A MelanieM Audio Review: Devil Take Me anthology by Rhys Ford , Ginn Hale ,Jordan L. Hawk ,T.A. Moore ,C.S. Poe ,Jordan Castillo Price , and Greg Tremblay (Narrator)

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Rating 5 stars out of 5

Temptation lurks around every corner in worlds sometimes dark, sometimes lurid. Giving in is both dangerous and satisfying, though never in the ways one expects. While these enticements offer a vast range of benefits and boons, the cost is a soul and the devil expects his due. Sometimes suave and charming or calculating and cruel, these devils have schemes and desires of their own. They can be creatures to run away from… or toward.

Join the most unique and celebrated authors of LGBT urban fantasy and paranormal fiction for a fast-paced and unpredictable ride, from a city on the other side of reality, to a world suspended in dusk, to a twisted version of the 1960s and 70s.

Meet devils in top hats and waistcoats, a defrocked motorcycle-riding priest, and a genderfluid antihero—among many more. Full of humor, romance, horror, action, intrigue, and magic, these stories have one common element….

They’re one hell of a good time.

5 Stars ~ just 5 stars because even if the ratings sorts of varied up and down ever so slightly in my mind per tale this is an exemplary collection of stories from a group of authors who know their way around the supernatural narrative.  Boy howdy, how they delivered.  Chilling, humorous, thought provoking, wildly imaginative, and filled with love and loyalty that borders on horror, every tale here is one to be savored.  So no ratings from here on out, they are just incredible in their own way.

Infernal Affairs by Jordan L. Hawk
Jordan L. Hawk launches the collection with a tale that’s one of my favorite’s. A demon Ralgath, on his first assignment as a crossroads demon, gets played by a gorgeous mortal, Chess, who screws Ralgath (literally) into giving them a contract for superhero powers so they can go out into the world and fight for good.  Ralgath’s boss is not happy with him, and the subsequent funny actions and events lead to Ralgath meeting up with Chase again.  This is a rich story, full of laughs, love, adventure, redemption, and heroes.  Done with in the wonderful Jordan L. Hawk style, with outstanding plot and characters so well done you wanted more.

Collared by TA Moore
“Sometimes, when you couldn’t change what was going on and you didn’t want to understand it, all you could do was shove it under the bed and make sure your toes didn’t stick out from the covers.”

TA Moore has become an author whose stories I look out for.  They twist and turn with the unusual and the edgy.  That’s very apparent here with Collared and the relationship between Jack and Meth.  It evolves, or better the truth of their relationship is slowly revealed over the course of the story.  However, it’s not so evident at the beginning when Jack sets out to track down a missing child.  It’s an horrific case, one that grows worse the more details that are gathered.  Jack’s background too is shown and the dynamics between Jack, Meth, and the other players becomes more complicated and fascinating.

This story had a way of sending me running off for more of this author immediately because everything was so spot on.  The world building, characters, storyline and ending.  Even down to the small chilling details that would come in the future.  Just amazing.  Would that I see more of this world, Jack, and Meth.  More cases, more of their haunting and haunted relationship. I would tell you this is a favorite of mine (it is), but that is going to get redundant after a while.

Counterfeit Viscount by Ginn Hale

.The Viscount Archibald is leading a double life. Since he’s soll his soul to Nimble, he becomes Archie and descends into the underbelly of the town to pay his due every three months. This allows him to keep his title and have his revenge against his uncle. This is alternative history where Prodigals, the descendants of fallen angels who have been converted by the Church, live alongside humans. A prodigal boy in service to a lord is afraid a fellow servant who’s gone missing was murdered at the Dee Club after its Sunday fights.

This story was one of the ones that was a little dense at the beginning.  It took time to get into.  Although once Archie and Nimble’s background become clear, I become more connected to them and this story.  The last section contained most of the action and held my attention.  This was probably the one story that I scrambled through.

11:59 by C.S. Poe
“He is all that stands between the innocent and the flesh-eating monsters who were once human. Because Asuka no longer dreams, he cannot be chased into consciousness by one of the nightmares.”

CS Poe is another name that’s landed on my must read list.  Such a marvelous, surprising author of great narrative depth.  This story is a perfect example of why you should search out their tales.  Incredible worldbuilding, endlessly fascinating, it starts with Asuka, who sold his soul to the devil so he would never dream again, lose the nightmares, and prevent him from becoming a monster.  But like all contracts with the devil, there’s the fine prints, and all the dreams are lost, including the ones that bring the hope, and the wishes, and much more.

Next up is Merrick, who has spent his time studying mythology and believes he knows the source of the nightmares and how they can be destroyed if he and Asuka work together.

What follows is an exciting, tautly constructed tale, full of mythology, gripping with suspense and action, twists and turns, plus an ending that will leave your jaw hanging open.

Wonderland City by Rhys Ford
“Back before I met the Devil and bled my soul out into his hands, I’d have thought chasing a cigar-munching white bunny with pink eyes was something I’d only run into after I chewed on a few peyote buttons.
Now it was a typical Tuesday.”

A Rhys Ford story can bring out the fangyrl in me and Wonderland City is a perfect example why.  Ford takes Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice in Wonderland and gives it a warped, wonderful further twist  Here the Queen of Heart’s has been executed, Xander Spade sold his soul to the Devil because, hey, he was a very naive and dumb kid at the time, who ended in down the Rabbit hole.

Then the Devil,Az, says he will return Xander’s soul if he will just do a favor…yeah, right.

This is my all time favorite story here.  You meet all the characters you might expect to meet in Wonderland…just don’t expect them and it to look and things to go as you would think. Things here are convoluted, masterfully warped, the scenes vivid and sharp, and, each twist more memorable than the last.

Dark Favors by Jordan Castillo Price
“The driver looked me up and down and said, “You strike me as a perceptive young man.” That really should’ve been my first clue that I was dealing with the Prince of Lies.”

