A Lucy New Release Review: Harmonious Hearts 2018 Young Authors Challenge Anthology

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Rating:  5 stars out of 5

Harmonious Hearts 2018 – Stories from the Young Author Challenge
Authors: A. Aduma, Arbour Ames, Nick Anthony, M. Caldeira, Kat Freydl, Sonali Gattani, B.K. Hayes, Mattye Johnson, Daniel Okulov, Chloe Smith, Chelsea Winters

Diversity is our strength, and now more than ever, the voices of young LGBTQIA authors need to be heard. Harmony Ink is proud to showcase the next generation of talented writers in our fifth annual Harmonious Hearts anthology. These authors, all between the ages of fourteen and twenty-one, are the winners of our Young Author Challenge and represent the future voices of our community. We are honored to showcase these writers, their experiences, visions, and the glimpses into their hearts in these pages. Join them on their journey and help us celebrate their courage, their love, and their unique ways of seeing the world.

The talented young writers who contributed to this book should be proud.  While all the stories are tied together by the LGBTQIA theme, they are all unique and approach their subjects differently.  They are definitely not all light-hearted and fluffy and a couple of them made me so angry or sad.

Just a Phase by M. Calderia Taking that big step of admitting who you like can be scary but it’s a little easier when you have a no-nonsense best friend supporting you. While Meg tries to pass off her attraction to girls as “Just a phase, huh?” Emme is having none of it, giving Meg courage.  I was happy that she got her brave on.

The Language Unspoken by Chelsea Winters Cody struggles with asthma, being tossed out by his homophobic mother and trying to do too much.  “But Cody had almost lost everything to get where he was after he came out and his mother cut ties with him, and he wasn’t going to give it up for the world.”  He has two awesome friends in his roommate, Alex, and his best friend, Ellie.  He works at a flower shop and is immediately taken with a beautiful stranger who comes to order flowers.   He believes he has too much baggage and “…I’m not really, like the choice most people would make or anything…”  He’s more than he thinks and I was glad someone else noticed. 

A Boy Like Edgar by Nick Anthony Gabe is an art student who has the technique perfected but doesn’t have the passion, the spark, that makes a true artist.  “My work was heavy and precise, with dark, moody palettes, and obviously showing a lot of skill.  I wasn’t like some of my counterparts, full of energy and color, making strokes with abandon and whimsy.  That had been bred out of me.”   It isn’t until he meet Edgar, a fellow art student, that he starts to realize what all that color and energy can come to mean and that was lovely to read.

Of College and Lost Dogs by Mattye Johnson A sweet story of a new beginning at college and the making of new friends.  Learning to sign to be able to communicate with them has an added bonus. 

2:00 AM by Sonali Gattani  This was one of the stories that took my heart and stomped on it.  Told completely by texts to his best friend, Kara, this is so bittersweet and seriously made me cry. It is the mark of a gifted author that through the tears I was able to see the hope even as I was so angry with Kara’s parents.  I am usually not one for sad or angsty stories but this was one of my favorites because it was so real.  Well done.

143 by Chloe Smith A little bit of paranormal in this tale of Penelope, her dad and the aunt that no one talked about.  I liked how Penelope was honest with her dad, not only about her sexuality but about how he made her feel growing up. “While he was there physically, I never felt he was there for me, not really…”   That made a difference and Aunt Catherine was there in spirit for her.  I loved the meaning of 143 and the Twitter conversations.  Love is worth it.

Dev’s Law by A. Aduma Facing the wrath of your father for being honest about yourself isn’t easy but it’s softened when you have someone by your side.  That’s what Dev wants to be for Law when he is caught with gay porn by his dad.  The only thing more embarrassing would be how T came out to his family.  While this could have been heavy, it wasn’t and I appreciated that.  And let’s talk about Dev’s mother, who is now my spirit animal. “She didn’t even shy away from talking about anal sex, like the prepping and all that, importance of lube and enemas…”  With both Dev and Law, no less.  Go mom! Another favorite.

The Head That Wears a Crown by Kat Freydl All I can say is, everyone, and I mean everyone, should have a brother like Cal but especially those who have a father like theirs.  Charlie is dealing with so much and their father is a homophobic televangelist that leaves them to fend for themselves but Cal is there for Charlie, always.   I can’t even say how much I admired them.  “You’re just Charlie….You’re just.  You are.  You’re immune to semantics.”  Loved.

The Train Station by B.K. Hayes Whoo, a sad one where I was so worried about what was going to happen.  As you figure out what is up with the train station, I wanted her to understand what this would mean.  I don’t want to give anything away but I did want to know what happened to Aleja.  The ending was such a relief.

Subtle by Daniel Okulov My total favorite of the anthology, a lesson in how you treat people, how you judge people and most importantly, that you can change those things.  Matty has autism and while his big brother, Justin, starts out very selfish and I was rolling my eyes at him but the new babysitter, Dakota, helped him be better.  Dakota understands what it’s like for people to not get you and that made a difference.  Loved this one.

Someone Else’s Star by Arbour Ames This one was just too sad for me. Or maybe it just made me too angry, that Kelly promised to always be there for Fletcher but broke that promise without warning.  The message from Blue just made me madder.  Kelly seemed to be this amazing person and then lost my respect. 

Cover art by Paul Richmond shows the back of a person standing in front of a rainbow colored graffiti wall.  I thought this fit the feel of the book, as the stories were all different yet linked by the rainbow.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press  |  Amazon

Book Details:

eBook,Paperback, 234 pages
Published October 1st 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1641081449 (ISBN13: 9781641081443)
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Boy Shattered by Eli Easton

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Rating 5 stars out of 5

Brian

You’ll make it out of here, Brian. I swear.

I had everything. I was school quarterback, popular with girls, and my dad was proud of me. I told myself it didn’t matter no one knew the real me. And then I nearly died. Landon saved my life. He’s the bravest guy I know. He came out a few years ago, proud and fierce, and he ran into gunfire to help others. Me, I’m a mess. Can’t even stand to be in a room with the curtains open. But here’s the thing about losing it all: You get a chance to start over and be someone new, someone true. Only how can I move on when the two shooters who attacked our school were never caught? And why do I feel like I’m still in the crosshairs?

