A Free Dreamer Review: In the Name of Magic by Chris Bedell

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Rating: 1 star out of 5

Non-magical people are being demonized and falsely blamed for Magnifico’s economic problems after Queen Vivian’s bloody rise to power. But politics very quickly becomes more than abstract views to argue when secret police wolves are deployed throughout the country to kill those born without magical abilities.

Seventeen-year-old Maximillian’s best friend Katherine is one such nonmagical person. In a bid to keep her safe, Maximillian turns to the queen’s estranged younger brother, a man thought to be dead until recently.

Prince Stefan is nineteen years old and has been in hiding from his family for years. He has no desire to resurface in the political world, but Maximillian must convince him that the country needs him before it is too late.

Ninestar Press has a lot of brilliant LGBT+ Fantasy books, so I was really excited about “In the Name of Magic”. Sadly, it was a huge let-down.

The only interesting thing in the entire book was the idea that it was non-magical people being persecuted by magicals. Usually, it’s the other way round. But I still don’t know why the non-magicals were so hated. It takes only a few months till they’re held in concentration camps and killed quite openly. But why??? The whole story about the hatred of non-magicals essentially read like a badly written historical novel about WW2, with “Jews” swapped for “people without magic”. It doesn’t help that I really don’t like books about WW2.

Since this was obviously inspired by WW2, some pretty horrible things happened. But the characters were all extremely blasé about it. I mean, Katherine finds the bodies of her gruesomely murdered parents. Her reaction? “Oh dear.” A few pages later, she’s busy thinking about whether or not to dump her boyfriend. Seriously?

Maximillian was horrible. He keeps insisting how he’s a good son and always obedient and so on. All the while, he’s lying to his parents, sneaking around, drinking alcohol, and some other pretty horrible stuff, and he never ever has to face the consequences of his actions.

Stefan was just a poor little rich kid. We are told he had a horrible childhood and decided to run away from home. And the most horrible thing we learn is that his sister got more presents than he did. Oh, woe me.

There is zero world-building. All we learn about magic is that it exists. It’s sort of implied that it’s hereditary, I guess, but that’s it. How does it work? Do you need somebody to teach you? Do you learn this stuff at school? The magic seemed to have no influence on the world itself. Not that we learn all that much about that either. Big chunks of the plot just didn’t make sense. If you can teleport, why do you need cars?

And oh my gosh, the writing style. It was just so weird. “He elevated his eyebrows.” “He beamed his eyes.” Really? This was practically screaming for an editor. After a while, I just skipped paragraphs and only read the dialogue, which was tolerable.

When I told a friend about this book, she said, “So, essentially, the very first idea the author had for this book had potential, but the whole rest was just plain bad?” And that’s a pretty adequate summary. I suppose the ending (which I thought made no sense) calls for a sequel. But not with me, thank you very much.

The cover by Natasha Snow is a bit generic and doesn’t really fit the story. It looks more like a post-apocalyptic setting.

Sales Links:  NineStar Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 185 pages
Published October 22nd 2018 by NineStar Press
ISBN 139781949909005
Edition Language English

A VVivacious Review: Spare Parts by T.J.Land

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Rating: 2 Stars out of 5

Meteor, Gloss and Spike are slaves to a technologically superior species but they manage to escape from their owners, masters and creators. In a bid to win freedom for all tools, Meteor hatches a plan, an ingenious but extremely foolhardy one. Along with his companions, Meteor is going to find out just how difficult and distracting Earth and its inhabitants can be.

This book is a science fiction space odyssey with a group of sentient beings fighting for freedom from their oppressors. It mostly details the struggles of the tools (or scavengers as they later decide to call themselves) as they attempt to escape the control of the Gentle Folk, the technologically advanced species. Though it does feature a tentative romance between a human and a tool and a maybe developing one between two tools (the human identifies as male and all other tools involved in said relationships refer to themselves as he), this book’s primary focus is not the romance and it gets little development in the grand scheme of things. If you haven’t thought it already, think Westworld and you will have a general idea where this story is going. The rest of this review has my views on the book and it’s definitely me, not the book.

This book started out amazing, with three robots on a mission to free their fellow beings from service under the “Gentle Folk” by hatching a plan so far-fetched it might just be brilliant. I loved how the book tried to incorporate how bizarre humans would appear to any intelligent being not familiar with us and it was amazing that the author was able to depict just how difficult it will be to do anything in a world you know very little about, like just finding a place to start would have you tearing your hair out and I loved that part of this story. Meteor, Gloss and Spike’s struggles to make head or tails of humans led to some interesting developments which I enjoyed thoroughly. The story has really organic developments that help make it more than just the narration.