Johnny Lockheart has been offered the chance to get his soul back from the Devil if he murders a TV star, but her bodyguard Adam is going to have something to say about that. Both of them are Chosen, which means that they trade favors for power and know how the world really works stripped of illusion by the Sight. The flashbacks help us understand how Johnny ends up the way he is, and are well timed to pack a punch. This book makes better use of the idea of evil being seductive, whereas the other books focus on the grotesque, or horror elements.

Dark Favors was the perfect way to end this collection.  Strong, effective, and, for me, it held just that ever so fleeting hint of bittersweetness or darkness one needs when reading a collection of stories dealing with men who have sold their souls to the Devil. It is exactly how this story should end and what I would expect from Jordan Castillo Price, that extra depth that makes a story so memorable. 

Greg Tremblay did a superlative job with all the many voices here.  From little girls to white rabbits, to various demons to gender fluid humans and much more, he handles each one effortlessly.  It was such a pleasure to listen to each and every story.  The time just flew by.  He was the  perfect match for this collection!

Cover art: Reece Notley.  That model does draw your eye.  What does it represent to you?  One of the 7 deadly sins?  Could be….

Sales Links:   DSP Publications   |  AmazonAudible |

 

Audiobook Details:

 

Audible Audio, Unabridged
Published December 27th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press (first published October 16th 2018)
Original TitleDevil Take Me
ASINB07L5Y3M59
Edition LanguageEnglish

More Poll Results and Book Cover Questions. This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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More Poll Results and Book Cover Questions.

 

More results from last week’s polls on book covers.  I really did sort of expect these tbh.  Yes readers to look and choose books by their covers, yes, they look at the names of the cover artists, and while they say they might not have a preference over type of cover, when it comes right down to it?  They love a “painted” cover over of photograph.  Maybe I should look at demographics on that one as that is my preference as well.

This week Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is sending out our questionnaires to publishers and cover artists, to get a feel on the state of book covers today, how many of these artists came to be book cover artists and much more.  I have included the questions I received from our readers in our form.  I can’t wait to get back the answers!

If you have more questions, please continue to send them in, it’s never too late to revise our form as we send it out to more people.

With stories these days, you might see the same or re-released/revised story several times.  That means multiple covers, eBook and audio formats too.  Each time it’s job is the same.  Reach out to readers, grab their attention, make them want to read or listen to that story with a cover that looks fresh and vibrant!  Dramatic, current, and catchy.  Wow!  That’s an artistic job and a half.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Above are three different covers for Andre Norton’s Witch World.  One from 2016 and the original from 1963.  At the end there was one more version.  1986.  Each era leaving its mark on the design and style of the cover.  And yes, mine is the 1963 version which I still have.  I have to admit each speaks to me in a different way.  What do they say to you?  Which do you prefer? And if you aren’t familiar with Andre Norton, what a fantastic author awaits you!

When covers are done beautifully, we remember them.  And the artist that made that cover sing to us.  And of course, we picked that book right up, perhaps even again, to dive into the story and get lost in another world of an author’s creation.   This from someone who was up til 4am with a new Rhys Ford story…lol Yes, the cover of that story is fabulous!

So yes, along with all of you, I’m dying to know what answers will be coming back our way from these amazing artists and the publishers.  What wonderful Sundays we have ahead of us!

 

This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, January 27:

  • More Poll Results and Book Cover Questions.
  • This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
  • Audio Release Blitz K.A. Merikan – Road Of No Return

Monday, January 28:

  • Release Blitz Marina Vivancos – Rat Park
  • BLITZ Escaping Mortality by Sara Dobie Bauer
  • PROMO TARA LAIN on The Case of the Voracious Vintner
  • A Stella Review The Fairy Pond by Jason Black
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Escaping Mortality by Sara Dobie Bauer
  • A MelanieM Audio Review: Devil Take Me anthology by Rhys Ford , Ginn Hale ,Jordan L. Hawk ,T.A. Moore ,C.S. Poe ,Jordan Castillo Price , and Greg Tremblay (Narrator)

Tuesday, January, 29:

  • BLITZ Imminent Dawn by R.R. Campbell
  • AUDIO BLITZ Out in the Deep (Out in College #1) by Lane Hayes and Michael Pauley (Narrator)
  • Release Blitz for   Gage, Trenton Security Book 3, by JM Dabney
  • Book Blast – Bad Deal by Ember-Raine Winters & Faith Ryan
  • A Lucy Review Forever Starts At Midnight by Kim Breyon
  • A Caryn Release Day Review: Nomad’s Dream by August Li
  • An Alisa Release Day Review: The Case of the Voracious Vintner (Middlemark Mysteries #2) by Tara Lain

Wednesday, January 30:

  • Release Blitz – The Other Book – Roe Horvat
  • PROMO AUGUST LI on Nomad’s Dream
  • Cover Reveal, – Touch Of A Yellow Sun – V.L. Locey
  • A Stella Release Day Review: Nomad’s Dream by August Li
  • A MelanieM Review: Inside Out by Aimee Nicole Walker
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Any Old Diamonds (Lilywhite Boys #1) by K.J. Charles

Thursday, January 31:

  • BLITZ Living on the Inside by Londra Laine
  • DSP COVER REVEAL Inked Music by Sean Michael
  • An Ashlez Review Bad Deal by Ember by Raine Winters & Faith
  • A Free Dreamer Review The Witchin’ Canoe by Mel Bossa
  • A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Contact by M.D. Neu
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: A Late Summer Night’s Dream by Catherine Curzon

Friday, February 1:

  • COVER REVEAL Forlorn by Elvira Bell
  • Terrible Things by Beth Bolden Blog Tour 
  • Inside Out by Aimee Nicole Walker Blog Tour
  • An Alisa Review : Awakenings and French Songs by Nell Iris
  • A Lila Release Day Review: Escape to Paradise (A Planet Called Wish #4) by Caitlin Ricci
  • A MelanieM Audio Review:His Consort by Mary Calmes and (Narrated by Scott Smith)

Saturday, February 2:

  • BOOK BLAST – The Selkie Prince’s Forbidden Mate (The Royal Alphas series, Book 4) by J.J. Masters

 

Audio Release Blitz and Giveaway for Road Of No Return (Sex and Mayhem series) by K.A. Merikan and Wyatt Baker (Narrator)

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Length: 11hrs 30mins
 
Narrated by: Wyatt Baker
 
Cover Design: Natasha Snow
 
Blurb
 

Don’t talk to strangers.