Landon

Will you kiss me?

When I came across Brian Marshall, the hottest guy in school, dying on the cafeteria floor, I did what anyone would do. I tried to save him. His request surprised me, but I figured he needed comfort, so I kissed him on the forehead. When he survived and came back to school, he was broken in body and mind. He still needed me, and soon we were unlikely besties. But what I witnessed that day woke me up. I want to demand action on gun control, lead protests, raise my fist. I’ll tear the world down if I have to. And if I can get the boy of my dreams and save the world at the same time? I’ll take it. Only I didn’t understand that the horror at Jefferson Waller High wasn’t over.

This is the story of how Brian survived a mass shooting at his high school and how Landon, the boy who stopped to help him, became an activist, his friend, and ultimately his lover.

There aren’t words to describe how incredibly emotional, meaningful, heartbreaking, and heartwarming this story is. Only Eli Easton could wring tears from a turnip. Honestly. Those who know me know I occasionally cry, i.e., a few tears appear on my lashes. Let’s just say when Brian’s poem “18 Chairs” is read at the end of this story, I literally sobbed.

I knew going in that this would be an emotional story, and as I started to read I had to take several breaks—some short, some long—so I could regroup and move forward. Yes, there are scenes of graphic violence. That’s the topic, after all. And the author clearly warns of that. But the emotions are so visceral, so raw, I had to back off, and I actually walked away for a day so I could go back fresh. And then I kept moving forward until around the 85% mark when the action picked up again and the events and drama unfolding on-page propelled me in rapt attention to the end. Riveting. Gut-wrenching. Superb.

I loved the strength and completeness of the author’s treatment of the characters—not only of the MCs but of multiple secondary characters, who all played an important role in this story. I appreciated the way the topic of gun control legislation was handled and the sensitivity the author showed to survivors of past shootings such as those from Parkland.

And, mostly, I appreciated the happy ending showing hope for a bright future. I love your work, Eli Easton! Versatile isn’t even a strong enough descriptor. I am avidly looking forward to more in future. In the meantime, I very, very highly recommend this book! It’s most definitely in my top 5 stories of 2018.

The cover by Tiferet Designs  is incredible and features a close-up of a young man as seen through a broken mirror. It not only reflects how the mirror would be shattered in a tragedy such as the one described, but also how the life of the character is so shattered and difficult to piece back together.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 317 pages
Published October 16th 2018
ASINB07JB2CB84
Edition Language English

In the Spotlight: Building Forever (This Time Forever #1) by Kelly Jensen (special excerpt and giveaway)

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Building Forever (This Time Forever #1) by Kelly Jensen
Riptide Publishing
Cover Art: Natasha Snow

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Kelly Jensen here today on on for Building Forever, a story we highly recommend. The author has   brought along a excerpt and giveaway for all to enter.  Check out both below.

Building Forever is the first in a series of standalone novels focused on older characters who think love has passed them by. I loved writing these second chance romances, and I hope you enjoy reading about the books—especially this one because Charlie and Simon will forever be the characters who started me on this journey.

 

About Building Forever

A new town, a new neighbor, and a new chance to build a forever.

Charlie King is doing fine. Sure, he’s a widower raising a teenage daughter who just got her first boyfriend, his book series isn’t writing itself, and he has a crush on his new neighbor — the guy next door. But everything’s just fine.

Simon Lynley is doing better. He moved to Bethlehem to fall out of love and rebuild his career. An affair with his neighbor isn’t part of the plan, but the attraction between them is too hard to ignore.

But when Simon’s ex follows him to Pennsylvania seeking reconciliation, and Charlie’s life starts to feel like a video on repeat, everything comes apart. Charlie worries that he’s failing as a father, and Simon is a distraction he can’t afford. Meanwhile Simon doesn’t know if he could survive being left again, and he hasn’t come all this way to make the same mistakes. But despite their fears, it’s only together that they’ll find the strength to slay old foes and build the forever they’ve been waiting for.

Now available from Riptide Publishing!

Building Forever Excerpt

Charlie’s daughter, Liv, is out on her first date, and Charlie is trying not to obsess over the fact that everything is changing. His daughter has met someone, Charlie has too—and he doesn’t know what to do with all his new anxieties or where to put them. Best friend Phil to the rescue! He and Phil head out for Chinese takeout and a little shopping and Phil does a lot of listening while Charlie struggles to come to terms with the changes in his life.

Everything Is Changing

Charlie followed the girl to a curtained alcove at the rear corner of the shop, accepted two different pairs to try, and pulled on the first. Stepping outside the curtain, he called to Phil, “What do you think?”

“They look like jeans.”

“Well, duh.”

“Why are you trying on clothes?”

“My old jeans are getting pretty, um, old.”

“Liv isn’t going to be coming in this direction, is she?”

“No. Banko’s is in the other way.” Someone had recently reopened the small local theater—and renamed it. Charlie could never remember the new name, though. “I just need new jeans.”

Charlie ducked back into the changing room. He studied himself in the mirror and admired the jeans. They made his legs seem longer and all of him more lean. He didn’t even have to suck in his gut, though that could have been all the jogging and projects around the house. As he turned to the side to inspect his profile, his thoughts wandered toward Simon again.

Would he notice the new jeans?

Did Charlie want him to?

“Here. I picked out some shirts for your updated wardrobe,” Phil called through the curtain.

“Uh-huh.”

Phil thrust a handful of material through the gap at the side. Charlie took the shirts and shook the first one out. It had Cute But Psycho printed across the front. “Very funny!” A muffled snort sounded from near the front of the shop. The second read: Sassy Since Birth.

“I think I see Liv!” Phil called.

Charlie dropped the shirts and scrambled for his own jeans, falling against the wall as he yanked them up his legs—over the pair he already had on. Shit. Tempting as it was to run, getting arrested for shoplifting would stick a wrench in his evening plans. Charlie pulled the new pair off and the old pair on. He pushed through the curtain with his fly half undone and nearly bowled Phil over. A laughing Phil.

