A MelanieM Review: Shotgun Bastards and Other Stories by Andrea Speed

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

 

A collection of tales filled with monsters, be they human or beast, ranging in setting from dystopia to pitch black noir and even general silliness. From the ludicrous to the frighteningly plausible; from deep space to after the end of the world. There are clumsy werewolves and bloody revenge, monster sleep overs and a dieting fad sure to kill your appetite.

Whether looking into the past or the future, you’re sure to find that stuff gets really weird.

Shotgun Bastards and Other Stories by Andrea Speed is a collection of flash fiction in various  genres from fantasy to horror to science fiction.  Some are even grouped together further into subcategories like end of the world and dystopian societies.

Some of them have been previously published for the Goodreads M/M Don’t Read in the Closet Events and I honestly felt those came across as the most complete, well rounded stories of the bunch, Soul Mates especially.

The rest of them felt less like actually flash fiction (complete stories of 300 words or so) than outlines or just written down sketches of possible stories the author has in mind for the future.

Quite a few show promise that I would love to see made into stories, whether its vampire hunters or the shotgun bastards of the title.  But there’s so little to the characters or world building that the fiction doesn’t really count as a full story, just a tidbit of what could be.  Which is most cases the author fully acknowledges.

There is a whole section dedicated to End of the Whole tales which gets to be a bit much.  After one or three, even as short as they are, reading about the end of the Earth, the species, it gets old.  Well, it did for me.  I would have broken this section up. Spread the tales out a bit.  But maybe the author wanted a depressing impact to hit all together.  I have no idea.  For me, it just made me want to skip over several and then return after a break.

Reading through these stories is like a walk through the author’s likes and dislikes,  Speed’s commentary in front of the stories makes that clear.  Merry Killmas?  Oh dear!  Yep, Christmas is definitely not the holiday for this author.  Short, horrific, and to the point.

If you are a fan of Andrea Speed, then I think you  would enjoy this trip through her imagination and possible plots for future books.  For fans of flash fiction, you might give it a try as well.

For everyone else?  Well, I’ll leave that up to you.  As a fan of this author, I’m not sure it worked for me.

Cover art: Philip Lloyd Simpson.  This cover totally works for the collection and the author.  Perfect.

Sales Links:  Less Than Three Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook
Published July 18th 2018 by Less Than Three Press (first published July 17th 2018)
ISBN139781684313129
Edition LanguageEnglish

We Missed National Book Day? This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Apparently we here (well, me, haven’t talked to the others) missed National Book Day which was 2 or 3 days ago. Mea Culpa!  Of course, every day here at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is book day but I like to think we help to celebrate books every chance we get!  So I went looking for the actual information and found out lots about book celebrations throughout the year and  all over the world.  Pretty cool stuff actually.

And of course, thought you all should know about it.  So here it is.  And it helps me to remember that September is National Literacy Month.  We normally see Charity Anthologies appear to help support LGBTQIA youth in need during that month. LGBTQIA shelters, local PFLAG Youth YA libraries (yep, they exist), and so much more.  September will be here before you know it. So if you have any local shelters (addresses etc) to contribute, please send them in.  We keep a list going.

Book Day Celebrations – Days-Weeks and Months! These are the approximate dates as they can change every year:)

  • World Book Days by country
  • January is National Book Month
  • Third full week in January is National Book Week
  • Last full week in January is Celebrity Read a Book Week
  • February 23 – Printed Book Day
  • March 2 – Unesco World Book Day
  • March 2 – UK World Book Day
  • March 28 – Children’s Picture Book Day
  • April 2 – International Children’s Book Day
  • April 16 – Book-of-the-Month Club Birthday
  • April 23 – World Book Days by country
  • April 3 through May 6 – Children’s Book Week
  • June is AudioBook Month
  • September is National Literacy Month
  • September is when the annual 2 day National Book Festival is held
  • American Library Association (ALA) Banned Book Week is the last week of September
  • October is National Book Month per National Book Foundation
  • October is National Information Literacy Awareness Month
  • First full week in October is Great Books Week
  • December is Read a New Book Month

Saturday things Redux!

We sent out a call for reviewers.  Check out the post here.  And then contact either Stella or myself about reviewing for us. If you love books, this is the place to be!

Review Redux!  I reviewed Forged in Flood by Dahlia Donovan on Saturday.  I think it’s her finest story yet.  And it’s a tough one to read on many levels.  Three men, a triad, lost everything, when they drove drunk after graduating from university.  That subject matter alone will get people.  It cost them their future in rugby due to disabilities, and each other due to a deep abiding guilt, shame, rage, and more.  This is the story back to each other.  Just amazing.  Did I say it was only 130 pagesI have to agree that there seems to be a lot of diversity in this day and age than there was maybe five, ten, or fifteen years ago. There’s a lot of gay couples surfacing on tv dramas these days and in books asexual, pansexual, demisexual individuals are being written in as main characters and have their own stories whereas a several years ago those terms weren’t present in m/m fiction (well none of the fiction I read). Even in the media there are celebrities who are coming out as gay, pansexual, bi, etc.

Representation and Romance Stories.

We’ve been talking about the increasing LGBTQIA representation in fiction and here are some of the comments from two of our readers:

H.B. “I have to agree that there seems to be a lot of diversity in this day and age than there was maybe five, ten, or fifteen years ago. There’s a lot of gay couples surfacing on tv dramas these days and in books asexual, pansexual, demisexual individuals are being written in as main characters and have their own stories whereas a several years ago those terms weren’t present in m/m fiction (well none of the fiction I read). Even in the media there are celebrities who are coming out as gay, pansexual, bi, etc.”

Ami: “As an asexual and aromantic reader, it warms my heart that ACE/ARO have started to be represented in romantic fiction.

