he betrayed, the loved ones he left behind, and the lives he ruined, it’s too late to stop now. But no matter what Ben does, there’s no escaping his past.

With this exciting conclusion to the Out of Time series, it is recommended to read the first four books for full enjoyment.

After reading parts three and four, I was really excited about Out of Time. It wasn’t quite as awesome as the other two books, but still pretty good.

Like I said above, I didn’t read part one and two and I think you’re fine without them. But I really think you should at least read part four before you read this final installment, because a lot of what happened in the previous book is important for what’s going on now.

First of all, I want to say that I love how diverse Lewis’ cast of characters is. I mean, where do you find a Muslim woman wearing a hijab in a position of power? I’ve certainly never read about one ever. And it’s all so effortless. Some books have a lot of different sexual orientations in them and they make it obvious that the author tried really hard to make their cast diverse and it just doesn’t feel natural at all. But Lewis is the complete opposite. Of course you need a whole bunch of different people if you’re gonna do time travel, there’s a ton of interesting places to visit, all over the world.

There’s definitely more drama, angst and action than in book four, but somehow it still wasn’t quite as suspenseful. That doesn’t mean it was boring in any way, it was just a tiny bit easier to put the book down when I had to.

After the end of book four, I most definitely didn’t see this relationship coming. I totally bought into the act Ben and Enoch came up with. But it all makes sense now and they worked really well together. Their sex was really hot.

Enoch is so hilarious and such an awesome guy. And he has a great way of handling Ben when Ben needs him. I immediately took a liking to him.

Ben is very different. He’s not in a good place and my heart really went out to him. His life hasn’t been easy and being on the run constantly is certainly taking its toll on him.

There was some time travel, with a few unexpected results, but nothing lengthy. I almost missed it a little bit.

The ending was a bit too much for me. There was this extremely perfect HEA for everybody involved and after everything that happened, it just didn’t seem all that realistic. Well, as realistic as a story about time travel can ever be…

Overall, I’m sad this series is over and I’m glad I still have the first two books that I will need to read eventually. I think Lewis had a really unique approach to time travel and I really enjoyed what I’ve read so far.

The cover by Natasha Snow is essentially the same as the others in the series. The protagonists in front of a modern city background. Still not a huge fan of the concept, but not horrible either.

Sales Links:

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

Book details:

ebook, 350 pages

Published January 20th 2020 by NineStar Press

A MelanieM Review: Ted of the d’Urbervilles by Rob Rosen

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Ted is an orphan, a young gay man living on the streets following the death of both his parents. Hope seems futile, though hope is exactly what he finds when a surprising email informs him that an unknown wealthy relative has died, that a reading of a will is soon to occur clear across the country. Ted will inherit something, but what that something is remains to be seen.

Benny is a young, homeless drug addict, straight except for when cash is involved. Benny has never had a reason to be hopeful about anything until a chance encounter with Ted.

Both men are soon traveling together from state to state, making ends meet however they can, rushing to the reading of the will that may or may not change both their lives forever. An unexpected friendship quickly forms, and then just as unexpectedly blossoms into something more as their adventure ultimately leads them to their fates.

At turns darkly funny and tragic, deeply erotic and poignant, Ted of the d’Urbervilles uniquely shines a light on the phrase “Love is Love” — though who they will find it with remains a mystery until the very end.

Rob Rosen has given me werewolves, unforgettable drag queens, drag queens zombies apocalypse, romance and intergalactic oddities, and now it’s his take on the classic Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Tom Hardy.  By that I mean a spin on family, society, class levels, and one’s place within it.  Here woen heavily with sex, pathos, intrigue, and an ending Tess herself wouldn’t have seen coming.

No indeed,Ted of the d’Urbervilles by Rob Rosen is a story that kept both my heart and interest focused on the characters and page from the moment I met Ted, homeless, starving, and desperately in need of a change of direction for his life.  Which he gets.The sheer pain of Ted’s past history and loss comes through, never more so in his first lucky tide when hitchhiking.  I will remember that trucker and her friend for many novels to come.  Awash in platitudes, warmth, and generosity, she is memorable and has a strength that will stay with the reader and Ted.