“Just foolin’,” his new nemesis reported with an evil grin.

“Jesus.” Charlie melted back through the curtain and into the wall at the rear of the dressing room. He so wasn’t cut out to be the father of a teenager. Then there was this business with the jeans. What was he doing? Why was his life so weird all of a sudden?

“Everything okay in there?” Phil asked from outside the curtain.

Charlie drew it aside. “Yeah. I guess.”

“The jeans looked really good. Clean. Um . . . slimming.”

“Now you’re trying to distract me?”

“Is it working?”

“I dunno.”

Phil took the new jeans from Charlie’s hand. “C’mon, our food is probably ready.”

They paid for the jeans, collected their takeout, and turned back toward the beer store. By the time they got to the truck, Charlie felt drained. Not just empty, but as though he’d spent energy he didn’t have. He leaned against the side of the truck and closed his eyes.

“How are you doing?” Phil asked from his side of the truck.

Swallowing, Charlie shook his head.

Phil came around the back and stopped in front of Charlie. “Wherever you’re doing in that whacko brain of yours, stop. Okay?” Easier said than done. “Liv’s a good kid.” Phil delivered an encouraging shoulder squeeze.

“She was always a good kid. Thing is, she’s not a kid anymore, is she?”

“Don’t make me hug you on Broad Street.”

Charlie let go of something that might have been a whimper.

Phil put on a reassuring expression. “They’re always gonna be our little girls, man. Always. Even when they’re our age and we’re too old to even try for Maximum Overdrive.”

Charlie waved in the general direction of their heads. “Virtual reality. If we can think it, it will happen.”

“That’s kinda your problem.”

Charlie sighed. He wanted to tell Phil he was scared, but Phil already knew. “Everything’s changing,” he whispered instead.

He wasn’t sure Phil had heard him until his friend patted him on the shoulder. “Let’s go home.”

Charlie straightened his spine. He had to own this, whatever it was. The good and the bad. The jeans he could return tomorrow. Simon . . . Simon needed more thought. Liv, though, she was his, irrevocably, until the end of time, and he had no regrets there.

None.

But if he could have done things differently— No. Some things just couldn’t be changed. You had to own them. Fully.

 

About the This Time Forever Series

Small towns and second chances.

Simon, Frank, and Brian think love has passed them by. Each is facing down his fiftieth birthday—Simon in a few years, Frank next year, and Brian soon enough. Each has loved and lost. But for these men, everything old really is new again, and it’s only when they return to their roots that they’ll find their second chances and the happily ever after they’ve been waiting their whole lives for.

This time it’s forever.

This series includes:

  1. Building Forever — releasing October 15, available now!
  2. Renewing Forever — releasing November 12, available for preorder!
  3. Chasing Forever — releasing December 10, available soon!

About Kelly Jensen

If aliens ever do land on Earth, Kelly will not be prepared, despite having read over a hundred stories about the apocalypse. Still, she will pack her precious books into a box and carry them with her as she strives to survive. It’s what bibliophiles do.

Kelly is the author of a number of novels, novellas, and short stories, including the Chaos Station series, cowritten with Jenn Burke. Some of what she writes is speculative in nature, but mostly it’s just about a guy losing his socks and/or burning dinner. Because life isn’t all conquering aliens and mountain peaks. Sometimes finding a happy ever after is all the adventure we need.

Connect with Kelly:


Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Building Forever one lucky person will win a $25 Riptide Publishing gift card and a swag pack of stickers, art cards, and bookmarks! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on October 20, 2018. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following along, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

A VVivacious Review: Orc Haven by Beryll and Osiris Brackhaus

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Rating: 5 Stars out of 5

Vash is a female orc trying to survive the aftermath of Queen Nakuru’s death with her horde of children in tow. As the orcs gain freedom from the Queen’s control they find themselves thrust into an eventuality they wouldn’t have ever even dreamt of had the thought of being free from the Queen’s control ever entered their mind.

Imra is the Champion of the Free Races, the one who ends the life of Queen Nakuru and the one who pledges to create a new world where all species can live and prosper – the elves, the dwarves, the humans and… the orcs.

As Vash and Imra’s paths intersect they forge between themselves a companionship that threatens to be so much more.

This story starts where most fantasy stories end to tell a tale more fantastical than you could ever have imagined.

I truly enjoyed this story, it has a slow beginning but once the story really gets going, I had no way to apply brakes. This was just such a delightful tale and so unique.

Building a village, fostering relationships between species who were at war with each other until most recently seems like tedious work, mind-numbing work with victories few and far between. But the way this tale is told makes you realise that all this mind-numbing toil of working together of uplifting a species that got the short end of the stick is amazing because when there is so much good will and perseverance at play, things are stunning and immersive, almost magical.

I loved how we spend a lot of time in the beginning with Vash to truly experience her journey as she finds herself and begins to truly express herself and as she realizes there is room for a lot of good things in this brave new world. She comes to see her maggots as more and comes to love them in a way she has never let herself before. But what was truly magical was coming to the same realisations as Vash does about just how truly magical freedom is.

“Maybe being free to be whatever they wanted to be was much, much bigger than she had imagined.”

Imra is a champion who never believed she would be one. She truly finds it hard to believe that she attempted the feats she did let alone was actually successful at them. But even though she finds it hard to believe you realize it from the very beginning that Imra is strongest where it matters, in her heart and mind.

“And when he had been killed, if they had offered to take her home, would she have accepted? The answer she had come up with every single time was no. Even had she known all the horrors that awaited her the answer would have been no. If there was work to be done, she did it, whether it was fixing a fence, or killing a Dark Queen or saving orcs from extinction. She might be shitting her pants the entire way but she would still do it.”

Imra and Vash’s romance is a slow burn magical thing which blossoms in this story as a celebration but I feel it is very well balanced with all the other elements of the story which is very much like a fantasy novel about one unlikely hero on the journey to do the impossible. And as history would tell you I am a sucker for those.