But then the Gentle Folk themselves made it down to Earth and things just changed perspective in my mind. All of a sudden that fight for freedom that Meteor, Gloss and Spike were pursuing that seemed mostly benign became dangerous enough to destroy humankind. I could imagine being in the place of the humans in this story and I could imagine being in place of the Gentle Folk but all of a sudden, the slave-master analogy that I was applying to explain away the tools feelings blew up in my face because they aren’t master and slave, they are creator and created. This blew up this story to the realm of metaphysical debate in my brain and it literally became Westworld for me which I didn’t like for similar reasons. Do we need to have such debates when we are nowhere near creating a true AI and secondarily do we really have to think about what species that as of yet remain undiscovered might be doing on their home-worlds? Maybe but we would be having those debates in a safe cocoon where either thing though not impossible is still pretty distant. I feel like when these debates are anywhere near affecting our reality we will hopefully have better tools to deal with them, or we won’t and we will screw it up like science fiction has me believing because truly what is the right way? I found myself exceedingly worried about the fate of the Earth. Here were these super-robots inhabiting Earth who were quick to pull the trigger and capable of vaporizing any evidence thereafter, free to terrorize humans for all eternity. If they decided to wipe us out a millennium from now we would all be dead and they would still be here and that made me vulnerable. The third point of view that I couldn’t find myself taking to was the point of view of the tools because that would bring up some serious questions about God and well do we really want Gods like the Gentle Folk? Will there come a time when the tools, who rebelled and killed their creators, will worship those very same Creators and what about our creator if there indeed is a being that created us?

This book was really interesting. Initially, while I found it intriguing, I was a bit reserved about if I would like it but I was surprised by just how well written it was and how it was able to truly get me to sympathize and appreciate it’s characters. I didn’t like the violence in this book and not because I am squeamish because frankly it isn’t like graphic violence where you can feel the blood dripping but I just resented that it was there because it had me acutely aware of exactly how defenseless we, humans, are. In fact, towards the end of the book, I was glad that the story was going to end on a debate with the fate of the tools/scavengers somewhat settled as their journey for freedom continues when Bam! Violence. I mean how stupid are these Gentle Folk that they have absolutely no idea what their creations have become but I guess, that is the whole idea that they have no idea.

I didn’t enjoy this book much so I am not going to give it a high rating but this one was definitely a case of it’s me not you because I am pretty sure people who don’t have my hang-ups are sure to enjoy this one and maybe even have answers to the various questions this book poses.

I would definitely like to mention some things I liked. The moment when they decide not to torture Bek because Gonzalo thought they were impressive was an amazing moment which kind of lost its shine in face of the casual speciesism that the tools/scavengers threw out but it remains a pretty splendid moment despite the dings. Also, I loved how these three had their personalities change organically throughout the story despite having nothing organic about themselves to boot.

One thing I definitely didn’t like was that all the tools became more human. It would have been nice if they could have introduced the gender concept of their owners instead of just their technology because I am sure that the Gentle Folk definitely will have some novel concepts that can help mankind.

I guess the reason I really didn’t like this book was that in the end no one in this book really cares about your fate, the fate of human beings and that was just unsettling because by the end of the book they are the only beings I could identify with.

Cover Art by Natasha Snow is beautiful as always but it gives kind of a horror-suspense feel which doesn’t gel well with the feel of the book.

Sales Links:  NineStar Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook
Published October 22nd 2018 by NineStar Press
ISBN139781949909012
Edition LanguageEnglish

It’s November and This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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It’s November

November has finally arrived here.  It came with blustery winds and a drop in temperatures!  Almost overnight the leaves changed in color and our Indian summer vanished and fall arrived with a crispness to the air and that greyness in the skies.   All those trick or treaters just got in under the weather wire here and had a wonderful time.  Yes the  hoards descended!

But now its quiet, the winds howling and snatching the falls leaves up and away.  Again, a wonderful night to be reading. Only the foxes, raccoons, deer, and owls at play.

We had some great comments and recommendations for scary titles and  books so  lets finish up and get the winners names out.  As I  happily scarf down leftover Halloween candy (always buy the good stuff), the winners of the What Books go Boo for You Giveaway are H.B. and Purple Reader!  Congratulations to you both!  Contact Stella, Principessa of the Giftcards for yours.  We will finish up with some last minute recs for scary stories from P.R.:I’ve got a few left over recs that I enjoyed and thought others might too:

From Purple Reader:

Did I mention spirits? How about a couple series about paranormal investigators:
HELLSINGER series (FISH & GHOSTS, DUCK DUCK GHOSTS) by Rhys Ford
– and this one starts off in a Charming way:
A CHARM OF MAGPIES series by K.J. Charles
– On the other end, a shadowy, savage dystopia:
FALLOCAUST series by Quil Carter
– If necrophiliacs are your thing, or aren’t:
COLD FINGERS by Amy Spector
– I haven’t read them all, and not all are queer themed, but the author is iconic:
THE BOOKS OF BLOOD Vols. 1-6 by Clive Barker