Zak: Tattoo artist. Independent. Doesn’t do relationships.


Stitch: Outlaw biker. Deep in the closet. Doesn’t share his property.


On the day of Stitch’s divorce, lust personified enters the biker bar he’s celebrating at. Tattooed all over, pierced, confident, and hot as hellfire, Zak is the bone Stitch has waited for life to throw him. All Stitch wants is a sniff, a taste, a lick. What follows instead is gluttony of the most carnal sort, and nothing will ever be the same. Forced to hide his new love affair from the whole world, Stitch juggles family, club life, and crime, but it’s only a matter of time until it becomes too hard.


Zak moves to Lake Valley in search of peace and quiet, but when he puts his hand into the jaws of a Hound of Valhalla, life gets all but simple. In order to be with Stitch, Zak’s biker wet dream, he has to crawl right back into the closet. As heated as the relationship is, the secrets, the hiding, the violence, jealousy, and conservative attitudes in the town rub Zak in all the wrong ways. When pretending he doesn’t know what his man does becomes impossible, Zak needs to decide if life with an outlaw biker is really what he wants.


As club life and the love affair collide, all that’s left in Zak and Stitch’s life is mayhem.


Warning: Contains adult content – a gritty storyline, explicit language, violence, and torture

K. A. Merikan is the pen name for Kat and Agnes Merikan, a team of writers, who are taken for sisters with surprising regularity. Kat’s the mean sergeant and survival specialist of the duo, never hesitating to kick Agnes’s ass when she’s slacking off. Her memory works like an easy-access catalogue, which allows her to keep up with both book details and social media. Also works as the emergency GPS. Agnes is the Merikan nitpicker, usually found busy with formatting and research. Her attention tends to be scattered, and despite pushing thirty, she needs to apply makeup to buy alcohol. Self-proclaimed queen of the roads.


They love the weird and wonderful, stepping out of the box, and bending stereotypes both in life and books. When you pick up a Merikan book, there’s one thing you can be sure of – it will be full of surprises.


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Poll Results, Posts, and This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Poll Results, Future Posts, and  How We Look At Covers

I loved looking at our poll results from last Sunday.  It turns out that most of our readers like short LGBT stories and find the ones they are reading pretty enjoyable.  Also gleaned from the polls? Most of the books are purchased from Amazon first, then the publishers, then a third source, which is probably not a surprise to anyone as that juggernaut  continues to plow on with major consequences for all, not just the book world.  Only time it seems will be able to stop Amazon.  All others will have to adjust.

Audiobooks?  A surprise!  I really thought our numbers would reflect the industry’s here.  But for our readers only 50 percent listen to audiobooks, 43 percent don’t, and the rest don’t but can’t tell you why.  Huh.  According to the  industry many more are listening to books these days than actually  reading them.  A figure I   also find surprising.  Maybe the real answer lies somewhere in between.  Another assumption of mine?  That more readers actually followed narrators but that turned out not to be true.  They listened to books no matter who narrated them.  Now I’m sure people actually do look for certain narrators. I certainly do.  But it doesn’t stop them from listening to stories with other narrators, including narrators they may be unfamiliar with.  Which is great news for new narrators and all companies who produce audiobooks.

Then it comes down to book covers. Do they still matter?  The answer is a resounding yes!  A majority of our readers, 72 percent, say covers matter.  Which might surprise some in this age of the eBook but it shouldn’t because those covers are heavily featured too.  In tours, ads, and yes, on the books themselves on publishers sites and Amazon.  People still choose books by their covers (29 percent) but no one said they don’t look at them.  Everyone looks at them and has a judgement about them.  Do you love them?  Do they make you go meh?  Do you glance over them or is your attention grabbed immediately?  Are you transported to another world or into a story?   Did the artist do their job?  And what is their job?

And do you, my readers, sense a post coming on? lol

Why yes, you do!

You see, I have been passionate about covers all my reading life, since the first cover caught my attention and made me want to pick it up and ask “what’s this about?”  I’ve been asking that question ever since no matter the  genre.  Great artists continue to pull me in.  I even have an oil  painting on my wall that was once the cover of a book.  It’s gorgeous.  I can look at certain covers and at a glance know that it was done by Garrett Leigh or Paul Richmond, Simone’ or Anne Cain.  There’s a style , a tone that shouts that artist’s name.  The same goes for Reese Dante.  A Reece Notley cover?  Yep.  Aisha Akeju is another who’s artist is quirky and different.  Just look at that artist’s covers for Mell Eight’s series.

When I think of new or newer artists that stand out, Natasha Snow jumps to mind.  Her covers are  extremely popular and well done. Meredith Russell and Kris Jacen too.

I love it when I see a gorgeous cover that has been carefully crafted so that its not only dramatic but that it tells a story, as it should.  Covers have a job to do.  And many are forgetting that these days.

If I had a Skittle for every cover that had nothing to do with the story within, that seemed generic, that had a half naked male torso on it and left it at that, etc, I would have a gallon full.

Boy, I struggled to find great covers this year.  First time ever.

So here we go.

 

And if you could ask a cover artist any question, what would it be?  Send them in and be entered in our Ask A Cover Artist Giveaway!  Ends in 2 weeks.