This story was amazing, I found myself constantly teary eyed seeing all these people attempt such marvellous feats to leave a world much better than the one they were born in. There are a whole horde of characters in this book and they are all amazing.

This is an absolutely stunning story.

Cover Art by Anna Tiferet Sikorska. I loved the artwork on the cover and especially loved the font of the main title and how that light just hits you right in the eye. It is pretty amazing.

Buy Links

Amazon US 

Amazon UK

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 203 pages
Published October 13th 2018
ASINB07GVF4ZQ3

Release Blitz for Building Forever by Kelly Jensen (excerpt and giveaway)

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Building Forever by Kelly Jensen

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Release Date (Print & Ebook): October 15th, 2018

Subgenre: Contemporary Romance

Order here:

Riptide Publishing: https://riptidepublishing.com/collections/series-this-time-forever/products/building-forever-1

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/893958

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/building-forever/id1433933530?mt=11

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/building-forever-1

Synopsis:

A new town, a new neighbor, and a new chance to build a forever.

Charlie King is doing fine. Sure, he’s a widower raising a teenage daughter who just got her first boyfriend, his book series isn’t writing itself, and he has a crush on his new neighbor — the guy next door. But everything’s just fine.

Simon Lynley is doing better. He moved to Bethlehem to fall out of love and rebuild his career. An affair with his neighbor isn’t part of the plan, but the attraction between them is too hard to ignore.

But when Simon’s ex follows him to Pennsylvania seeking reconciliation, and Charlie’s life starts to feel like a video on repeat, everything comes apart. Charlie worries that he’s failing as a father, and Simon is a distraction he can’t afford. Meanwhile Simon doesn’t know if he could survive being left again, and he hasn’t come all this way to make the same mistakes. But despite their fears, it’s only together that they’ll find the strength to slay old foes and build the forever they’ve been waiting for.

Teaser Excerpt :

“I wanted to thank you for the flower. I’m, ah, assuming it was you.”

Charlie’s smile widened a fraction. “You need some color in your house. And something bent.” His eyes widened briefly. “Curved, or not straight. Crap. This is why I shouldn’t talk. I’m really bad at this talking thing.”

One corner of Simon’s mouth curled upward. “Are you trying to tell me I’m not gay enough?”

Charlie moved to cover his face with his hands, nearly braining himself with the hammer. Bracing his forearm across his forehead instead, he breathed into a pause, quietly, steadily. Then he dropped his arm, and leveled a direct look at Simon. “I’m sorry I barged into your space, and messed it up with my clumsy come-on. I didn’t stop to ask if you were into guys, or take into account the fact you might have lost someone. Or might not even, you know, want to . . . whatever with me. I just got it into my head that I needed to know what it would be like to kiss you, to kiss any guy—not that you were the most handy one. It’s your eyes. They’re so damn blue, and I haven’t thought about anyone on a daily basis in so long, and I had to know.”

His face was red, and the quiet breathing had accelerated into a soft gasping, as though Charlie had just finished a run. Simon stepped in, closing the distance between them, and paused for long enough for Charlie to step back, dodge aside, or simply raise a hand. Say no. He stiffened a little, eyes widening, but otherwise remained still.

“Any guy?” Simon arched an eyebrow.

“You in particular.”

“Why the ice cream?”

Charlie’s eyelids fluttered, briefly. “Because there’s no way anyone can eat ice cream and feel sad.”

Oh God. Simon’s next breath shook slightly. “The puzzle?”

“Because you needed time to think, and something to do with your hands.”

“What are you trying to tell me?”

They were standing so close together that the straightening of Charlie’s shoulders was a twitch at the periphery of Simon’s vision. The thunk at their feet would be the hammer. Then Charlie was leaning in, a hand rising to curl behind Simon’s neck. He paused there, for the space of a single breath, before pressing his lips to Simon’s in a gentle kiss.

A whisper passed between them, a susurrus of words. Simon didn’t bother figuring them out; he tucked his free hand behind Charlie’s shoulder and pulled him closer, angled his head slightly, and deepened the sweet, tentative kiss.

Charlie’s lips were the sort a man might dream about. Full and plump and utterly distracting. Simon kissed both before tending the top and bottom in turn, exploring the mouth he’d fantasized about. The tip of Charlie’s tongue sent a tingling burn across his skin. He shivered. Goose bumps prickled his nape, his shoulders, his arms. The kiss deepened again, becoming less tentative, less question, more statement.

Simon stroked his hand down Charlie’s arm. The sharp, clean scent of Charlie’s sweat filled his senses. The taste of Charlie thrilled his tongue. Prickling skin gave way to keen-edged arousal. A southward rush of blood.

Head light, thoughts swimming, Simon pulled away. Just his lips. Charlie chased him, caught him in another kiss, and Simon got lost somewhere on the way to reason, answering the surer flick of Charlie’s tongue, the sweetly satisfied exhalation of breath.

Charlie bumped into him, nudging him backward. Simon broke out of the kiss again, stepping away to lessen the chance of losing himself a second time. Third time. The sun could have set and the stars come out. A year might have passed by. As he stood there, panting, gaze locked with one of deep and velvety brown, only the weight of the small pot in one hand served as a reminder of why he’d come next door.

Surely it hadn’t been for a kiss.

He’d have traveled much farther for this kiss.

 

Quotes about the book:

“Jensen’s talent for world-building and memorable, unique secondary characters are on full display here in this fabulous series starter. Deeply felt emotions and a lovely romance have me eager for more in this world!”

  • Annabeth Albert, author of Out of Uniform series

“Moving and well written, Building Forever will leave you with a mansion-sized smile.”

  • Sarina Bowen, USA Today bestselling author of Goodbye Paradise.

About the Author:

Kelly Jensen

If aliens ever do land on Earth, Kelly will not be prepared, despite having read over a hundred stories of the apocalypse. Still, she will pack her precious books into a box and carry them with her as she strives to survive. It’s what bibliophiles do.