 

Now for this week, an old favorite of mine and maybe yours is back.  I’m reviewing their third book in Ethan Day’s Summit City series called Life In Union (Summit City #3) by Ethan Day. Yep! Boone is back!  It’s hilarious! Sno ho’s and all.  If you aren’t familiar, grab up the first two and get ready for this one.  It’s a doozy.  A terrific M/M Historical from Eli Easton, The Lion and the Crow, that I read a long time ago, came alive again, in the audio version.  Never heard that narrator before.  He’s amazing.  Plus I have to mention that I’m also reviewing the next in the Pinx Video series from Marshall Thornton, Late Fees, a must read too.

There is also hockey, shifters, holiday stories and more coming up this  week so  don’t miss a day of it.  The countdown begins.

Happy November everyone!  Happy Reading.

 

 

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday,  November 4:

  • It’s November
  • This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
  • Book Blast with Reviews – Boy Next Door (Hot Off the Ice #5) by A. E. Wasp
  • A MelanieM Review:  Boy Next Door (Hot Off the Ice #5) by A. E. Wasp
  • A Chaos Moondrawn Review: One Step Back by Edie Danford
  • A Stella Releases Day Review: Strays by A.J. Thomas

Monday, November 5:

  • BLOG TOUR Better Not Pout by Annabeth Albert
  • Release Day Blast Mama, Me, and the Holiday Tree Author: Jeanne
  • REVIEW TOUR – False Flag (The Phisher King, #2) Clancy Nacht & Thursday Euclid
  • A Lucy Review: Bump by Matthew J. Metzger
  • A VVivacious Review: Spare Parts by T.J.Land
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: Better Not Pout by Annabeth Albert

Tuesday, November 6:

  • In the Spotlight Tour and Giveaway: Surreal Estate by Jesi Lea Ryan
  • Release Blitz Ari McKay – Seeking Solace
  • An Alisa Release Day Review: Fangs for the Memories by Julia Talbot
  • A MelanieM Review: Life In Union (Summit City #3) by Ethan Day
  • A Free Dreamer Review: In the Name of Magic by Chris Bedell
  • A Chaos Moondrawn Release Day Review: Bad Habit (Bad in Baltimore #6) by  K.A. Mitchell

Wednesday, November 7:

  • Promo Andrew Grey
  • Release Blitz – His Two Leading Men by Aidan Wayne
  • Blog Tour – Why I… series by Colette Davison
  • An Ashez Review: Capital Assets  (Rattle on Wall Street #1)  by Cecelia Storm
  • An Alisa Review:  Fling by Baylin Crow
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: Seeking Solace (The Walker Boys 3) by Ari McKay

Thursday, November 8:

  • Promo -Sean Michael
  • Book Blast – The Signal Box by Lazlo Thorn
  • An Alisa Review Carnival Cowboy by Temple Madison
  • A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Trusted (Until You #3) by Karrie Roman
  • An Ali Audio Review: No Tears for Darcy by Vicki Reese and Brock Hatton (Narrator)
  • A MelanieM Audiobook Review:The Lion and the Crow by Eli Easton and Scott Richard Ehredt

Friday, November 9:

  • TOUR Rabi and Matthew by L.A. Witt
  • Release Blitz – Leta Blake – Alpha Heat
  • do you think we should’ve glued it first? by Bobbie Rayne Book Blast
  • An Alisa Review: Sugar Cookies & Mistletoe by Kay Doherty
  • A Lucy Release Day Review: The Kinsey Scale (Campus Connections #1) by CJane Elliott
  • A Lila Review To Tame an Omega by Lisa Gray
  • A MelanieM Audio Review:Love You so Madly (Love You So Stories #2by Tara Lain and Ry Forest (Narrator)

Saturday, November 10:

A MelanieM Recent Release Review: Late Fees (Pinx Video Mysteries, #3) by Marshall Thornton

A MelanieM Review: The Rising Tide (Liminal Sky #2) by J. Scott Coatsworth

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Liminal Sky: Book Two

Earth is dead.

 

Five years later, the remnants of humanity travel through the stars inside Forever, a living, ever-evolving, self-contained generation ship. When Eddy Tremaine and Andy Hammond find a hidden world-within-a-world under the mountains, the discovery triggers a chain of events that could fundamentally alter or extinguish life as they know it, culminate in the takeover of the world mind, and end free will for humankind.

 

Control the AI, control the people.

 

Eddy, Andy, and a handful of other unlikely heroes—people of every race and identity, and some who aren’t even human—must find the courage and ingenuity to stand against the rising tide.

 

Otherwise they might be living through the end days of human history.