This book is full of interesting relationships and unusual dynamics, the one between Ted and Benny perhaps the most special.  The biggest element is that Ted and Benny come to love each other in a non typical  romance way but it actually manifests itself in sexual acts.  As though that is the only way both men know to show love, no matter what type of love it is.  Ted is gay, Benny is straight.  They love each other non romantically but have sex often.  Yes, it’s that complex a relationship and their future becomes equally involved when others are added to it.  Rosen has written these characters and their strange love and relationship in a way we get them.  And accept them as they are.    For the pain, the humor, and the angst they cause each other, but also the love and support.

Sometimes I feel Rob Rosen should come with a warning.  Read Rob Rosen at your own risk.  He’s not for the faint hearted.  He’s never boring.  He takes risks.  Sometimes they don’t pay off but most of the time they do.  And the emotional payload smacks you right in the heart.  As this one did just when I least expected it too.  Rosen likes to zig when other’s like to zag with their narrative flow and the waters can get stormy, but it’s worth every whitecap and high wave to get to shore.

When you get to the ending here, you will understand that sentence.  It’s the same feeling I get at the end of every Rob Rosen story.  A feeling of contentment, a journey will taken, a story well told.

Not familiar with this author?  Lucky for you there is a great library to discover but why not start here?  I definitely recommend Ted of the d’Urbervilles by Rob Rosen

Cover art definitely works for Ted and this story.

Buy Links

Amazon US  |  Amazon UK  |  JMS Books  |  GooglePlay

Book Details:

ebook, 195 pages
Published January 18th 2020 by JMS Bools
ISBN139781646562503
Edition LanguageEnglish

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 Barb the Zany Old Lady: Howling on Hold by EJ Russell

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

I admit, I was attracted to this story by the cover and the blurb—and the fact that it was a standalone since I haven’t read any of the author’s other stories and I don’t like starting in the middle of a series. But I was disappointed in that there were multiple characters from previous books who played a strong secondary role in this story. There were also references to situations and past events that those who’ve read the other books would likely recognize. 

Apparently, though, when it comes to werewolves, this is the first time they’ve been explored. Those other books were about the Fae, and vampires, and other shifters and more, whereas this one focused on werewolf packs, their hierarchy, and the training of “juniors,” those who have passed certain criteria and now enter a three-year Howling school where they learn how to suppress the things that make them wolves so they can pass unnoticed in the human world. This book is about Tanner, a young wolf howling student who turns 21 and is worried that his uncle will call him back early so he can take over his legacy as pack alpha, his dad having died years before. And it’s about his RA in “the Doghouse,” Chase Denney, a guy with high moral standards who refuses to act on his attraction to Tanner. 

After a series of misunderstandings and a possible threat on his life, Tanner goes into hiding for three months. Chase isn’t aware he’s gone, due to his own series of misadventures that bans him from going back to the Doghouse, and when he returns, he immediately sets out to find Tanner and tell him how he really feels. Even when the two find each other, there’s still threats from otherworldly creatures to contend with, intercessions and assistance by the (apparently important) characters from previous books, and a dirty, underhanded plot from one of Tanner’s family members.

To be honest, the story felt way too busy with information overload. Perhaps it hit me that way because the author was trying to fill in all the past issues for those new to the book, or perhaps that’s the author’s writing style, but there was a lot of narrative, and in proportion, very little dialogue. Facts, facts, and more facts had my head spinning with information I did not find interesting so I had a difficult time following many parts of the story. I enjoyed the sweet and simple romance between the two young men, but that took up very little page time. A few less characters, both new and past, and a few less plot twists would have gone a long way toward making this a better book. More face-to-face time with more dialogue, less about the antics of the other wolves in the house (which didn’t seem to go anywhere or have a point to them), and a note linking this to the other books in this paranormal world would definitely have made the story more enjoyable.