Kelly is the author of a number of novels, novellas and short stories, including the Chaos Station series, co-written with Jenn Burke. Some of what she writes is speculative in nature, but mostly it’s just about a guy losing his socks and/or burning dinner. Because life isn’t all conquering aliens and mountain peaks. Sometimes finding a happy ever after is all the adventure we need.

Connect with Kelly: Twitter | Facebook | Newsletter | Instagram | Website

Enter the giveaway: Win one signed paperback copy of Block and Strike by Kelly Jensen.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/88d45f0371/?

October’s Scary Joys and Frights! This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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October’s Scary Joys and Frights!

This week’s topic came to me because one of my friends has been sending out pictures of her house that she’s getting ready for Halloween.  Now she and her family are renown for how their house shows.  It looks as though it was professionally knocked out and produced by someone in Hollywood.  Nope, just in the wonderfully warped brain by my friend and her family.  This year?  They are adding actors.  Most likely returned son and his soon to be husband lol.  People come from miles around to see her  place and trick or treat there.  And be scared the beejazus out of!    It takes months of  planning and they start over a month in advance to lay out the decorations and wiring.  It’s’ clearly a joy for all involved.  I’ll see if she posts a vid this year and bring it to you.

She’s not alone.

Halloween has become one of the most popular holidays in the U.S.  We decorate our houses, planning way in advance, and we plan, and coordinate our costumes too.  Parties galore happen all over the place, and streets like  Georgetown flow with Ironman and Scarlet Witch,  Thors and WonderWoman.  You name it, the costume is there, and probably some you can’t.  That’s great too.  People feel free to express themselves, free their imaginations…sometimes it’s much easier to be yourself under a wig and behind a mask  Took a turn there didn’t I?

The unexpected.  That’s always to be found at Halloween as well.  Never forget it’s origins.  More on that to come next Sunday.

Until then let’s enjoy people’s efforts to get into the spirit of Halloween this year.  Do you know someone who goes 100 percent when decorating for Halloween?  Are you one of those people?  I know I am!  And I need more pumpkins to carve…

Some of the readers recommendations for frightful reads?  Let’s see what they have in store for us!

From H.B.:

I don’t usually read horror or psychological thrillers. Those are things I rather watch. But I have read a few books that have ran chills down my spine:
The Rats by James Herbert
My Boyfriend’s Back by Elliot Cooper
Buried Desires 1-2 by Ofelia Gränd and Amy Spector
Silent Woods by Ofelia Gränd
The Deadly Sugar Collection by Ofelia Gränd
The Snowflake by Ofelia Gränd (will be in Buried Desire 3 releasing this week, which i received the ARC of)

I think a story that is written with an ominous tone and reference things like murder,death or torture as if it’s a everyday occurrence in people’s lives is chilling. If it becomes too gruesome it just becomes hard to read also.

From Purple Reader:

Boy, you really do like Oct; plenty of good ideas. As are the ones from H.B. Like H.B., I’ve not made my tbr-for-Oct list yet, but here are some more I’d rec from two authors you’ve mentioned:
If you like John Inman like I do, definitely rec Spirit, and:
– Sunset Lake
– The Boys on the Mountain
If you love Jordan L. Hawk like I do, also rec. Hainted, and:
– Restless Spirits (Spirits #1)
– Threshold (Whyborne & Griffin #2)

What makes a story go Boo for You?  And which ones have?

You have until the end of the month to get your recs into us.  I’m sure the authors and publishers will be releasing titles all month.  Let us know what new ones you find.  We will be doing the same.  Gift certs will be given out in our Horror or Boo For You Title Rec Giveaway!

 

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, October 14:

  • Release Blitz: Orc Haven by Beryll and Osiris Brackhaus
  • Blog Tour Savor Me (Kitchen Gods #3) by Beth Bolden
  • October’s Scary Joys and Frights!
  • This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Monday, October 15:

  • Release Blitz Building Forever by Kelly Jensen
  • Release Blitz – – His To Save (The Candy Cane Club #2) by Ari McKay
  • Dreamspun Promo Cari Z. on Handle with Care
  • A VVivacious Review: Orc Haven by Beryll and Osiris Brackhaus
  • A Lucy Review: Pisces Hooks Taurus (Signs of Love #4) by Anyta Sunday
  • A Chaos Moondrawn Release Day Review: Devil Take Me Anthology

Tuesday, October 16:

  • Release Day Blitz Pisces Hooks Taurus (Signs of Love #4) by Anyta Sunday
  • Review Tour – Lone Wolf by Anna Martin
  • Promo BA Tortuga
  • A MelanieM Releases Day Review: Calculated Magic by SJD Peterson
  • A Lucy Release Day Review: Handle With Care by Cari Z
  • A Stella Release Day Review: Lincoln’s Park (Links In the Chain) by Parker Williams
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Lone Wolf by Anna Martin

Wednesday, October 17:

  • Tour for Soulbound by Archer Kay Leah
  • Release Blitz – Roads Series by Garrett Leigh
  • Release Blitz & Review Tour – Baylin Crow – Fling
  • TOUR Leopold Author: M.D. Grimm
  • A Free Dreamer Review: Yakuza (Guns and Roses #1) by Lilia Blanc
  • A Lila Review: Rebuilding Hope (Kindred #1) by Jessie G.

Thursday, October 18:

  • In the Spotlight Tour and Giveaway: Building Forever by Kelly Jensen
  • Review Tour Boy Shattered by Eli Easton
  • BLOG TOUR Commitment Collection Box Set by Karen Botha
  • Promo TOUR for Parker Williams and  Lincoln’s Park (Links In the Chain)
  • A Lucy Prerelease Review: Harmonious Hearts 2018
  • A Stella Review: Savor Me by Beth Bolden
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Boy Shattered by Eli Easton

Friday, October 19:

  • Review Tour – Sam Burns’ Adder and Willow
  • Release Blitz – Sarah Hadley Brook’s Gateway To Love
  • Promo BL Morticia
  • Harmony Promo Lou Hoffmann
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: Gateway to Love by Sarah Hadley Brook
  • A Free Dreamer  Review: Adder and Willow (The Rowan Harbor Cycle #6) by Sam Burns
  • A Caryn Review:  Fireworks and Stolen Kisses (Lijun #1) by Angel Martinez and Freddy MacKay

Saturday, October 20:

  • Release Blitz Tour – Blake Moreno – Heat For Sale (writing Leta Blake) Signal Boost
  • A BeeJay Review: Escaping Solitude (Escape Trilogy #2) by Sara Dobie Bauer

 

 

 

Neve Wilder on Cracker Jacks and her new release Centre Of Gravity (Nook Island #1) by Neve Wilder (excerpt and giveaway)

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Neve Wilder here  today talking about her latest novel Center of Gravity and  Cracker Jacks! Welcome, Neve!