Having said that, I still feel that it is mostly focused ONLY in the LGBTQIA books or genre. In my own opinion, it’s not enough. Yes, ACE falls in the queer spectrum, but there are a number of ACE who also identify themselves as heteroromantic asexuals. I guess until I see more ace representatives in MF romance, not just Queer romance, I still think there’s room of improvements.

Lately, I see more “diversity” in mainstream romance more focused on race — meaning representing non-White people. I think it’ll be nice to see more MF romance with trans* as well, or heteroromantic pansexual, or even bisexual in MF romance.”

 

I agree with you both.  I want to see diversity as the norm, not as something we need to point at as a goal.  Or even to the point its past mentioning.  Wouldn’t that  be lovely?

Alas and alac…I can’t even get through an audiobook where someone states things like “acting like a teenage girl”.  Really?  Maybe teenagers, yes.  But   can’t we at least bury the sexist phrases?  I’m so done with stuff like that. “Maning up” “Acting like a girl”….all the poisonous ways we demean the sexes, divide the genders.  So maybe we still have a long way to go in a lot of ways.  But I will take whatever forward motion however miniscule.  Positivity!

Sigh.

Now to this  week at the blog.

This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, August 12:

  • This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
  • We Missed National Book Day?

Monday, August 13:

  • DSP Cover Reveal Gateway to Love by Sarah Hadley Brooke
  • DSP Dreamspun Promo Liv Olteano
  • Release Blitz – Michelle Woody’s Merrick The Art Thief
  • Release Day Blitz To See the Sun by Kelly Jensen
  • An Alisa Review An Arranged Mating by Jane Wallace-Knight
  • A MelanieM Audiobook Review: Love in Spades (Four Kings Security #1) by Charlie Cochet and  Greg Boudreaux (Narrator)
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: A Courageous Ride (The Bullriders#3) by Andrew Grey and John Solo (Narrator)

Tuesday, August 14:

  • DSP Cover Reveal Calculated Magic by SJD Peterson
  • Release Blitz – Sky Full Of Mysteries – Rick R Reed
  • Release Blitz – Bitten By Her (Regent’s Park Pack #4.5) – Annabelle Jacobs
  • An Alisa Review:Exercising Restraint (Different Dynamics #2) by Tamir Drake
  • A VVivacious Review : Sky Full Of Mysteries by Rick R Reed
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: Super for You Bad for Me by Asta Idonea

Wednesday, August 15:

  • Something About Us by Riley Hart Release Blitz
  • Series Review Tour for Revving It Up Series by W.S. Long
  • Review Tour – Goal Line (Harrisburg Railers #6) by RJ Scott & V.L. Locey
  • Release Blitz –  Boyfriend Or Bust by Claire Castle
  • A MelanieM Review: Goal Line (Harrisburg Railers #6) by RJ Scott & V.L. Locey
  • An Ali  Review: To See the Sun by Kelly Jensen
  • A MelanieM Review: Gifts Given (Boystown #10) by Marshall Thornton

Thursday, August 16:

  • In the Spotlight Tour and Giveaway: To See The Sun by Kelly Jensen
  • DSP Publications Promo Jayne Lockwood
  • Promo Jackie North on Shoulder Season (World of Love)
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Salt Magic Skin Magic by Lee Welch
  • A Lucy Audiobook Review: Love You so Hard (Love You So Stories #1) by Tara Lain and Narrator: Ry Forest / Stephen Kurpis (Vitruvian Sound)
  • A MelanieM Review:  Shotgun Bastards and Other Stories by Andrea Speed

Friday, August 17:

  • DSP Promo Sean Michael
  • DSP Promo Charley Descoteaux
  • Blog Tour Don’t Let Go by Andrew Grey
  • An Alisa Release Day Review: Tempt Me by Remmy Duchene
  • A Lucy Review: Challenging Chance (Love Letters #3) by Anyta Sunday

Saturday, August 18:

  • Blog Tour for Euphoria by Jayne Lockwood
  • A MelanieM Review: Euphoria by Jayne Lockwood

Representation and Romance Stories. This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Representation and Romance Stories.

 

Last week I went to brunch with some of my MD/VA/DC group of LGBTQIA authors, publishers, bloggers, and readers.  It’s a lively group and after a while some of the discussion turned to how the Asch community was represented in the fiction released at the certain publisher.  The overall feeling was that the asexual community (given that is a broad spectrum itself) was well represented in our opinion (not so in an author’s not in attendance which is what sparked the conversation).

Wow, how things have changed in just a short time.  I can remember when that really wasn’t the case.

There was a time not that long ago where all the stories were strictly M/M or F/F, no  bi, no trans, no asch, no intersex, pansexual, or any of the quilt bag spectrum as my friend J. Scott Coatsworth calls it .

Now that has changed. Or at least I feel it has.  I’m reading more and more stories where happily the Quiltbag community is well represented.  More stories, outstanding and moving stories that feature main characters that fall anywhere along the LGBTQIA lineup…not just the L and the G.

What must that mean for the Quiltbag readers to see their reflections in fiction?  Finally?  I can only begin to imagine.

I know some are better represented that others. But overall I feel the move is for inclusion.  Diversity.  And not just in science fiction which is where I first saw and still see a huge amount of LGBTQIA stories that  have  beings of various sexualities, genders, and accepting societies (logical right?) Plus I do read a lot of stories.  So maybe I’m biased.

What do you all think?  How is the LGBTQIA community represented in fiction today?  In romance stories?  How has it progressed?  Is one sector more represented over others and why do you think that is?  Where do you see improvements?  Where the least?

Is there stories you have read that have made an impact on you?  What are they?

Tell me how you feel….I really want to know….

 

Now for this week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words….