And I have also give you all three covers for the amazing novel,  The Left Hand of Darkness (Hainish Cycle #4) by Ursula K. Le Guin.  My version was that first one.  Each was a different edition with, of course, a different cover.  What do you think of them and which do you prefer?  And why?  And how many of you have read this story?  Curious on my part…..

 

This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, January 20:

  • Poll Results, Posts, and This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
  • Freebie Blitz for Shane and Trey (Enemies to Lovers #1) by Anyta Sunday

Monday, January 21:

  • Cover Reveal  – Rat Park by Marina Vivancos
  • Release Day Blitz Rough Terrain (Out of Uniform #7) by Annabeth Albert
  • BLITZ Unlocking the Doctor’s Heart by Liam Livings
  •  PROMO R.L. Merrill
  • An Alisa Review: Elemental Magick (The Donovan Coven #1) by Jacki James
  • A Stella Review: How Not to Blend (Lovestrong #1) by Susan Hawke
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review Out in the Offense by Lane Hayes

Tuesday, January 22:

  • Review Tour – V.L. Locey – One-On-One (Cayuga Cougars #5)
  • BLITZ Contact by M.D. Neu
  • Tour for Abaddon’s Locusts (A BJ Vinson Mystery #5) by Don Travis
  • An Ashlez Release Day Review: The Princess of Baker Street by Mia Kerick
  • An Alisa Review: At Home (Finding Home #1) by Carly Marie
  • An Ashlez Review: I Wished For You by Colette Davison
  • A MelanieM Review: One-On-One (Cayuga Cougars #5) by  V.L. Locey

Wednesday, January 23:

  • In the Spotlight Tour and Giveaway:If I Ever by SE Jakes
  • BLITZ Half Life by Gregory L. Norris
  • Blog Tour Rough Terrain (Out of Uniform #7) by Annabeth Albert
  •  PROMO Claudia Mayrant
  • An Alisa Review: Home is Where The Heart Is (Isle of Misfit Toys) by Pelaam
  • A Lucy Review: Pisces Floors Taurus (Signs of Love #4.5) by Anyta Sunday
  • A MelanieM Review: Sins of the Son (Arcadia Trust, #3) by Christian Baines

Thursday, January 24:

  • Release Blitz – I Wished For You by Colette Davison
  • BLITZ The Fairy Pond by Jason Black
  •  PROMO A. Nybo
  • A Lucy Review:  Love Around the Corner (New Milton #1.5) by Sally Malcolm
  • An Alisa Review : There’s Something about Flying by Schuyler L’Roux
  • A MelanieM Review: At War with a Broken Heart by Dahlia Donovan

Friday, January 25:

  • Ward Maia on Beneath These Fields
  • Blog Tour Stay by KM Neuhold
  • Blog Tour for A World Apart by Mel Gough
  • An Alisa Review Gargoyle’s Embrace (Polar Nights #3) by Siryn Sueng
  • A Stella Review: Living on the Inside by Londra Laine
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: Beneath These Fields ( World of Love) by Ward Maia
  • A Jeri Review: Shane and Trey (Enemies to Lovers #1) by Anyta Sunday

Saturday, January 26:

  • Release Blitz – Jessie Pinkham – Acts Of Service
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review – See the Light by Kate McMurray

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audio Review:Fire and Granite (Carlisle Deputies #2) by Andrew Grey and Greg Tremblay (Narrator)

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

When Judge Andrew Phillips’s life is threatened by a criminal who escaped while being transported to prison, Sheriff’s Deputy Clay Brown steps up to protect Andrew 24/7 and each man learns the other is not who he thought he was.  Neither man previously thought highly of the other, having been across the bench in the courtroom many times through the years.  Andrew is not the cold hard persona he presents. And Clay is more than the stern-faced deputy with no personality Andrew perceived he was.

Harper, the criminal who escaped, is Clay’s cousin, not a close connection, but nevertheless, Clay has some insight into their family situation that helps with the case.  In the meantime, just as Andrew finds his house has been ransacked by Harper, he receives a call telling him his sister’s depression is so severe she’s been hospitalized, and she’s named him guardian of her children.  Though upset about his own situation, he rushes to her side. 

And there is the basis for most of the story.  As the men try to hide from Harper and both attempt to comfort the children, they stay with Clay, and both men discover they have feelings for one another. The ups and downs and dramatic turns in the story are mostly centered around Harper and his threatening texts to Andrew and Clay’s attempts to track him down.  There is a small overlap with a few characters from the Carlisle Cops series as Clay works with Red and Carter and Andrew’s niece and nephew play with Carter and Donald’s little boy.  I always enjoy seeing where other characters are in their lives when some time has passed. 

One of the major issues that troubled me, however, is that Andrew revealed to Clay that he’d seen Harper in a park known to be a gay men’s hookup area prior to the trial, but he didn’t recuse himself from being judge. He stressed that he maintained impartiality but it seems to me that would have been a violation of ethics.  The explanation didn’t sit well with me, especially since the convict was convinced Andrew had treated him poorly because of seeing him at the park.

The ending was as sweet as one would expect from an Andrew Grey story and all worked out well. Narrator Greg Tremblay was as outstanding as usual and gave me several lovely hours of listening pleasure.  He doesn’t just read a story—he lives the story, adding drama and humor to the vocalizations where indicated, making his narration top notch. 

The cover by Kanaka features a muscular man wearing a flak jacket with the word police emblazoned at the top. It fits the story nicely.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Audible | iTunes

Audio Details:

Listening length: 6 hours and 40 minutes

Audiobook, 7 pages
Published November 1st 2018 by Dreamspinner Press (first published July 10th 2018)
Original Title Fire and Granite
ISBN 139781641081603
Edition Language English
Series Carlisle Deputies #2

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audio Review :The Missing Ingredient by Brian Lancaster and Seb Yarrick (Narrator)

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Chef Marcus Vine is a busy man, running his own popular restaurant in the UK and opening another with an investment partner in New York. But he finds time to step in and help out when he realizes his former best friend’s family needs him. Raine died a year ago and her husband, Tom, is struggling to be everything to his two daughters. 