Thank you so much for having me today! So Cracker Jack—yes, the caramel popcorn stuff with the prize—is a thing in the beginning of this book, and I’m going to talk about how it ended up becoming this oddly appropriate symbol for their unfolding relationship in Center of Gravity.To be honest, the whole Cracker Jack idea just popped out when I was writing. I saw Rob, my grumpy accountant, standing at the window, and when I thought about what he was seeing outside, I saw Alex with a box of Cracker Jack in his hand, tossing bits in the air and catching them in his mouth. It was weirdly specific, so I ran with it, liking how the sight threw Rob off and cast him back into his own memories of baseball games and bleachers.

There’s a part in the book where they argue/flirt over the merits or lack thereof of Cracker Jack, with Rob dismissing the treat altogether as too sweet and the prize disappointing, and Alex disagreeing, saying that it’s all about the anticipation and that the prize doesn’t matter either way. It’s a really telling moment of their character—Rob’s grumbly pessimism to Alex’s persistent optimism.

Rob starts to pick up boxes of Cracker Jack to give to Alex, and this thoughtful gesture on his part signals that he’s more into Alex than he’ll admit. As their relationship progresses, Rob begins to realize that Alex might be right: it’s all about the journey. Though the prize in this case—their hard-won happily ever after—ain’t too shabby, either!

 
Excerpt from Center of Gravity. In this bit, Rob and Alex discuss the merits—or lack thereof—of Cracker Jack while Rob tries to rein in his attraction to Alex.
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Alex looked up at me again. I thought he might say more about my dad, but instead he tossed a Cracker Jack in my direction, calling out “Catch!”

I had to veer hard to the right to catch it, but I did. The caramel melted on contact and stuck to my teeth. He gave me one of those gleaming, sun-bright smiles. “By the skin of your teeth.”

I leaned over, snatching the box and shaking a few in my hand so I could return the favor. He caught it easily.

“The best part of this stuff was always the prize. They’re not really that good.”

“You’re wrong.” Alex tossed another kernel up in the air for me to catch. I threw up my hand and caught it midair. “The prize is always disappointing. But it’s all about the anticipation, that maybe someday the prize will be really good. Cracker Jack itself is decent.”

“How is that any different than what I just said?”

Alex shrugged. “It just is.” Then, fishing through the box, he pulled out the wrapped prize and tossed it in my direction. “Do the honors.”

I peeled the paper back to reveal a smiley face with a disembodied hand giving a giant thumbs up.

Alex laughed. “See, terrible. But admit that for a second you thought maybe it’d be something good.”

“Not even for a millisecond.” I smirked.

“So jaded.”

I slid the sticker from the backing and held it up on my finger. “It’s all yours, color whiz.” I leaned forward on my knees to stick it in the center of his T-shirt, fist bracing my weight to one side of Alex’s leg as I pushed the sticker into cotton. His chin angled down as he examined my handiwork, and then his eyes met mine, his grin fading. He licked his lips and I had to force a casual smile. Don’t mind me as I try to inhale you.

“Rob?”

First I was just relieved he didn’t call me Mr. Macomb, then came a strange mashup of anxiety and awareness that I was still hovering in his space. It was too damn tempting to stay in that pocket of air scented with his soap, his hair, his deodorant, the Cracker Jack-tinged sweetness of his breath.

“Yeah?” I forced myself back onto my own patch of carpet that smelled of dogs and age.

“Thanks for giving me this job. Seriously.”

I cut a dismissive wave at the liquid green-gold sincerity of his eyes. “Break my heart, why don’t ya.”

His sober expression gave way to another grin, this one mischievous. He was good at layering his expressions with nuance and, as with the paint chips, I was becoming more adept at discerning the undertones.

His brows bounced. “Give me a chance to.”

I tossed the empty box of Cracker Jack at him and stood. I needed him out of the house before I decided I needed him to stay.

“Go home,” I said, not unkindly.

Winslow grunted and huffed air, stretching out long against Alex’s leg and nuzzling his head against Alex’s thigh.

“And take this damn traitor dog with you.”

“Seriously?” he said, his hand sweeping over Winslow’s belly before he stood.

“No. He hasn’t made me miserable enough. Yet.”

 

Buy Links:Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2DTNP55

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2Rln8sB

Length: 98,000 words approx.
Cover Design:Jay Aheer
Blurb

When life comes apart at the seams, love is the only thread that can repair it.


Accountant Rob Macomb has a stable job that he’s good at and… that’s about it. A year of nothing but heartache leaves him seeking refuge from loneliness and grief behind spreadsheets, punishing daily runs, and the occasional anonymous tryst. He wants only to bury the past and focus on his career, but he has one last task to complete: pack up his parent’s quaint beachside house and put it on the market.
Alex Andrews is a budding artist with a penchant for Converse, Cracker Jack, and piercings. Family turmoil sidelines his dreams of finishing art school and building a career in three-dimensional design, and now he’s doing whatever he can to keep everyone afloat.When Alex shows up as a part of the moving crew hired to help Rob clean out the house, what should be a simple move becomes far more complex. Because it’s not the first time they’ve met, and their last encounter was memorable for all the wrong reasons.The attraction between them is undeniable and intense, but Rob’s hell-bent on pushing everyone away, and Alex is on the verge of spinning out of control. Can a grumpy accountant and a bootstrapping artist find their center of gravity together, or are they on a collision course to heartbreak?*An emotionally-charged, slow burn m/m romance featuring an age gap, hurt/comfort themes, and a hard-won happily ever after. This is the standalone first in the Nook Island, Georgia series.*

 

Read Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words 5 star review here.