 

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

 

 

Sunday, August 5:

  • Release Blitz – The Selkie Prince’s Fated Mate by J.J. Masters
  • Representation and Romance Stories.
  • This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Monday, August 6:

  • BLITZ Death Days by Lia Cooper
  • Series Recap Blitz – Montana Series – RJ Scott
  • Blog Tour: Hard to Hold by Jaclyn Quinn
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Risk Taker (Mixed Messages #3) by Lily Morton
  • A MelanieM Review: Savior (415 Ink #2) by Rhys Ford
  • A MelanieM Review: Hard to Hold (Haven’s Cove #3) by Jaclyn Quinn

Tuesday, August 7:

  • Blog Post – Brave For You – Crystal Lacy
  • DSP Promo BA Tortuga
  • DSP Promo Tara Lain
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: The Missing Ingredient by Brian Lancaster
  • An Alisa Review Step Into Love (Taboo Love #2) by Lili Draguer
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: Mammoth! (Repeating History #3) by Dakota Chase
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review :Truth & Betrayal by KC Wells

Wednesday, August 8:

  • BLITZ 2230: The Perfect Year by CM Corett
  • DSP Cover Reveal Chapman Brown
  • Release Blitz  – Goal Line – RJ Scott & V.L. Locey
  • DSP Promo K.A. Mitchell
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: Rainbow Rodeo by BA Tortuga
  • A Jeri Review: A Dangerous Dance (Haven Hart Universe #3by Davidson King
  • A MelanieM Pre-release Review: Love at First Hate (Porthkennack #11) by J.L. Merrow  

Thursday, August 9:

  • DSP Promo Andrew Grey
  • Harmony Promo Dakota Chase on Mammouth and Repeating History
  • Release Blitz – Salt Magic, Skin Magic by Lee Welch
  • Taught by Tarilyn Sparks Release Day Blitz
  • A Free Dreamer Review:  Salt Magic, Skin Magic by Lee Welch
  • A Lila Review: Cold Like Snow by Sita Bethel
  • An Ali Review: Love It Like You Stole It by Ki Brightly

Friday, August 10:

  • DSP Cover Reveal Andrew Grey
  • DSP Dreamspun Promo Brian Lancaster on The MIssing Ingredient
  • In the Spotlight: The Long Way Around by Quinn Anderson
  • Salt Magic Skin Magic by Lee Welch Author Blog
  • A Caryn Release Day Review: Shoulder Season (World of Love) by Jackie North
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Be Still My Heart (Four Kings Security Book 2) by Charlie Cochet
  • A Lucy Audiobook Review : Unscripted Love (Road to Blissville #1) by Aimee Nicole Walker and Joel Leslie (Narrator)

Saturday, August 11:

  • Release Blitz – KA Merikan’s Gray’s Shadow (Kings of Hell MC)
  • A MelanieM Review: Forged in Flood by Dahlia Donovan

 

A MelanieM Review: The Gallery: The Special Exhibits (The Gallery #2) by Megan Derr

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

 

Welcome to the Gallery, where you can admire hundreds of beautiful paintings, and perhaps find what you didn’t know you were looking for…

In these rooms you will find the Special Exhibits, those paintings which remain at the Gallery only temporarily. Their time here can range from weeks to decades—even centuries. But they do eventually leave, so admire while you can. The subjects of these paintings come from all walks of life, from lonely individuals seeking respite while they await their true love, all the way to dangerous beings captured by the Curator or given to him for safekeeping until such time as they can be trusted out in the world again.

Today’s featured Special Exhibits include: The Assassin, about a killer on the run and a painting of a man who once chose surrender over murder; The Lion and the Mouse, where a grouchy accountant escapes the snow only to find himself on a beach with an ancient gladiator; The Gargoyle is a beautiful, erotic statue not for the faint of heart; Shapeless brings a new and rather unique guest to the gallery when he is bequeathed to Silenus by a dead alchemist; and finally, in Fallen Soldier, a man escaping his kidnappers hides behind a statue of an unusual being who once betrayed a dying kingdom…

I absolutely loved the first book in this series,The Gallery: The Permanent Collection.  Derr gave us a wonderful concept, than an complicated buildup introduction to the owner of the Gallery, the Lord of Satyrs, and a terrific foundation of world building. Just magical.  So I was really looking forward to the sequel.  We had a brief peek at this “area” of the  Gallery and small explanation but no more.

Now the The Special Exhibits are on displayAnd depending upon the “art work” the very nature of this portion of The Gallery made it less….magical or something.  You see all the inhabitants here are only temporary.  The amount of time they have spent living inside their “art” can be a thousand years to decades.  It depends upon the person they are waiting to find them.   And what happens after that.   Which is that they leave the paintings/sculptures etc. (actually small bubble universes) to join that one they’ve been waiting all this time for.

Now in the Permanent Gallery, that person joins their fated one within the art work.  Makes sense because again.  That art work is really a contained universe.

But here the inhabitants, such as the Lion, a Gladiator who had never lost a battle, steps out of his painting into our century to become a…bouncer at a leather club with his sex club accountant boyfriend leading him?  For me that was just nonsensical.  Talk about culture shock.  A fracas at the door of a local club  is put down by a man using a net and trident? That would bring in the media.Yes, yes, I know that wouldn’t happen but that is the picture that sprung to mind.  How do all these beings face life and relationships in our world and with our technology?  Hard to answer in 66 pages to my satisfaction. As each long-term being left it’s temporary holding place in The Gallery, I just couldn’t help but think…what happens next to them?  What about the culture adjustment?  Where do the couples go? None of these questions really arise in The Permanent Collection for obvious reasons.  That book just had more depth to it imo.

The only ones I wasn’t worried about particularly, was the  Mist.  Very imaginative.  And playful. Plus the Merperson/Octopii being and the human mate. Yes, there is tentacle sex. Just a fyi.  Their ending seemed rather wonderful although I  still wanted to know  what happened next to them as well.  Especially as they were the end story to  The Special Exhibits, with the notation that another would soon replace them.  Yes, this gallery is one constant turnover.