When I finished The Stark Divide, the first novel in J. Scott Coatsworth’s science fiction trilogy, I knew I was into something extraordinary.  Not only was it highly imaginative, but the science was there as well as the emotional, mental, and physical elements from the characters (and  pulled from the readers) that went along with the death of a home world and the launching of a vessel for space exploration and the saving of the human race.  That story has it all.  Intrigue, AIs, a magnificent space vessel  called Forever that was home to the remnants of humanity and at the end the introduction of a familiar villainy.   I was hopelessly lost  and hopelessly addicted.  There was  romance in a place where gender plays an increasingly lesser role. But romance is not the main factor here.  It’s the survival of Forever and humanity that’s at stake and that’s where we pick up in The Rising Tide.

As I have stated before, I’m prone to reading author’s introductions so you all know that I started with J. Scott Coatsworth’s here.  He tells the story of the titles of the novels, how they came about as well as the overall one for the trilogy, Liminal Sky.  In The Rising Tide we dive into the true meaning of that in epic proportions!

There is not any way to discuss individual characters within this novel in a review, especially for The Rising Tide.  There are simply far too many important main characters, scads of them really.  Each and every one has a different, startling role to play within this mind boggling science fiction tale.  How do you highlight Andy and leave out Marissa?  You don’t.  To discuss how beautifully each character is created would take up gobs up space and quite frankly I’d rather you all read the book.  There are simply no throwaway characters here, even ones that make brief appearances are used to high emotional impact.

There are also some very dark moments for the people here and that comes through science and it’s misuse, something they thought they had left back on Earth.

There are moments when I wept, pages of high anxiety and suspense, times when I went as limp as a noodle when momentarily the action went slack, and yes, sniffled again when it all came back together in an astonishing climax!  What a wild narrative ride this was!  I loved every word of it.  The author did an immaculate job here and I applaud him.

The Rising Tide is the middle or transitioning story of the Liminal Sky trilogy.  The term liminal can mean occupying both sides of a boundary or a threshold, the initial stages of transitioning which is what is happening here.  The people are transitioning away from the Old Earth ways and heading finally towards whatever future lies ahead, what they find, what they make as they voyage through space on Forever.  Through a journey of adventure, horror, love, sacrifice, science, even death,  J. Scott Coatsworth delivers an epic tale of transition.

There’s one book left to go.  I cannot wait to read it.

Earth is dead.   Let’s find out what J. Scott Coatsworth has in store for humanity in the last story in the Liminal Sky trilogy.    What a magnificent two novels to date!  I highly recommend them both.  They must be read in the order they are written.  Then meet me here as we eagerly await the release of the third.

Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson.  I love these cover.  This  one is absolutely gorgeous and is a great representation of an element of the story.

Sales Links: DSP Publications | Amazon | iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | QueeRomance Ink | Goodreads

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 388 pages
Published October 30th 2018 by DSP Publications (first published October 16th 2018)
ASINB07D8GFSJW
Series Liminal Sky :

The Stark Divide

The Rising Tide

A MelanieM Review: Green Death by Madeleine Ribbon

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

 

For ninety years, the Exclusion Zone has been walled off from the rest of the country. The neighborhood—once a hotbed of political revolution—is now crumbling. Poison from the great catastrophe still hangs in the air. It taints every living thing that breathes it in. It causes rages, great bursts of violence that can’t be controlled. And that makes living within the walls incredibly difficult. But the descendants of the catastrophe survive, and the resistance hasn’t died.

As poison master to the Oligarch, Tryg Sant knows a lot of things others shouldn’t. But when he discovers his family’s darkest secret, his brother tries to kill him.

When Tryg’s lover pushes him out of a helicopter and into the Exclusion Zone, Tryg finds himself trapped in a dangerous new world, entirely different from the one he expects. Now he has to learn to survive nearly-feral humans and his own disintegrating mind. Luckily, he’s found an ally in Riot, a potential lover and one of the victims of the Green Death…

I’m familiar with this author through her Faire Folk series, which I loved, btw.  But those books did not prepare me for the dark power and narrative fire that I found in Green Death by Madeleine Ribbon, a dystopian novel that is truly formidable and amazing.

Set in a post apocalyptic world, the setting is an  broken America, a large part now run by a power conglomeration of families, democracy a faint echo of the past.  A foul chemical disaster of catastrophic proportions killed millions and created a sector now known as the Exclusion Zone where a menacing and genetically deadly green fog hovers over the area.  Those living within its walls are forever changed and are known as “Greenies”.  The whites of their eyes changed to green, their genes modified by the chemicals, as is their behavior and physicality…new strengths and more…for the ones that survive.  But  also more pain to live with.

Those living outside?  Look upon those inside as beasts, things  now apart from the human race, unable to control themselves and their baser instincts, Vile animals, less than human certainly.   Definitely creatures to be kept apart by the wall that now separates the two areas and groups.  And fog.