With Marcus’s help and support, their lives take a turn for the better. And along the way, Marcus’s feelings for Tom—unrequited love—take on a renewed life. And then one day, Tom confesses his attraction to Marcus. He’s not gay, of course. That’s reiterated a number of times. So much so, that this reviewer found it distasteful when they went from that declaration to a simple kiss to penetrative sex. If one isn’t gay, why not try frottage or fellatio first? It just felt wrong and rushed. 

And then, of course, when Tom realizes Marcus has feelings for him, he backs off, and Marcus finds out he’s seeing a woman. So we have the heartbreak action, and the crisis comes when one of the girls needs medical attention and Marcus saves the day. But is Tom grateful? Nope. Now we have the period of breaking off, cooling down, and then the finale with the grand sweeping gesture. And the ending was… There’s not really a way to describe it. Granted, I was listening to an audiobook, but it seemed really bizarre to me—definitely from the pages of an old-fashioned dime novel romance.

Granted all these stories are based on old tropes. And granted, audiobooks pass quickly and there’s no chance to reread sections for clarity, so I could be wrong in my assessment. However, I will say that Seb Yarrick did a nice job on the narration. With a very British accent, he brought authenticity to the feel of the story. But I’m not a fan of gay for you when the character refuses to identify as anything but straight, even after sex, so I can’t rate this higher than 3 stars. As it is, the 3 stars were mostly earned by the narrator.

The cover by Aaron Anderson is a typical Dreamspun cover, with the circle in the center that, in this case, features a handsome man in chef’s coat in front and a man in a bathtub in the background. That is definitely not a scene from the story, but at least the colors are bright and the guy is attractive.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | AmazonAudible | iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Audiobook, 5 pages
Published November 8th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press (first published August 7th 2018)
Edition Language English

Thoughts on Trends and This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Thoughts on Trends in 2019…

 

Going into 2019 my mind is full of trends I’m seeing in books these days.  Some good, some imo not so great, some it’s hard to tell yet because it’s too early to see where certain paths will take us.  On certain things we’re stumbling about looking for footing, on others striding confidently forward.  The bookworld can be such a strange place at times for all…readers, writers, publishers, and cover artists alike.  Even narrators.  What is trending going into 2019?  Hmmm.  There’s the rub.  Might be hard to figure out.

But let’s try some polls:

 

That should give us a start.  I know where I’m going with all this, believe me.  And I have some people I want to send interview questions out to.  Hopefully this will be a fun and illuminating month or two.  I never know!  lol.

Meanwhile we are expecting snow.  It’s been a while since we’ve had any significant accumulation.  I wonder what the dogs will think of this?  It will be perfect reading and listening weather.  I hope everyone is finding their way into January and 2019 safely and happily.

Happy Reading and Listening!

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, January 13:

  • Thoughts on Trends and This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
  • Release Blitz – Nell Iris – Awakenings and French Songs

Monday, January 14:

  • PROMO Tia Fielding
  • BLITZ Valor by Karrie Roman
  • Release Day Blitz Rough Terrain (Out of Uniform #7) by Annabeth
  • A VVivacious Review: Stay by KM Neuhold
  • A Lucy Review : Perfect Match by AG Meiers
  • A Barb the  Zany Old Lady Review : Rough Terrain (Out of Uniform #7) by Annabeth Albert

Tuesday, January 15:

  • In the Spotlight Tour and Giveaway: Perfect Match by AG Meiers
  • How Not to Blend by Susan Hawke Release Blitz and Giveaway
  • Cover Reveal for I Wished For You by Colette Davison
  • A Jeri Release Day Review: Ten (Love by Numbers) by Tia Fielding
  • A MelanieM: Review: Whiskey and Moonshine by Elizabeth Noble
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audio Review :The Missing Ingredient by Brian Lancaster and Seb Yarrick (Narrator)

Wednesday, January 16:

  • BLITZ Stalker/s by L.J. Hasbrouck
  • Boost Release Blitz & Review Tour – V.L. Locey – One-On-One
  • Release Blitz for Pisces Floors Taurus by Anyta Sunday
  • An Alisa Review You. Forever. Always. (The Underdogs #3) by KA Merikan
  • A Chaos Moondrawn Release Day Review: The Spirit Key (Lock and Key #1) by Parker Williams
  • A MelanieM Review: Chasing Forever (This Time Forever #3) by Kelly Jensen

Thursday, January 17:

  • New Release Tour for Sins of the Son by Christian Baines
  • PROMO Parker William
  • Cover Reveal for In Case You Missed It by S. M. James
  • A MelanieM Review:  Rough Terrain (Out of Uniform #7) by Annabeth Albert
  • A MelanieM Review: Away in a Manger by JC Owens

Friday, January 18:

  • Review Tour – Is It Over Yet – LA Witt
  • Out in the Offense by Lane Hayes Blog Tour
  • An Alisa Release Day Review: Place Setting by Claudia Mayrant
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Is It Over Yet? by L.A. Witt
  • A MelanieM Review: You Forever Always by KA Merikan

Saturday, January 19:

  • Release Blitz – The Summoner’s Path (D’Vaire #10) by Jessamyn Kingley

 

 

 

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audio Review: The Alpha Heir (Kingdom of Askara #2) by Victoria Sue and Joel Leslie (Narrator)

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Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

 

I enjoyed this sequel to The Alpha King almost as much as I enjoyed the original. But I didn’t feel the pull and the love between the MCs as much in this one, mostly because of their life circumstances and the way the story was written—they were enemies for quite some time. Toward the end, when they finally acknowledge and share their love, it was well worth the wait. And speaking of the end, I thoroughly enjoyed the cameo appearance of Luca in his role as the Alpha King. It’s evident he wears the cloak of responsibility regally.