Plus there is only a brief mention of the demon problems here that were such a major element in the first story.  All in all, this is a lighter short story collection without the depth of the first.  I would have loved to have known more about what happens next for many of the couples, a question that arises out of the nature of their temporary status in the The Gallery.

We have two books.  I wonder where Megan Derr is going next.  Will we find out more about the demons and the humans who have brought this problem into the world?  What will happen to the Gallery and it’s owner next?

I can hardly wait.

Love this series. So will you.

Cover art by Aisha Akeju is beautiful, compelling and perfect for the story and cover.

Sales Links:  Less Than Three Press | Amazon

Book Details:

Author’s Note: Two of these stories were freebies on my website. They have been edited for re-release, and received minor changes, but nothing major.

ebook, 66 pages
Published July 18th 2018 by Less Than Three Press
ISBN139781684312986
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series The Gallery #2

How Did It Get to August? This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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How Did It Get to August?

Truly, how did it get to be August already?  It seems to be that only a short while ago I was writing about the 4th of July and July topics and here we are tumbling into the first week of August.  Oh the dogs days of summer are upon us and I hadn’t even realized it.

Of course, that could be because it’s been pouring and flooding it instead of the heat beating down on us like the Dog Star Sirius is supposed to do.  Oh I know its doing that out west and I’m sorry.  But here in Maryland we are drenched as July was the wettest one recorded in history.

So this week we finish up with our Romance Do’s and Don’ts.

What Makes a Book Magic List Giveaway Concludes…..

So let’s make this official with a What Makes a Book Magic List Giveaway.  Send in your comments, it will run til the end of the month and we will giveaway 2 gift certificates to 2 lucky readers.  Leave your name and email address where you can be reached if chosen.

Wonderful comments and we decided to reward them both with gift certificates.  Are winners are HB and Ami!  Here are the winning comments:

From Ami:

Ami on what makes a story a success:

Hmmm, this is very subjective question… because every “successful” romance book can speak to me in a different way. It can be interesting places, or family of choice, or simply popular trope done right.

But I think if I truly think about the books that I love, it will ALWAYS return to characters. I have to feel invested to the characters development, themselves or the relationship. The trope can be hashed and rehashed, the setting mundane, the story simply about day-to-day life, no spectacular thing happen to them (except maybe falling in love). But once the characters hook me, THEN, it becomes magic.

What deflates the romance quicker than you can say boom <<

Well, I always love that “wooing” part of romance, you know? Where the characters take time to know each other, and try to romance one another. What deflates romance quicker for me is the instant-love or well, the instant-lust/instant-attraction. I am a sucker for slow burn. Anything quick just kills the book for me most of the time.

From H.B.:

Do’s: Well this isn’t really an easy question to answer this week. I have a tendency to like a majority of the books I give a read. I think the major draw of a book for me is the character building, their personality and development. Great banter and world building are a plus

Don’t’s:

Like Ami, I too, love to see the wooing part but I’m not adverse to seeing a instant love or instant attraction read. For me, I think that finding out the that one of the characters isn’t being sincere with their feeling or is willing to humiliate/isn’t willing to stand up for their love interest to save themselves is a turn off.

Next week we will start talking about what topics or elements you feel get great coverage from publishers  and which you think are still overlooked.

Until then. Have a great week, congratulations to our winners, and happy reading!

This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, July 29:

  • How Did It Get to August? This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
  • Audio Tour Love in Spades by Charlie Cochet and Greg Boudreaux (Narrator)

Monday, July 30:

  • Blog Tour Imperial Stout by Layla Reyne
  • Cover Reveal – Melanie Hansen – Loving A Warrior
  • Release Blitz – Dawn by T.A. Creech
  • Blog Post for DJ Jamison’s Hearts & Health Volume 2
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: Blood and Eternity (Blood #3) by Shira Anthony
  • A MelanieM Review: Hammer of the Witch (Repeating History #2) by Dakota Chase
  • An Ali Audiobook Review: Suspicious Behavior (Bad Behavior #2)  by L.A. Witt and Cari Z. with Michael Ferraiuolo (Narrator)

Tuesday, July 31:

  • RELEASE DAY BLITZ LOVE LETTERS by Anyta Sunday
  • Release Day Blitz: The Case of the Sexy Shakespearean by Tara Lain
  • Release Blitz – Won’t Feel A Thing by CF White
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: Blood and Eternity (Blood #3) by Shira Anthony
  • An Ali Release Day Review: Ravensong (Green Creek #2)  by T.J. Klune
  • An Alisa Release Day Review:  The Case of the Sexy Shakespearean (The Middlemark Mysteries #1) by Tara Lain

Wednesday, August 1:

  • DSP Promo BA Tortuga
  • BLITZ Push Me Pull Me by Amanda Rhodes
  • Book Blitz – Sandine Tomas – The Music Of Love
  • A Lucy Review Admiring Ash (LOVE LETTERS #1) by Anyta Sunday
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady  Review: Just Julian (Romeo & Julian) by Markus Harwood-Jones
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Romeo for Real (Romeo & Julian) by Markus Harwood-Jones

Thursday, August 2:

  • DSP Promo Chris T. Kat
  • Blog Tour – Finding My Way Home – Doyle Global Securities #2 – Kendel Duncan
  • A Lucy Review Begging Ben (LOVE LETTERS #2) by Anyta Sunday
  • An Alisa Review: Blackbird Fly Home– Doyle Global Securities #1 – Kendel Duncan
  • An Alisa Review: Finding My Way Home – Doyle Global Securities #2 – Kendel Duncan
  • A MelanieM Review:  Haka Ever After (The Sin Bin #7)  by Dahlia Donovan

Friday, August 3

  • Cover Reveal RJ Scott’s Second Chance Ranch
  • Review Tour – Fusion by Posy Roberts
  • DSP Promo Shira Anthony on Blood and Eternity (Blood #3)
  • A Lucy Review: Challenging Chance (LOVE LETTERS #3) by Anyta Sunday
  • A Stella Review :Fusion (North Star #2) by Posy Roberts
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: The Alpha Prince (Kingdom of Askara #3) by Victoria Sue  and Michael Pauley (Narrator)

Saturday, August 4:

  • Book Blitz: Be Still My Heart by Charlie Cochet
  • A MelanieM Review: The Gallery: The Special Exhibits (The Gallery #2) by Megan Derr

 

A MelanieM Review: The End of All Stories (Legends of Badal’Shari #1) by Julia Rosenthal

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Rating:  4.25 stars out of 5

On a quest for truths that his books can’t provide, Vael leaves the golden spires of his safe home to travel north, to the territories of the tribes there. But he gets far more than he bargains for when he is bound to Kayan, a chieftan’s son, in a mating ritual performed by a mysterious priestess.