Neve Wilder lives in the dirty South, where the summers are hot and the winters are…sometimes cold. She is a mom to three rambunctious weebeasts who have joined forces in a mission to carpet the family home with toys and small items that really suck to step on at six in the morning.


She reads promiscuously, across multiple genres, but her favorite stories always contain an element of romance. Incidentally, this is also what she likes to write. Slow-burners with delicious tension? Yes. Whiplash-inducing page-turners, also yes. Down and dirty scorchers? Yes. And every flavor in between.


She believes David Bowie was the sexiest musician to ever live, and she’s always game to nerd out on anything from music to writing.


And finally, she believes that love conquers all. Except the heat index in July. Nothing can conquer that bastard.

Newsletter: You can keep up with Neve’s future projects by joining her newsletter, where you can instantly download the free Watch Me, Extracurricular Activities #1 short story. The series continues exclusively for newsletter subscribers. Subscribe here: readerlinks.com/l/320361

Author Page: readerlinks.com/l/320362
Facebook Readers’ Group: readerlinks.com/l/320364
Website: https://www.nevewilder.com
Goodreads: readerlinks.com/l/320363
Amazon Author Page: readerlinks.com/l/320389

Giveaway

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A MelanieM Review: Center Of Gravity (Nook Island #1) by Neve Wilder

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Rating: 5 Stars out of 5

When life comes apart at the seams, love is the only thread that can mend it…

Accountant Rob Macomb has a stable job that he’s good at and… that’s about it. A year of nothing but heartache leaves him seeking refuge from loneliness and grief behind spreadsheets, punishing daily runs, and the occasional anonymous tryst. He wants only to bury the past and focus on his career, but he has one last task to complete: pack up his parent’s quaint beachside house and put it on the marketCenter Of Gravity (Nook Island #1) by Neve Wilder

Alex Andrews is a budding artist with a penchant for Converse, Cracker Jack, and piercings. Family turmoil sidelines his dreams of finishing art school and building a career in three-dimensional design, and now he’s doing whatever he can to keep everyone afloat.

When Alex shows up as a part of the moving crew hired to help Rob clean out the house, what should be a simple move becomes far more complex. Because it’s not the first time they’ve met, and their last encounter was memorable for all the wrong reasons.

The attraction between them is undeniable and intense, but Rob’s hell-bent on pushing everyone away, and Alex is on the verge of spinning out of control. Can a grumpy accountant and a bootstrapping artist find their center of gravity together, or are they on a collision course to heartbreak?

Center Of Gravity (Nook Island #1) by Neve Wilder is just what I hope for and rarely find when reading a new author and new contemporary romance.  It’s that marvelous, heartwarming story full of just about every  element that grabs at you and compels you to read it!  That once started makes you want to keep going, find out what happens to these men, and dog, and even a house,  and a family on a place called Nook Island.

You get hooked in ever so slowly too.  It’s bit by bit because, trust me, this is a sloooow burn romance.  Not slow as in the slow to jump into bed slow. Nope not that.  But slow to admit the connections that are forming, or have formed between the mixed use artist  and the CPA.  Each has such a heavy emotional set of baggage that is revealed to the other haltingly in steps, some the reader already is aware of as the story is told in alternating points of view.  Such confused and endearing men, totally different and yet, so alike in other fundamental ways.  Of course, it’s a lack of communication and a truly awful beginning that builds a barrier that both need to build a bridge over.  A Jack Russell terror (not a misspelling) paves the way as does emptying and working on Rob’s parents house.

Of course, there’s so much more there.  I could actually write pages about this book.  Wilder’s amazing creation and  use of Alex’s family and father, Rob’s sister Summer, the memories of Rob’s own parents, and, yes, the developing detail that I suspect will become the next story in the series Alex’s  friend in the moving business.

The relationships here are rich, layered, and believable.  People hurt, grow in depth, cry tears that will flow over into your own heart, and when it happen, their happiness becomes yours as well.

Yes, there was one part where the author almost lost me. Whew! Didn’t happen.  Nice save.

I adored this story.  I will be waiting impatiently for the next in the series.  And yes I’m so happy to have found a new author to read.  Win, win, and win.

Totally recommended this one.

 

Cover art: Jay Aheer.  Nice beach scene.  But I wish for a little more elements from the novel.  Just a little too generic.

Sales Links:

Book Details:

ebook
Published October 4th 2018 (first published October 2nd 2018)

A MelanieM Review: Grasmere Cottage Mystery Trilogy by Dahlia Donovan

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

A Romantic Cosy Mystery Trilogy by  author Dahlia Donovan on a cosy mystery adventure in Grasmere Cottage. With love, wit, and a murder to solve, life for Valor and Bishan is about to get bloomin’ complicated in this sweet gay romance that covers three stories and will leave you wanting more. 

The stories appear together under one cover in paperback format at Hot Tree Publishing, also separately in all eBook formats wherein lies the rub for me.  See, I was lucky to read it as one story (still not sure how the author and publisher gave me the paperback version in e format).  Cal them.  Because read in one flowing story?  The best thing ever!!

I didn’t realize they were actual separate stories until I went back to the author to beg her to write more Grasmere Cottage cosies. That’s when I found out these were three stories not one and this couple was, at least, temporarily on hold for more.  But after reading these amazing tales you will see why I’m holding out  for the trilogy to   turn into a series.  Why Valor and Bish have captured my imagination along with my heart.

Especially when the author hooks them up with one really ugly serial killer intent on destroying their hard won love and  sanctuary in Grasmere Cottage. Oh what a marvelous couple Dahlia Donovan has created here.  Unusual and perfect for each other, each with their own fascinating back histories and personalities that when mixed together become a complex, highly intelligent, loving, and absolutely unique crime fighting couple.