Madeleine Ribbon has created an incredible story.  Her world building is dark, compelling, and given our current state of global affairs and environmental fragility, frightening.  We start off the story with Tryg.  A young member of the ruling family, he’s a master poisoner and has been for most his life (working with the menagerie of venomous/poisonous creatures and making poisons since he was 8).  It’s been his role in his family, not by choice, however, and, trying to make a new path for himself and his family will change everything for him.

Tryg is quite the character as he undergoes tremendous changes over the course of this story.  Changes in emotional, mental, and yes, physical state.  His entire outlook, his perception is taken, shaken, and remade given the events and his experiences. And it’s through  Tryg, that we experience it all as well.  We are intimately connected with him through the power of Ribbon’s ability to pull us into this man’s inner turmoil and make it ours.  We feel his hopes, shattered dreams, and then watch it start to be reborn once more.  And others along with him.

If you are looking for romance, this is probably not the story for you.  Love yes, romance no.  Without going into too much depth because there’s just so much to this element in the novel, but part of the effect of the “green fog” is that a person’s baser instincts control their actions.  First actions upon hearing someone speak or move will not be rational thought.  Instead it will be to kill, to rape, to beat, or if unlucky to run….depending upon your triggers. A large percentage obviously don’t make it to adulthood under these conditions.  Ribbon has also created layered societies within the Exclusion Zone that I found fascinating.  Honestly?  My only complaint is that I didn’t wander around enough in this wild wounded sector that the author has created.  It’s scary, weird, and addicting.  I wanted to know more of the history of what happened and the people that survived there.  Especially those that passed the tests.  Those tests!  Something else so unbelievably haunting and real.  No not giving those away.

Anyhow, back to no romance.  Within such a world, how could there possibly be any such thing as romance?  There can’t and isn’t.  But there can be a type of love and hope.   And it isn’t who you think it will be.  This book has so many shocks and surprises in store for its reader.  The choices the author makes from the Oligarch to the rebels, not a narrative wrong turn is made.  It’s often dark, frequently violent and scary, but always gripping, never letting the reader go from a story that keeps you glued to each and every word until it’s over.

This book is beautifully written, the characters are fully realized, the entire novel has great imagination, and the world building is incredible.  It’s  exactly what I want in my  stories, delivered 100 percent!

If you love science fiction, if you love stories about dystopian societies Green Death by Madeleine Ribbon is absolutely a book for you.  I highly recommend it.  I would love to see more in this universe and hope the author is listening.

Cover Artist: Fiona Jayde.  Great cover.  Depicts the poisonous fog that envelopes the sector and the character perfectly.

Sales Links:

Amazon | Kobo | Barnes & Noble

 

Book Details:

ebook, 394 pages
Published November 2nd 2018
ISBN 139780990320746
Edition Language English
Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex
Romance Pairings: Male/Male
Genre: Romance, Science Fiction
Tags: Dystopian/post apocalyptic

A Free Dreamer Review: Siege Weapons (The Galactic Captains #1) by Harry F. Rey

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Captain Ales is a lonely smuggler at the galaxy’s Outer Verge, and the last of his people. He’s been trying to move on from a life of drugs and meaningless sex, but finding love in this forgotten corner of the galaxy is difficult.

When he’s sent on a mysterious smuggling mission to a world under siege, he’s enticed by promises of the domination he craves. But soon Ales finds himself entwined in a galactic power struggle that could cost him everything.

I don’t know what exactly I expected after the blurb, but “Siege Weapons” definitely surprised me. 

This is one of the publisher’s “literary/genre” titles, so this is more Sci Fi with a gay MC than anything else. Which is something I’m always on the lookout for, so yay. There are several explicit sex scenes, with pretty heavy BDSM in the second half, but no real romance to speak of. The sex was hot but I can see how the BDSM elements might make some people uncomfortable. They aren’t really of the “safe, sane, consensual” sort, even if there’s no rape in this story – past or present.

Ales is a complicated man. I think we barely touched the surface of his personality. There were so many layers of him and new sides kept popping up that I really didn’t expect. I’m not sure I actually liked him in a traditional way, though I certainly cared for him. He’s the most important person of the story and we don’t learn much about the other characters, which don’t get much on-page time.

I like my books to be angsty, so I’ve read some pretty dark stuff. But “Siege Weapons” is a whole different kind of heavy. The flashbacks to Ales’ past really made my hair stand on end. And even though this is set in the distant future, it reminded me a great deal of how our world works atm. I was close to choking up once or twice, which very rarely happens.

The world building was really interesting. We meet all kinds of aliens or “homos”, as they’re called in this universe. Ales could probably called a racist, so a lot of that experience is coloured by his rather negative emotions. We also get a lot of space travel and intergalactic politics. It’s a wonder how the author managed to fit all of those elements into such a short book and make it all seem so natural.