According to her, it is their destiny to save all of Badal’Shari from a terrible cataclysm. And though Vael has serious doubts about fate, and even more doubts about Kayan, he agrees to embark on a so-called journey to save their world..

It wasn’t until I searched Goodreads for more information about the author that I realized this story was the first in a series.  Be still my heart.

I was both happy and surprised by this information. The End of All Stories (Legends of Badal’Shari #1) by Julia Rosenthal represented a new science fiction title by a new author for me. At the time I picked it up and started reading there was no indication that this was the start of a Legends of Badal’Shari series.  Nor did I get that from the ending of the story which the author wrapped up to my complete satisfaction.  But Rosenthal has built within this story such an amazingly complex foundation of cultures and rich world building that it easily will support a series.

She has created several races of beings, their cultures , systems of faith, a mythology that weaves legends, religion, fated mates into epic journeys.  And it all starts in a library.

I throughly enjoyed this story, from beginning to end.  The characters, especially Vael, who’s inquisitive nature and gentle soul made it easy to  love him.  More problematic for some will be Kayan, who at times is physically abusive.  For those for whom this is a trigger, be warned.  It’s not often but it happens and it’s within context of the tribe of warrior society that Vael has traveled to.  I can say that Kayan will address his actions as will others throughout the story. There is no sexual abuse.

There are cardboard characters here.  Whether or not you like their actions, its due to the fact these are believable viable beings you are reading about. Rosenthal provides, via other characters and means, the explanations/motivations for peoples various behaviors.  People here, are  as they say,  all too human.  Which makes the story.

There is an element of Vael falling for Kayan perhaps far too quickly for me, given his behavior, even with the fated disposition.  But the author’s other elements and their scenes together sold me on their relationship.

And then there was that later section of the story. Just amazing.  All the details, the suspense, the action, and yes, heartbreak, leading up to that ending which I loved.  Which I will not spoil here.

There are couples here I wish to see more of.  People here I wished to see more of.  So I’m thrilled that there will be subsequent stories.  I can only hope these people will reappear in them.  Fingers crossed.

Need a new author and story/series to enjoy?  Pick up The End of All Stories (Legends of Badal’Shari #1) by Julia Rosenthal. It’s one I highly recommend.

Cover art: Natasha Snow. I like the cover which seems to be the inside of a tent of Kayan’s tribe.

Sales Links:  Less Than Three Press | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 274 pages
Published June 27th 2018 by Less Than Three Press, LLC
ASINB07DGS7PTV
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesLegends of Badal’Shari #1

A Romance Must Have Heart! Romance Do’s! This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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A Romance Must Have Heart! Romance Do’s!

A romance must have heart.  Seems like such a simple idea.  Such a central idea!  Shouldn’t every romance ideally have heart?  But you would be surprised (or maybe you wouldn’t) at the number of romances I read where the heart of the story, the love, the romance as it were was just left out of them.

Or bled out of it at some point by as aspect of the characters or their  romance or even the ending.

Maybe its the lack of chemistry between the characters that kills it, or the relationship dynamics themselves.  Doormats anyone?  I don’t have enough fingers for the amount of times reviewers have told them they just didn’t “like” either the development of a character or a romance between characters.  That it killed the story for them. No chemistry.

Sometimes its in the initial meeting of the characters.  Gay for me for example (a trope I’m not fond of). You “turned” gay for someone? Ugh no.  I far prefer gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual …those  stories where the person discovering their sexuality whatever that maybe.   Guess we are back to boxes and titles.  And treatments, of course.  That can do it as well.  Take a heart out of a story.

How about how the couple goes about their relationship?  Can that suck the life out of the romance for you?  I know it can for me.  See doormat above.

And then there’s the ending.  So many books have crashed and burned on their endings alone.  The “oh, no, they didn’t end it there” stories!  We all have them.  The ones that left us gobsmacked.  And wanting to throw said Kindles and paperbacks across the room, the romance gone, deflating the stories like some sad pinpricked balloon.

And if you can guess a book prompted all this you would be right.  Shakes head.  I keep forgetting they get published like that. No, I’m not going to name it.

So that’s my rant for today. It’s safe to step back into the blog!  What pokes the pin into your books? What deflates the romance quicker than you can say boom? Let me know in the comments. Our giveaway is still going on until next week.

 

What Makes a Book Magic List Giveaway

So let’s make this official with a What Makes a Book Magic List Giveaway.  Send in your comments, it will run til the end of the month and we will giveaway 2 gift certificates to 2 lucky readers.  Leave your name and email address where you can be reached if chosen.

I can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with.