Talk about your layers!  Valor Tarquin Scott, tossed out of the family (for being gay) highly bred society son, now running a niche bakery and living happily with Bish in what his family refers to as his grubby little cottage.  Bishan Tambol, autistic, has been able to turn his love of music into a career with the London Symphony Orchestra. That together with their cat, and a love of the stories of the detective Poirot given them a contented and lovely life together.  Plus the support of Bish’s huge family too.

Then the killer strikes in their garden and nothing is the same.

Donovan’s character of Bish, his struggles with his autism, especially once his routine’s are destroyed when the killer infiltrates their lives is incredibly realistic and often painful.  You’ve come to care so quickly for this pair and Bish.  And to see how shattered Bish becomes at points just hurts.  And how amazing when he finds his strength and methods to cope to work the puzzles to help find the killer.  And Valor too is just that splendid bundle of depth and determination that makes you to just cheer him on, him and Bish naturally.  To push through all the vile threats of not just a murderer but that of Valor’s family also intent on derailing his life for their own purposes as well.

This book, oops, these books truly have everything to keep you glued to the pages.  A plot that will keep you guessing right up until the end, so many twists and turns that the suspense is a white knuckle read all the way, so much heart and love because the relationship is just so  endearing. And  finally, because these are people/characters you may never have met before, loving each other, and succeeding to vanquish evil and live happily, we assume, ever after in Grasmere Cottage.  Fighting the righteous gnome/frog wars!

Really, Dahlia Donovan!  If for no other reason.  I need more gnome/frog wars!

So pick these up.  They will do great things for your heart.  Stupendous characters who love each other in a cottage complete with cat and crazy neighbor.    The plots are terrific, the writing marvelous, and all things combined…makes these the cosies of your heart.  Don’t miss out.  I highly recommend them one and all.

 

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Book Covers:  Claire Smith.  I love the covers for the whole series.  Fun, out of the box for an english cozie but this artist has always surprised me and continues to do so.  I like it.Grasmere Cottage Mystery Trilogy by Dahlia Donovan  Paperback     Hot Tree Publishing 

 

Dead in the Garden (Grasmere Mystery #1):

Dead body in the garden? Check.

Mystery to solve? Check.

Police focused on the wrong person? Not good.
All grown up and graduated, Valor Tarquin Scott, son to Earl and Countess Scott, owns The Ginger’s Bread, a biscuit shop, in Grasmere in the Lake District. The love of his life, Bishan Tamboli, has turned his music studies into a successful career playing with the London Symphony Orchestra. It’s a perfect life with their cat, spending evenings watching Poirot on the television.

The nightmare begins with one dead former schoolmate, leading police to believe Bishan is responsible.

Valor struggles to solve the cryptic puzzles left behind in a race to prove Bishan’s innocence.

He can’t help wondering how far the body count will rise before they manage to stop the killer.

 

Sales Links:   Hot Tree Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 128 pages
Published October 6th 2018 by Hot Tree Publishing
ASIN B07FLVZR68
Edition Language English

Dead in the Pond (Grasmere Cottage Mystery #2)

Killer on the loose? Check.

Frogs in the garden? Check.

Playing a twisted game with a killer? Not good.

Bishan Tamboli struggles to recover from his false arrest. He worries the police still aren’t as convinced about his innocence. With his longtime boyfriend, Valor, at his side, he intends to solve the puzzles and catch the murderer amongst their former schoolmates.

He’s fought hard for his independence as an autistic and refuses to throw it all away because of a nameless monster. With friends and family in the killer’s crosshairs, Bishan fears the mystery will bring the end of everything and everyone he loves.

 

 

Sales Links:  Hot Tree Publishing | Amazon

Book Details: Kindle Edition, 120 pages
Expected publication: October 13th 2018 by Hot Tree Publishing
ASINB07FM3FL2V
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Grasmere Cottage Mystery #2

Dead in the Shop (Grasmere Cottage Mystery #3) :

Deadly fire? Check.

Fear-induced heart attack imminent? Check.

Time running out on them? Not good.

Valor Scott wants nothing more than to enjoy life in his little cottage with his boyfriend. The shadows of a serial killer continue to haunt him, though. He only wants the living nightmare to end. He battles one catastrophic event after the other, intent on bringing his loved ones through to the other side safely.

As their killer finally comes out into the open, Valor finds himself face-to-face with an obsessed murderer intent on destroying everyone in their path.

 

 

 

Sales Links:  Hot Tree Publishing Amazon

Book Details:Kindle

Edition, 121 pages
Expected publication: October 20th 2018 by Hot Tree Publishing
ASINB07FW12FR8
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesGrasmere Cottage Mystery #3

 

 

Review Tour and Giveaway for Any Given Lifetime by Leta Blake

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Length: 70,000 words approx.
 
Cover Design: Dar Albert @ Wicked Smart Designs
 
Blurb



Neil isn’t a ghost, but he feels like one. Reincarnated with all his memories from his prior life, he spent twenty years trapped in a child’s body, wanting nothing more than to grow up and reclaim the love of his life.


As an adult, Neil finds there’s more than lost time separating them. Joshua has built a beautiful life since Neil’s death, and how exactly is Neil supposed to introduce himself? As Joshua’s long-dead lover in a new body? Heartbroken and hopeless, Neil takes refuge in his work, developing microscopic robots called nanites that can produce medical miracles.


When Joshua meets a young scientist working on a medical project, his soul senses something his rational mind can’t believe. Has Neil truly come back to him after twenty years? And if the impossible is real, can they be together at long last?


Any Given Lifetime is a stand-alone, slow burn, second chance gay romance by Leta Blake featuring reincarnation and true love. This story includes some angst, some steam, an age gap, and, of course, a happy ending.

 
Author Bio
 

Author of the bestselling book Smoky Mountain Dreams and the fan favorite Training Season, Leta Blake’s educational and professional background is in psychology and finance, respectively. However, her passion has always been for writing. She enjoys crafting romance stories and exploring the psyches of made up people. At home in the Southern U.S., Leta works hard at achieving balance between her day job, her writing, and her family.

 

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Read Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Review here.  We absolutely recommend it.