The cover by L C Chase is really attractive and shows, in cartoon style, a wolf standing on a cliff edge, howling at the sky, with a cartoon bubble filled with hearts coming out of his mouth, instead of the traditional howl. Very cute and it’s what sold me on reading this story.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 237 pages
Published January 13th 2020 by Riptide Publishing
ASINB081H7NLR6
Edition Language English

Love Sci-Fi/Fantasy? Check Out the Book Blast with Excerpt for Earnest Ink by Alex Hall

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BOOK BLAST

Book Title: Earnest Ink

Author: Alex Hall

Publisher: Nine Star Press

Published: October 14, 2019

Cover Artist: Natasha Snow

Genre/s: Queer Spec Fic, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Thriller/Suspense

Trope/s: Found family

Themes: Mystery/adventure

Heat Rating:  1 flame

Orientation: Asexual, Pansexual

Identity: Cisgender, Trans

Warning: Depictions of Trauma, Blood, Violence, Murder,

Eating disorders, Body hatred, Transphobia, PTSD, War

Length: 72 100 words/244 pages

It is a standalone book.

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Blurb 

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. 

 

Buy Links

NineStar Press  |  Amazon US  |  Amazon UK

Smashwords  |  B&N  | Kobo

 

Excerpt 

Earnest Ink

Alex Hall © 2019

All Rights Reserved

I work without speaking because that’s the way I prefer it. The vibration of my machine, the softer buzz of the fluorescent lights overhead, the tap of my foot on the pedal—it’s the best music in the world.

When I hit a ticklish spot, the girl I’m working on gasps, jolting in my chair.

“Don’t move,” I say. And then, with a salesman’s false cheer: “Almost done!”

The girl is sweating down the crook of her neck. She’s got silver glitter paint on her eyelids and cheeks, a new fashion trend I just can’t quite get behind. Under my lights the mix of perspiration and makeup looks like a blurry constellation.

She wanted a bee inked onto her collarbone, one of those tiny honeybees you find on good tequila bottles. Easily done, and she met the cash requirement. She’s eager, nervous, and breathing in and out in little puffs.

I can’t remember her name, but that’s fine. Customer relations is Eric’s job.

There’s another kid leaning over my glass counter, watching eagerly as I work. “Does it hurt?” he asks. “When the magic happens?”

The bee’s fat yellow thorax wriggles from side to side as it begins to wake, fighting the pressure of my needle, hungry for life.

“It looks like it hurts,” the kid says. I ignore him.

One minute more and—thanks to my peculiar magic—this bee will fly free.

I’m perched on a swivel stool, a wet paper towel in my hand to wipe away ink. It’s too hot in my studio, even with the industrial fans whirling overhead and the door propped wide open. Evening light slants in through the door and the north-facing, floor-to-ceiling window panes that look out onto West Forty-Sixth. It’s muggy, too warm for New York in October, and all of Hell’s Kitchen is wilting, including my client.

“What does it feel like?” the kid demands. He’s leaving greasy fingerprints on the surface of the glass as he strains to get a better look at what I’m doing. I study him out the corner of my eye, wiping sweat off my nose with the back of my wrist before it drips on my customer. He looks like one of the street punks who have taken to running in packs near the cruise terminals, sleeping in old, abandoned cargo containers and panhandling up and down the marina.

He’s skinny and tall, hair dyed an unsettling violet and styled into spikes all over his head. He’s got a silver ring in his septum and more hoops in his ears; his eyelashes are coated with purple mascara to match his hair. Green glitter paint sparkles on his lids. His T-shirt and jeans are torn and dirty, and he’s got a pack of black-market cigarettes rolled into one sleeve against his upper arm.

 

 

 About the Author 

Sarah Remy/Alex Hall is a nonbinary, animal-loving, proud gamer Geek.

Their work can be found in a variety of cool places, including HarperVoyager, EDGE and NineStar Press

 

Author Links

Blog/Website  |  Twitter: @sarahremywrites 

 

 

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