In the early stages of this story, we meet both Caleb and Taegan, in different scenarios and with totally opposite life circumstances. Taegan is the leader of the human rebel forces in a different pack area of the kingdom of Askara from where The Alpha King took place. These rebels have much to lose since the wolves are snatching their children to use not only for dangerous work but now for unknown purposes. As an aside here I just have to say that Joel Leslie’s childrens’ voices were too precious for words! Loved, loved, loved them!

Teagan’s mother is still with him and he has the protection, counsel and support of Silas, a 200-year-old lone wolf. We learn late in the story about why Silas has made himself available to watch over Teagan, a human, but throughout the book he’s extremely helpful in helping Teagan solve the puzzle of the missing children, the dastardly plans of the reigning alpha, and the very puzzling circumstances of why Caleb, though a wolf, would be bound in chains, starved, beaten, and tortured.

To be honest, I don’t recall every little detail of the story—mostly because I was swept along in my enjoyment of the narration and in understanding the complexity of events as they unfolded. Given the fact that I generally start and stop an audiobook frequently over the course of several days, I have to admit that my total recall is lacking. However, what I can say is that Caleb is sweetly endearing, and as he begins to heal and get stronger, it’s evident that he does indeed  have the stuff an Alpha Heir is made of. Will he get the opportunity to present himself as the heir? Well, that’s why readers should pick up this book, preferably in audio form so Joel Leslie can bring the huge cast of characters to life and tell you the tale.

Over the course of the second half of the book, even though it seems impossible, the human and the wolf realize they are lifemates, but if Caleb is to claim his rightful place as Alpha, he’ll need to have an Omega wolf at his side, according to the laws that govern them. Add to that, Teagan’s natural tendency to put others ahead of himself, and Caleb’s low self-worth—beaten into him over the course of his six-year persecution, and we have an interesting quandary. By all means, if you like shifter stories and a little fantasy added into your paranormal, this series is the one to choose. Highly recommend

Sales Links:  Amazon | Audible

Audiobook Details:

7 hours and 34 minutes

Audible Audio, Unabridged, 8 pages
Published December 19th 2017 by Victoria Sue (first published September 4th 2017)
ASIN B078BGHCJF
Edition Language English
Series Kingdom of Askara #2

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audio Review: The Soldati Prince (Soldati Hearts #1) by Charlie Cochet and Manuel Pombo (Narrator)

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

This was a fairly short audiobook but it was long on enjoyment.  A different take on shifters, Charlie Cochet brings us tiger shifters (of course—big cats are her favorites!), but they are from a different world—a world of magical creatures and warriors who defend humanity from the darkness. 

Riley Murrough is just a regular guy and as he’s going about his work one day he’s suddenly in a life or death struggle with demons. Who knew?  When the battle is over and he realizes he’s been helped by a group of tigers who shift to human form, he’s sure he’s dreaming.  But the tattoo that has appeared on his arm matches that of the king of these creatures—the Soldati King, and Riley is his Prince, his lifemate. 

No insta-love here, however, as Khalon, the king, denies his connection to Riley.  He has his reasons and though Riley finally faces facts and realizes he needs to accept the rejection, the magical realm has different plans for them. 

This was a lively adventure, a bit too short to get into a lot of detail, but certainly enough detail to whet my appetite for more.  I’ve already moved the next book in this series to my TBR.   

The narration was good, though it could have been better. Manuel Pombo had a very pleasing voice but his narration was quite fast—almost as if he was rushing to finish by a short deadline.  And the differentiation between the two MCs was sometimes noticeable, and other times not. I think over time, I will come to like this narrator, especially if the narrative is slowed down a bit.

The story itself was interesting and the characters engaging, including the secondary characters, two of whom will be featured in book two.  They were both very positive, upbeat and often humorous throughout this story so theirs is one I must read.  Overall, this was a nice treat and I recommend it to lovers of paranormal and fantasy romance. 

Cover art: L.C. Chase.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Audible | iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Audible Audio, 2nd Edition
Published January 10th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press LLC (first published August 25th 2015)
Original Title The Soldati Prince
ASINB078TLPLJ1
Edition Language English
Series Soldati Hearts #1

Final Lists of 2018 and This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Happy 2019! Here Are Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Final Best of 2018 Lists!

Here are the  last of our lists for 2018, in many categories and divided out as each reviewer saw fit.  So many books read and listened too.  It’s been an amazing year.  It was tough to narrow down lists as always.  Gone from mine was the cozies.  I love my cozy mysteries and that category will probably come back next year.

Many of the books that came out went to other reviewers here, speeding past me and they have now landed on my huge TBR list.  I see many on our reviewers Best of 2018 that I also haven’t gotten to yet, having my own huge set of stories to read this year.

Isn’t it lovely to have these stories to look forward to?

And new one to come in 2019!

So one last look all the book that rose above the many we read and loved this year to end up on our Best of 2018 this year, along with the covers, Best of Audiobooks as well.  Check them all out below:

 

From Stella:

Here are my Best of 2018

 
Tomte by Jamie Fessenden
 
 
BEST SERIES
 
Go On Your Own Way by Zane Riley

Sawyer’s Ferry by Cate Ashwood

North Star Trilogy by Posy Roberts
Butterfly Hunter by Julie Bozza 

From Lucy

I am the first to admit I am so stingy with my five star reviews.  I like many books, I love quite a few but for me the five stars are the ones that I want to read over and over, that stick with me long after I’ve finished them and the ones that make me sad I’m finished because I don’t want to leave them.  For 2018, some of the ones I loved weren’t released in 2018 (or just the audio was released this year) but I read them this year.  So in random order, my five star reads for this year…

From the Ashes by CM Valencourt – While my list is in no particular order, this is the exception.  This was my absolute favorite book of 2018 and may end up being one of my favorite books of all times.  I gave it five stars, rare enough for me, but I would have given it more if possible.  Justin is the most amazing character and I cried, laughed, cried more and just had so much respect and love for that selfless man. 