 

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, July, 22:

  • Tour – Meik & Sebastian – Obsessed by Quin Perin
  • An Alisa Review – Meik & Sebastian by Quin Perin
  • A Romance Must Have Heart! Romance Do’s!
  • This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Monday, July 23:

  • AUDIOBOOK TOUR – Zen Alpha by Sionnach Wintergreen
  • Dreamspun Promo Amy Lane on A Fool and His Manny
  • Release Day Blitz Imperial Stout (Trouble Brewing #1) by Layla Reyne
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Imperial Stout (Trouble Brewing #1) by Layla Reyne
  • A Stella Release Day Review: Broken Rules (Mended Hearts #2) by Michaela Grey
  • A Jeri Review: Sink or Swim (Anchor Point #8) by L.A. Witt
  • A Free Dreamer Review: Ardulum: First Don (Ardulum) by J.S. Fields

Tuesday, July 24:

  • Release Blitz – Curl Around My Heart by Londra Laine
  • Release Blitz – Fusion by Posy Roberts
  • RELEASE BLITZ Cold Like Snow by Sita Bethel
  • A Lucy Review: Curl Around My Heart by Londra Laine
  • An Alisa Review: Professor Hot Pants by by Ember-Raine Winters
  • An Alisa Review: Serving Him (The Retreat #1) by L.M. Somerton
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: Consorting with Dragons by Sera Trevor and Philip Alces (Narrator)

Wednesday, July 25:

  • AUDIO Blog TOUR The Eagle and the Fox by Nya Rawlyns
  • DSP Promo Poppy Dennison
  • Release Blitz – Finding My Way Home – Doyle Global Securities #2 – Kendel Duncan
  • Release Blitz with – Serving Him by L M Somerton
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review:  Blyd and Pearce by Kim Fielding
  • A MelanieM Review: Lucky Days (Boystown, #9) by Marshall Thornton
  • A MelanieM Review Smoke in the Mirror (Road to Blissville #5) by Aimee Nicole Walker

Thursday, July 26:

  • DSP Promo Kim Fielding on Blyd and Pearce
  • Risk Taker by Lily Morton Release Day Blitz
  • A Dangerous Dance by Davidson King Blog Tour
  • A MelanieM Review: The Eye of Ra (Repeating History #1) by Dakota Chase
  • A Stella Release Day Review: Alpha Unit One, New York by Chris T. Kat
  • A Lucy Review: Erik the Pink by Matthew J. Metzger

Friday, July 27:

  • Release Blitz – Brave For You – Crystal Lacy
  • Cover Reveal – Mia Kerick Love Spell
  • Impact Flash Fiction Anthology Tour
  • DSP Promo Michaela Grey
  • A Free Dreamer Review: Dark (Expedition 63 #2) by T.A. Creech
  • A MelanieM Review: Impact Flash Fiction Anthology
  • A VVivacious Release Day Review:Alpha Unit One, New York by Chris T. Kat

Saturday, July 28:

  • Release Blitz – DJ Jamison – Hearts & Health Volume 2
  • A MelanieM Review:The End of All Stories (Legends of Badal’Shari #1) by Julia Rosenthal

 

What’s Made Your Favorite Books Magic? And This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Romance Do’s In Your Romance Novels.

What’s Made Your Favorite Books Magic?

 

Several books I finished this week just furthered my ideas as to what helps launch a romance novel above the mass of romance stories you read or will read over the course of a year or more.  One wasn’t terribly successful in the romance department in my opinion while succeeding wildly in almost every other aspect, while two others had an almost constricted romance that still managed to allow their main characters love shine through along with an unusual storyline that unfolded around them.

Why does one fail while others succeed?  What makes a well done romance novel?  Yes, yes, I know so much can be subjective.  I remember that one write’s advice that I repeated (and still think is awful) on concentrating only on the main characters and leaving secondary characters totally alone.  Insert roll of eyes here.  Because imo a well done supportive cast makes a novel…romance or not.  All of my favorite  stories mention a marvelously done secondary grouping of characters, almost or as memorable as the main ones.

For some authors, they use their stories as love notes to  locations, towns they visited or grew up in or in one instance (Basil, Switzerland) one they live now.  The result can be a superb blending of location, culture, and story.  For others, its some other element…tree planting, apple orchards, a trip to the Sun Temple and Machu Picchu.  This list is endless.  Then there is the fantastical…the marvelous blending of mythologies, cultures, gods, and beasts that can come about when imaginations soar and blend with romances.

All of the above have managed to come together for me in romances that became something splendid, magical…even when the book itself was contemporary or science fiction.  The author or authors wrote and their story spoke to something deep inside of us.

Stories and characters we remember.

What are those books that still speak to you now and why?  What’s so special about them?  I really want to know.

What Makes a Book Magic List Giveaway

So let’s make this official with a What Makes a Book Magic List Giveaway.  Send in your comments, it will run til the end of the month and we will giveaway 2 gift certificates to 2 lucky readers.  Leave your name and email address where you can be reached if chosen.

I can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with.

 

Now for this week’s books and tours.

 

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, July 15:

  • Smoke in the Mirror by Aimee Nicole Walker Release Blitz
  • Fireworks and Stolen Kisses by Angel Martinez and Freddy MacKay Tour
  • A MelanieM Review:Fireworks and Stolen Kisses (Lijun #1) by Angel Martinez and Freddy MacKay
  • Romance Do’s And This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Monday, July 16:

  • Drive Shaft by Geoffrey Knight Book Blast
  • Release Blitz – Thief Of Hearts by Ruby Moone
  • Review Tour – Riza Curtis’s The Dragon’s Thief
  • An Alisa Review:  The Dragon’s Thief by Riza Curtis
  • A Lucy Audiobook Review: Hearts and Flour By Tara Lain/ Ry Forest (narrator), Stephen Kurpis (narrator)
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: A Fool and His Manny (The Mannies #4) by Amy Lane
  • A MelanieM Review:The Wolf at Bay (Big Bad Wolf #2) by Charlie Adhara

Tuesday, July 17:

  • DSP Dreamspun Promo JS Harker on Soul Bond
  • DSP Promo Tia Fielding
  • Audio Tour for Unscripted Love by Aimee Nicole Walker
  • An Alisa Release Day Review: Soul Bond by JS Harker
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: A Fool and His Manny (The Mannies #4) by Amy Lane
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review:  Soul Bond by JS Harker