The plot has a pretty good balance between fast-paced action scenes with a fair bit of violence and quiet introspection. There were quite a few twists and turns and that epilogue was very unexpected.

Overall, I really, really liked “Siege Weapons”. It’s solid Sci Fi with a gay MC with a lot of issues. There’s sex, but no real romance. If that’s the sort of thing that makes you sit up and pay attention, then I believe this book is for you. If, however, you’re on the hunt for a solid romance set in space, then this you’ll want to keep looking.

Personally, I’m really looking forward to the next part in the series. I want to know what happens next!

The cover by Natasha Snow is pretty cool and gives you the right idea about the contents of the book.

Sales Links:  NineStar Press |Kindle  |  Amazon

Book details: Kindle Edition, 143 pages

Published September 24th 2018 by NineStar Press

A Chaos Moondrawn Prerelease Review: The Bones Beneath My Skin by T.J. Klune

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

After the death of Nate’s parents, he takes the truck he inherited to the cabin they left him in order to take some time to grieve. The drive to the cabin lets us get to know Nate and his family history; it should come as no surprise it is gut wrenching stuff from this author. If possible, Nate’s night is about to become a whole lot worse, or better–at least interesting.

When he encounters the man and girl at his cabin, the series of events are strange. The main question I think anyone would have is, why does Nate go along with everything happening? There is his curiosity, of course. He is a journalist, so it’s in his nature to dig and want information. There is shock, and sometimes you just go along with what is going on around you and do what you’re told. Sometimes when you have nothing to lose, you make different decisions than you normally would. But if he thought his life was toast before, it is really crispy now, and there is no turning back into bread ever again (read the book.)

The thing is, even in a book full of strange and impossible things, these characters are more real than the characters in most stories. Art is that child that is too knowing, yet is still excited about every new thing. Nate is that man who has lost faith in the world and himself, but he can still surprise himself. Alex is the man who is resurrected from the ashes of his own life with a new purpose. The forced intimacy of them staying alone in an isolated place, and then being on the run together, works well. The slow burn finally gets kindled when everything snaps into place–when we know they are there by choice, rather than just letting events carry them. The author set this book in the 1990’s, so the use of political events, news, and pop culture help keep it grounded in the period.

The story is told from Nate’s POV, so it’s easy to sympathize with his emotions: as he gets attached to Alex and Artemis Darth Vader, as he has his existential crisis, as he experiences things so foreign to the way his neat ordered world was before. I laughed and cried reading this. There are times we do get to see other points of view that I enjoyed and added to the emotional impact of what was happening. It’s very difficult to review without spoilers, and really her name should tell you all you need to know. The genius of this book is not that I didn’t see what was happening beforehand–it is that I was still shocked and horrified when things happened. Then, I had no idea how the story was going to get out of the walls it had built; don’t worry, it walks through them.

The ending does go to an omnipotent observer POV before switching back to Nate’s POV and that annoyed me for a second. The epilogue was the best ending I could have hoped for, the one that made sense. There is a lot to be said for people being fearful of those different, of fear turning to violence, but there is more to be said for love and hope, of building the family you choose. What sets it apart from other science fiction in a similar vein, is that it focuses on the heart and mind of the characters, so this is not hard science fiction, more of a character study. I would recommend it.

The cover art is by Reese Dante and has a “so above, so below” feel that works well for the subject matter and the idea of how we are all stardust.

Sales Links on 10/26:
Book Details:
ebook, 385 pages
Expected publication: October 26th 2018 by TJ Klune
Original Title The Bones Beneath My Skin
ISBN139781732399914
Edition Language English
setting Oregon (United States)

A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Expeditions, Estimation, and Other Dangerous Pastimes (Claimings #4) by Lyn Gala

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Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

This is the fourth book in the Claimings series with an overarching plot, so these should be read in order. There are also alien words used without context, which you would need to be aware of beforehand. This is the continuation of Liam and Ondry’s journey aboard the Rownt ship Calti, to seek trade with the Imshee.

One of the things I like about this series, like all good science fiction, is viewing the absurdities of humanity, when trying to explain them to an alien race. I always enjoy the discussions of linguistics and psychology. The fact that this happens after a rousing bout of alien sex, made me laugh. Quite a lot of this book made me laugh and appeals to my dry sense of humor, although be warned the depictions of sex and biological functions are a bit graphic and crude. Anyway, if you have been following this series and like those linguistics discussions, those are increased in this book due to Zach and Liam both being in the linguist field, them both learning from each other aboard ship, and meeting a new alien species.