A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss – A sweet children’s book about embracing your differences and not being a stink bug.  I have this one on audio as well and John Lithgow and Jim Parsons make it absolutely perfect.  I thought it was funny that I bought the book and then had four different people give me copies as gifts!

My Crunchy Life Mia Kerick I am a fan of Mia Kerick’s young adult books and this one was amazing. The ending of this was so perfect, sweet and YA and lovely. This coming of age story isn’t incredibly angsty, despite some very serious themes, but it’s a story of growth and I thought it was just right.  It was so spot on with the confusion and angst that can be the teen years.

Exorcising the Exes Jill Wexler  Loved it. I can’t even do justice to how amazing Tanner is, and once he meets Dan things just get so much better.  It makes me smile every time I read it.  The insane goose posse, the taco binge, the hashtags, the everything!

Bump Matthew Metzger I read a couple by Matthew Metzger this year and I was hard pressed to decide if I liked Bump or Erik the Pink more, but ultimately went with Bump.  As a trans man who just want to be seen as a man, this was such a struggle for David and it was perfectly encapsulated in this book. David’s gender dysphoria was handled realistically and the emotions are so strong.  Even more interesting for me was that David didn’t give birth and immediately become super parent.  I loved that because it is a fact that not everyone has that Hallelujah, bonding and perfection moment immediately. 

Promises by Ruby Moone  Ruby Moone is a favorite of mine for historicals. I loved this one even more than usual because our characters, Sebastian and Charles, are realistic and likeable but also because the secret that Sebastian is hiding from everyone is not only being attracted to men, shameful and dangerous in that time period, but something else that isn’t understood.  I ust loved it.

Suicide Watch Kelley York  So bittersweet, it was sad and hopeful. Best of all, it was true to the feelings of Vincent, Casper and Adam.  This definitely wasn’t a sweet and fluffy read (my usual) but these characters were so real and made me smile and cry.

Phoenix Goes to School: A Story to Support Transgender and Gender Diverse Children – Michelle Finch and Phoenix Finch  The book was written by Michelle and Phoenix Finch, a real life seven year old transgender girl who was assigned male at birth. At the end of the book there are comprehension questions and some open-ended critical thinking questions that as a teacher I appreciated. Possibly even better, there is an informational section at the end for grownups. 
I loved the story of Phoenix going to school but more importantly, I hope that transgendered and gender diverse children will read this and know they are not alone, they are perfect just the way they are.

AUDIO FAVORITES

Tell Me It’s Real and Until You by TJ Klune  – These are my go-to re-reads when I’m having a lousy week.  I know I’m late to the party, as I just read them this year when I bought the audio.  I can’t believe it took me so long.  If I were to get to be any character I’ve read, I’d be Paul Auster!

Audio: A Family for Christmas Another one that was introduced to me via audio.  The car ride to work is so much improved with these books.  I loved Rudy and my heart went out to Zac. This is a sweet story of a man afraid to let anyone in and a family who refuses to keep anyone out. 

Favorite cover because it perfectly captured the feel of the book: 

 

From Lila:

As of today, I have read 234 books of my goal of 144. Just like last year, I don’t have one favorite book for the year. Some have been great, others not so much, but I can’t say one was the best of them all. Therefore, I’m using the same format as last year to tell you more about the books I enjoyed. I’m really looking forward to that perfect book though. I hope to share it with you all next year.

Looking back on my shelves,

The Best of 2018 (according to me) are:

·         Best Cover – Art House (Buchanan House #6) by Charley Descoteaux. Cover by L.C. Chase

·         January – Felix and the Prince (Forever Wilde #2) by Lucy Lennox

·         February – Off the Beaten Path by Cari Z. [Audiobook]

·         March – Fake Out (Fake Boyfriend #1) by Eden Finley

·         April – Beneath This Mask (Enhanced #3) by Victoria Sue [Audiobook]

·         May – Object of Desire by Dal Maclean

·         June – Logan’s Need (The Escort #3) by Sloane Kennedy

·         July – Unexpected (The Protectors #10) by Sloane Kennedy

·         August – Creature (Bureau #3) by Kim Fielding [Audiobook]: John is now my favorite MM character of all time.

·         September – A Gentleman’s Position (Society of Gentlemen #3) by K.J. Charles [Audiobook]

·         October – Dirty Desire (Dread and Terrible #1) by Avril Ashton

·         November – Bond (Forbidden Desires #2) by Piper Scott & Virginia Kelly

·         December – Home in Austin (Lone Star Brothers #4) by Susi Hawke

 

Free Dreamer’s Best of 2018

2018 was a great reading year. I read 80 books, just like planned, which is 14 books and about 2000 pages more than in 2017. I have finally decided that normal literature just isn’t for me, especially if it’s supposed to be Meaningful and make you Think. Maybe I’m just too immature. But I’ve also discovered that there are some very interesting non-fiction books out there. None of them quite made it to my list, but it’s definitely a genre I’ll keep pursuing.

While I only review LGBT+ fiction for Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words, my reading habits are far more varied and my “Best of” list just wouldn’t be complete without them. Those books mostly contain little to no romance, since I’m not much of a romance reader anyway.

An honorable mention should go to the “Taking Shield” series by Anna Butler. I read the first three books in quick succession and really enjoyed them. But they just didn’t quite make it to “Best of”.

I hope 2019 will be another good reading year, for me and all the other readers out there. Happy New Year!