Wednesday, July 18:

  • DSP Promo Rayna Vause
  • Release Blitz – Nothing Serious – Jay Northcote
  • Review Tour – Ari McKay – Knitting a Broken Heart Back Together
  • A Dangerous Dance by Davidson King Release Blitz
  • A Lucy Review: The Pet Stylist and The Playboy by Rebecca James
  • A MelanieM Review: The Lies That Bind (Boystown #8) by Marshall Thornton
  • A MelanieM Review: Knitting a Broken Heart Back Together by Ari McKay

Thursday, July 19:

  • In the Spotlight: Sink or Swim (Anchor Point series) by L.A. Witt
  • Blog Post – V.L. Locey – Lost In Indigo
  • DSP Publications Promo August Li
  • An Alisa Review: Tainted Life​ by ​Mel Gough
  • A MelanieM Review: Lucky Days (Boystown, #9) by Marshall Thornton
  • A MelanieM Review: Magic or Die (Inner Demons #1) by JP Jackson
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: Beneath This Mask ( Enhanced World #3) by Victoria Sue and Nick J. Russo (Narrator)

Friday, July 20:

  • BOOK BLAST – Daisy, Yellow by Angelique Jurd
  • DSP Promo Hudson Lin
  • DSP Promo JL Merrow on Camwolf
  • A Lila Review: The Merchant’s Love (Chronicles of Tournai #6) by Antonia Aquilante
  • A Caryn Review Daisy, Yellow by Angelique Jurd
  • A MelanieM Review: A Trust to Follow (Wild Magics #1) by Diana Waters (
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Sink or Swim (Anchor Point #8) by L.A. Witt

Saturday, July 21:

  • Audio Tour for Someone to Call My Own by Aimee Nicole Walker
  • A MelanieM Review: Gifts Given (Boystown, #10) by Marshall Thornton

Hello July. More On Romance Don’ts For You. This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Hello July.

More On Romance Don’ts For Readers

Welcome to July! The month that means the halfway point of summer, the week of the beginnings of many celebrations for Americans in the States and abroad as we celebrate our Independence Day on the 4th with fireworks and parades. and just a flood of people heading out for summer vacations (beach, mountains, tourist destinations) or good old staycations.

It’s also a time for tons of summer reading which is why I’m still talking about those  Romance Don’ts or at least one of the reasons.  I don’t know if you all caught Kate Sherwood’s blog last week here but she was talking about an early story of her’s where she had her mc’s cheat and the readers wrote in disgusted with her.  And she felt she had broken an unwritten bond with them. The title of her guest blog?  The Romance Taboo by Kate Sherwood.  You can find it here.   I was totally intrigued although not surprised.  Its something I’ve heard over and over myself.

Another reason I’m still inquiring?  That would be the Boystown series written by Marshall Thornton.  Several novels in this series have either won the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Mystery  or been a finalist.  And deservedly so.  But I wonder how many have started these stories and ended up with a DNF.  And the reason being that the main character,  PI Nick Nowak, rarely turns away from a hookup (underage the only exception), despite being in a relationship.  Yes, its the 80’s and gay sex/monogamy was admittedly looked at differently then.  But, and let me know if I’m wrong here, I get the feeling that context doesn’t come much into play when the  element is cheating with regards to the main character or couple.  it’s simply “no, not in my story”.

Which is a damn shame because these books and this series is simply brilliant.  I’ll be reviewing more of them this week. And  I’d like to know what I can possibly say to change readers minds.  For me this subject hasn’t been an issue.  Life is messy and its always been about how the author has handled the subject (as with any other element in their story).  But this is an emotional issue in RL and it carries over into our reading.  Can it ever be separated?  Not sure.  I hope you all will continue to chime in here.  I will be handing  out gift certificates next week.

And yes, I’ve been reading and loving everyone’s comments.  Here is what some of you have had to say on the subject:

On Readers Romance Don’ts:

H.B.

I think it depends on how the characters are portrayed. I can sometimes stand cheating characters but it has to be under certain circumstances (abuse, loveless marriage where spouse is cheating already, open relationship where both characters know and is okay with it). I really don’t like politically or religiously driven stories. Regarding sex scenes I like them enough just to spice up the read but not overtake the entire book. One every chapter is too excessive in my opinion I think maybe for a full length story I would like just maybe 2 to 4 sex scenes. Of course no sex scenes and more intimacy scenes are okay too. I think the one thing a book can’t come back from is if it kills off an important character (I’m going to exclude Andrea Speed’s Infected series from this even tho I didn’t complete the series I have plans to go back and read it after I heal from the lost of Paris). I once read a book where a main character in the earlier series was killed off in the sequel that featured new main characters. Luckily the series only had two books and there were no plans for more because I was completely turned off from it and resented that I had wasted time reading it.

Chris Tharrington

I can tolerate cheating if it advances the storyline while leading to the MCs having an HEA. Regarding sex scenes, I don’t need one every chapter. The first sex scene is the most important, because that sets the foundation for future exploration, especially if one character is primarily a top or bottom. The only things that turn me off in a book are domestic abuse, child abuse, rape, and mpreg storylines.

ashleyomelia

I agree. I hate it when they kill off the pets! [my pet peeve] I just finished reading a short story this morning where a cat got thrown of a building. I was so mad!
As for romance, I’m not sure. I do a lot of ghostwriting, and my clients are often very specific that they don’t want the main characters to have sexual involvement with anyone else. Must be a big rule!

Ami 

In terms of cheating. it depends on my mood — I mean, I’ve read when cheating happened, and I was okay with it as long as there’s SIGNIFICANT GROVELING happened in the book.

My romance No No are mostly about tropes… I don’t read Mpreg, I don’t read M/F/M or F/F/M. for example, rather than something in the plot.