In the last book, Zach came aboard as a palteia to a Grandmother who is now his chilta. The nearest translation in English to palteia seems to be submissive (although these relationships are not sexual in Rownt culture.) A chilta would have the “dom” role of protecting and helping a palteia, who are a highly regarded in Rownt culture. This opportunity gives the Rownt a way to learn about humanity without all of that burden remaining on Liam. It’s also intriguing to see a higher ranked human than Liam, but someone with less experience with the Rownt, navigate the complexities of the society, culture, and language. The change in dynamics is a way to show us Liam’s place in the world, in both cultures.

The author shows Liam and Ondry established in their relationship of mutual trust and love. Liam’s confidence has grown and as Liam has become more Rownt in his thinking, Ondry has also become more human in his. Ondry has also gotten even more overprotective the more he reads human medical texts. If fact, the whole reason for this book is fear of human physiology and aging–Ondry wanting Liam’s lifespan to be more compatible with his and for Liam to be less breakable. I love how Liam asserts himself to be an equal partner in decisions that affect their lives and status in a way he never would have earlier in the series. But while Liam seems more confident, in some ways Ondry seems less so.

There is a bit of repetition in Ondry’s thoughts and on the obsession with palteia throughout the book, but that is a minor niggle. Overall, this is a good contribution to the series, although not my favorite. The Cy, a race that traded with the Rownt thousands of years ago, are mentioned as how they learned folded space technology. I do hope this goes somewhere in a story, whether set in the past or the present. Of course, the Imshee contact with humans is a frightening prospect. I understand why Liam would want what the Imshee offer as he will live out the rest of his life with Ondry; I am unsure of why Zach would consent when he has a five year contract, especially since if he were to go back to Earth, I would expect the military to experiment on him. I would be happy for the author to pick any of these plot bunnies that she seeded in this story.

The cover artist is Anna Sikorska. It’s in keeping with the series in style and color palette and I think represents the story well.

Sales Links:  Amazon link coming
Book Details:
ebook, Patreon edition
Expected publication: October 23rd 2018
Edition Language English
URLhttp://www.patreon.com/lyngala
Series Claimings #4

A Free Dreamer Review: Priest & Pariahs (Centauri Survivors Second Chance Chronicles #3) by J. Alan Veerkamp

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Costa McQuillen has escaped from Earth, where being para-human—a Pariah—with tech empathic abilities is illegal, and marks him for extermination. Arrogant and standoffish, Costa is unable to trust anyone but is willing to risk everyone’s safety in his desperate effort to reach the planet Omoikane. His best solution, gaining passage on board the Santa Claus.

Arbor Kittering is the crew’s newest coding tech. Having spent a short time in prison for data hacking and falsifying government files, the Santa Claus is his last chance at a new start—if he can decipher the strange malfunctions plaguing the ship.

Eugene “Priest” Jones, the Santa Claus’s Head Pilot, is a bit of a scoundrel. Perpetually single, Priest is attracted to Costa and Arbor. In truth, he’d like to have both, but it’s clear even his grifting and gambling skills can’t make that happen.

Now as they all travel together, it appears Priest needs to make a choice before it’s too late as each of their lives intertwine with potentially dangerous and deadly consequences.

I didn’t realize “Priest & Pariahs” is actually part three of a series before I began reading it. It works perfectly fine as a standalone, though.

After reading the blurb, I’d hoped for a good SciFi story with potentially a MMM dynamic. Those were the completely wrong expectations. This book is mostly porn, with a whole lot of romance drama, and a bit of SciFi to spice things up. Needless to say, I was rather disappointed by that.

The setting baffled me. The Santa Claus seems to be a sex cruise, essentially. Only gay men are allowed, be it staff or passengers. And everybody’s having sex with everyone, pretty much, which is very much encouraged by the Captain. That seems a bit unrealistic, sexual and romantic relationships inevitably lead to conflicts and when you’re stuck on a spaceship for weeks on end, that really doesn’t seem like a good way to keep a ship running.

Costa was the most interesting of the three MCs. Sadly, he also got the least on-page time. He remained pretty flat and a lot of questions about his past were left unanswered.

Arbor was a bit annoying. I get that he was feeling very insecure, given his past. But it seemed over the top.

Priest was boring and horribly insensitive. I could have done without him. The book would probably have been much more interesting, had it been about Arbor and Costa.

The romance was quite rushed. I never really felt the spark between Arbor and Priest. Especially Priest gave me whiplash with his change of attraction. There’s a ton of relationship drama that frankly got old fast. I don’t have patience for this stuff.

What really bothered me were the very demeaning reactions to Arbor. I can see how he would draw a lot of attention in a world where disabilities are essentially non-existent. But calling somebody “dwarf” or “midget” is just not okay and it’s not funny either.

There was no world building to speak of. Maybe there was a bit more ground work in the previous books, but “Priest & Pariahs” was pretty much a porny romance drama set on a spaceship, with some other SciFi elements thrown in for the heck of it.