LGBT+:

  • Showers, Flowers and Fangs” by Aiden Wayne (adorable YA fantasy)
  • Salt Magic, Skin Magic” by Lee Welch (fascinating historical fantasy)
  • Bones and Bourbon” by Dorian Graves (what a wild ride; brilliant fantasy)
  • Amberlough” and “Armistice” by Lara Elena Donnelly (very surprising espionage thrillers set in an AU 1940s)
  • The Seeds of Dissolution” by William C. Tracey (very unique magic system)
  • Another Day” by David Levithan (loved part one and finally read the great sequel)

Non-LGBT:

  • Arcanum Unbounded” by Brandon Sanderson (collection of novellas and short stories set in the Cosmere, Sanderson’s main universe; great for hardcore fans like me)
  • Empire of Sand” by Tasha Suri (Fantasy set in a desert world, inspired by the Indian/Arabian culture)
  • Snapshot” by Brandon Sanderson (Novella; Mind fuck like woah)
  • Verwunschen” by Mara Lang (New Adult Fantasy set in a modern fairy tale world, dark as hell; Sadly only available in German)
  • Not Quite Narwhal” by Jessie Sima (super adorable picture book)“The Doldrums and the Helmsley Curse” by Nicholas Gannon (children’s fiction with gorgeous illustrations, reminded me of classical adventure stories)

 

MelanieM Best of 2018

Best Science Fiction, Fantasy, and  Paranormal/Supernatural for 2018

The Calling by MD Neu

Bones and Bourbon by Dorian Graves

Stone the Crows (Wolf Winter #2)by T.A. Moore

Green Death by Madeleine Ribbon

Sweet Clematis (Being(s) in Love #9) by R. Cooper

The Rising Tide (Liminal Skies #2) by J.Scott Coatsworth

And God Belched by Rob Rosen

Apocalypse Alley (Blue Unicorn #2)by Don Allmon

Lander (The Oberon Cycle, #2 by J. Scott Coatsworth

Best Historical Novels of 2018

I will admit this category is owned almost entirely this year by Marshall Thornton

and two series of his:  Pinx Video Mystery and Boystown (all of the novels were reviewed this years and were 5 stars)

Hidden Treasures (A Pinx Video Mystery #2) by Marshall Thornton

Late Fees by Marshall Thornton

The Stars May Rise and Fall by Estella Mirai (recent historical retelling of the Phantom of the Opera)

Best of 2018 ~ Contemporary Novel

Forged in Flood by Dahlia Donovan

Stand By Your Manny (The Mannies #3) by Amy Lane

The Eye of Ra (Repeating History #1) by Dakota Chase

Mammoth! (Repeating History #3) by Dakota Chas

The Evolution of Jeremy Warsh by Jess Moore (coming out, coming of age)

Wait For Me by Kris Jacen

Learn with Me (With Me #3) by Kris Jacen

Loving A Warrior by Melanie Hansen

Homebird by Amy Lane

One Thousand Cranes (The Yakuza Path #3) by Amy Tasukada

The Deafening Silence (The Yakuza Path #4) by Amy Tasukada

Best Series of 2018

Blue Unicorn Trilogy by Don Allmon

Offbeat Crimes Series by Angel Martinez

The Yakuza Path by Amy Tasukada

Liminal Sky Series by J. Scott Coatsworth

Boystown series by Marshall Thornton

This Time Forever Series by Kelly Jensen

Faith, Love & Devotion by Tere Michaels (series finale 2018)

 

Best Audiobook of 2018

Crocus (Bonfires #2) by Amy Lane and Nick J. Russo (Narrator)

When Everything is Blue by Laura Lascarso and Michael Mola (Narrator)

Spun! by JL Merrow and Mark Steadman (Narrator)

The Lion and the Crow by Eli Easton and Scott Richard Ehredt (Narrator)

Best Covers of 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Yakuza Path series by Amy Tasukada, artist Natasha Snow

Blue Unicorn #2 and #3 by Don Allmon, artist Simone’

Mary, Queen of Scotch by Rob Rosen, Cover art: Written Ink Design

Homebird by Amy Lane, Artist: Reese Dante

The Rising Tide by J. Scott Coatsworth

Wish Upon The Stars by T.J. Klune, Artist Paul Richmond

Special Mention for 2018

 

It would have to go to Ethan Day who left us all too soon and his wonderful series, Summit City,  who had a new release in 2018 that gave his beloved characters the wedding and his readers a ending we had long wanted.  That would be the third and now last story Life In Union.

 

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, January 6:

  • Final Lists of 2018 and This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Monday, January 7:

  • BLITZ Tea by Matthew J. Metzger
  • PROMO Marguerite Labbe
  • E.J. Russell on Devouring Flame
  • A Lucy Review The Replacement Husband by Eliot Grayson
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audio Review:The Soldati Prince (Soldati Hearts #1) by Charlie Cochet and Manuel Pombo (Narrator)

Tuesday, January 8:

  • PROMO Robert P. Rowe
  • BLITZ My Fake Canadian Wife by M. Hollis
  • An Alisa Release Day Review: Unfamiliar Waters by Andrew Grey
  • A Caryn Release Day Review: Devouring Flame by EJ Russell
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review:Something Like Forever (Something Like #10) by Jay Bell

Wednesday, January 9:

  • Release Blitz – The Choice (The Faction, book 2) by Addison Albright
  • Release Blitz Is It Over Yet – LA Witt
  • BLITZ There’s Something about Flying by Schuyler L’Roux
  • A MelanieM Review: Valhalla by L.A. Ashton
  • Review: The Choice (The Faction, book 2) by Addison Albright

Thursday, January 10:

  • PROMO Elizabeth Noble
  • Tour for Out in the Offense by Lane Hayes
  • An Alisa Review: Ta Weezo’s Blues by Layla Dorine
  • A MelanieM Review:  You Forever Always by KA Merikan

Friday, January 11:

  • PROMO Heidi Cullinan and Marie Sexton
  • An Ashez Review: Elias by  Erin E Keller
  • A Melanie Release Day Review:  Don’t Fear the (Not Really) Grim Reaper by Carole Cummings
  • A LIla Review: Not on My Bucket List by Tom Munroe
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audio Review:The Alpha Heir (Kingdom of Askara #2) by Victoria Sue and Joel Leslie (Narrator)

Saturday, January 12:

A MelanieM Review: Prince of Air and Darkness by M.A. Grant