I will have to tell you all I didn’t even mention last week one of my biggest bugaboos.  A  romance book where one of the MC was intensely involved with his own excrement. I believe that was my very first DNF story and it was years ago.  And yes, I found my limit on kink in that novel as well.  Another romance don’t for me.  So let’s hear from you all.  More on this cheating element and any other Romance Don’ts!

Lucky readers will be chosen next week to receive gift cards.  Now on this our week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words.

This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, July 1:

  • RELEASE BLITZ – Leaning into Forever by Lane Hayes
  • Hello July. More On Romance Don’ts For You.
  • This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Monday, July 2:

  • Release Blitz for Nobody Else’s by Nell Iris
  • Release Blitz Badlands by Morgan Brice
  • Release Day Blitz Magic or Die (Inner Demons #1) by JP Jackson
  • A Lucy Review: Nobody Else’s by Nell Iris
  • An Alisa Review: Challenge (Kinky in the City #2) by Quinn Ward
  • A Jeri Review: Wash Out (Anchor Point #7) by LA Witt
  • A MelanieM Review:  A Time For Secrets (Boystown #4) by Marshall Thornton

Tuesday. July 3:

  • BLOG TOUR TIGHT QUARTERS by Annabeth Albert
  • DSP Promo Rhett Heath
  • Release Blitz  Play it by Ear by KM Neuhold
  • A VVivacious Release Day Review:  Stranger in a Foreign Land by Michael Murphy
  • A MelanieM Review: Tight Quarters (Out of Uniform #6) by Annabeth Albert
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: From a Jack to a King by Scotty Cade
  • A Caryn Review: Finn (Endangered Fae #1) by Angel Martinez

Wednesday, July 4 (Happy Independence Day!) 🇺🇸

  • AUDIOBOOK TOUR – WITH A KICK Collection #1 by CLARE LONDON
  • Review Tour for  Rainbow Place (Rainbow Place #1) by Jay Northcote
  • REVIEW TOUR for Daniel (The Third Legacy) by RJ Scott
  • A Barb the  Zany Old Lady Review:  Daniel (The Third Legacy) by RJ Scott
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Rainbow Place (Rainbow Place #1) by Jay Northcote
  • An Alisa Audiobook Review: Treasure for Treasure (Being(s) in Love #7) by R. Cooper and Dominic Carlos (Narrator)
  • A Lucy Review: Play It By Ear by KM Neuhold

Thursday, July 5:

  • In the Spotlight Tour and Giveaway:  Cinderella Boy by Kristina Meister
  • BLOG TOUR fo My Crunchy Life by Mia Kerick
  • DSP Dreamspun Promo Michael Murphy on Stranger in a Foreign Land
  • A Free Dreamer Review: Armistice (The Amberlough Dossier #2) by Lara Elena Donnelly
  • A Lucy Audiobook Review: Bromantically Yours by K.C. Wells and Narrator: Daniel Henning
  • An Alisa Review:  That’s My Ethan by Tarian PS
  • A MelanieM Review: Murder Book (Boystown 5) by Marshall Thornton

Friday, July 6:

  • Cover Reveal for Curl Around My Heart by Londra Laine l
  • Review Tour and Giveaway for Stag and the Ash (The Rowan Harbor Cycle #5) by Sam Burns
  • Review Tour for Spark (North Star #1) by Posy Roberts
  • Blog Tour for  Magic or Die (Inner Demons, Book One) by JP Jackson
  • A Free Dreamer Review: Stag and The Ash (Rowan Harbor Cycle #5) by Sam Burns
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: Knitting a Broken Heart Back Together by Ari McKay
  • A Stella Review: Spark (North Star #1) by Posy Roberts

Saturday, July 7:

  • BLITZ – Leaning Into the Look by Lane Hayes
  • Release Blitz for  Knitting a Broken Heart Back Together by Ari McKay
  • A MelanieM Review: From the Ashes (Boystown #6) by Marshall Thornton

 

 

 

 

A Lucy Review: From This Window by Diana Jean

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Rating: 3 Stars out of 5

This is the very short (41 pages) story of Lucas and Jeremy.  The story is told from the point of view of Lucas, a hermit who exists in his apartment watching out the window at people, making stories about them and writing notes in notebook after notebook “He had never really written before he came to this apartment, but he found himself drawn to the idea of creating lives for these perfect strangers.”  He doesn’t have a job and only goes out to the café in his building and that is where he comes across Jeremy, who works there part-time.  Despite Jeremy’s beautiful smile and persistent friendliness, Lucas is rude and sarcastic to him always.

Lucas watches Jeremy, as well, as he heads down to work.  He always stops at the department store across the street before his shift and the reason for that is sweet.  Sometimes I couldn’t figure out why Jeremy kept up his pursuit of Lucas when Lucas was so adamantly against it but I’m glad he did.

Lucas is also rude to his brother, Kyle, the one member of his family who hasn’t given up on him even though his parents pay the rent on the apartment but it is ultimately Kyle that precipitates Lucas going over to Jeremy’s for a party.  One that he refused to attend when he was invited but Kyle visiting on Christmas Eve changes things.

Had this story been longer it would have been a 4 star at least for me.  The feel of Lucas’ depression was realistic.  “Sometimes you wake up and think the effort it takes to get out of bed is impossible.  Or the effort to get into the car, drive to work and be there for hours.  And you find out the effort of doing anything is so great that you just do nothing.”  It is never specifically stated but depression seems likely.  Jeremy seems sometimes too perfect and here again I’d have liked a little more fleshing out of the character. 

The cover art, a drawing of two men at a table in front of a window to the city, was a little too fluffy for the feel of the story.  While it ends hopeful, there is a lot of sadness within Lucas.

Sales Links:  Less Than Three Press|   Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition
Published June 18th 2018 by Less Than Three Press (first published November 30th 2013)
ASINB07DVNWCYC
Edition LanguageEnglish