Overall, “Priest & Pariahs” just wasn’t for me. I’m still not a traditional romance reader and I need more than sex scenes and relationship woes to keep me engaged. As it is, the book left me cold and kinda “meh”.

The cover by Natasha Snow is a bit boring. The blue is pretty but I’m not a fan of covers with some random guy and nothing else.

Sales Links:  NineStar Press | Amazon

Book details:

ebook, Second Edition
Published September 24th 2018 by NineStar Press (first published July 29th 2016)
ISBN139781949340761
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Centauri Survivors Second Chance Chronicles #3, Ship Logs of the Santa Claus #3

M.D. Grimm on the Need to Write and the new SyFy Saga ‘Leopold (Saga of the Bold People #1)’ (guest post, excerpt, and giveaway)

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Leopold

Leopold (Saga of the Bold People #1)

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host M.D. Grimm here today on tour for their latest release, Leopold.  Welcome!

✒︎

Discovery of the need to Write by M.D. Grimm

Good day folks!

Thanks for joining me to celebrate my newest release, Leopold (Saga of the Bold People 1). It is an m/m romance sci-fi epic, and it’s the first book of a 6-book saga. I am super excited to finally release this bad boy that’s taken me around eight years to revise and edit.

I realized I wanted to write in the second grade. No joke. We had a silly assignment to write a short story (1 page long) using all or most of the words the teacher provided on the blackboard. I loved it way too much. Every time there was a story-writing assignment, no matter how silly or simple, I leapt on it, giving all the effort I could muster. I started writing really short stories off and on, and then I entered middle school and became a voracious reader.

During my college years, I collected ideas but didn’t write, due to time and mental capacity restraints. However, during my study abroad in Ireland one summer I wrote a short m/m romance titled “A Giant’s Friend.” It became my first published book. Granted, it got mixed reviews, and some nasty negative reviews, but I was still proud of it (it has since been re-pubbed in my anthology “Guardians of a Giant’s Treasure”). I submitted my second story to Dreamspinner Press, and it received better reviews than the first. That story was “Psychic Moon,” the first book in my The Shifters series.

It was only after several more submissions and releases that I started to get a feel for this “writing thing” that I do. I’m still learning and growing and each story is an opportunity to flex my muscles and challenge myself. I’m still learning my own style of writing and what characters and situations I tend toward.

Leopold came out of the blue one fine summer day. He beamed his thoughts into my mind, and I was off to the races. Unfortunately, I wasn’t equipped to write his story correctly the first time so after years (!) and countless edits and re-writes I finally know he’s ready to be released.

Now I have to jump on book two. I never do anything the easy way. Counting Leopold, I am now currently working on four series simultaneously. And I work 40 hours a week at my day job. Shot me now.

I have three stories contracted with Dreamspinner Press for 2019: a vampire story, the latest shifter book (#13), and the prequel to “On Wings of Thunder.”

Until next time,

May dragons guard your dreams,

M.D. Grimm

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M.D. Grimm has a new MM sci fi book out:

How does a human survive in an alien dominated InterGalactic Community? By becoming an assassin, of course.

At least, that’s what Leopold thought when he became an assassin for the elite. Pretending to be an alien known as Voidstriker, Leopold feeds his appetite for vengeance, killing aliens as well as taking their money. It’s a win-win to his mind. That is, until a bounty is placed upon his head.

With his true identity now revealed to the IG Community, Leopold knows it’s only a matter of time before the powerful family members of his victims come for blood. Far worse is the fact that the one who put the bounty on his head, is the one he most fears.

A routine job three cycles ago brought him face-to-face with Mastrodai, a prince of the powerful Mrrog Nation. Not only did Leopold—accidentally—destroy part of Mastrodai’s moon, but one glimpse of the mighty alien had him feeling desire for the first time in his life. He ran, and like predator after prey, Mastrodai never stopped hunting him.

Leopold is convinced that Mastrodai wants bloody revenge. But when he finally confronts the mrrog, he is stunned to realize Mastrodai wants something very different. Something surprisingly intimate—the one thing that scares Leopold more than torture.

Amazon | Smashwords


Giveaway

M.D. is giving away one eBook copy of her book Ruby: Lost and Found with this tour. Enter via Rafflecopter:

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Excerpt

Leopold meme

I climbed out the broken window onto the platform and tried to activate my holo-cuffs again. After several failed attempts, I realized they weren’t going to help me. Damn things were shit! Swallowing my curses, I jammed on my helmet and started to climb down. By the third floor, the ladder had been broken. I would need to jump. Fantastic. Three levels down. If I landed slightly wrong I would at worst break something, at best sprain something. I had no choice. My helmet impeded by vision so I took it off. I dangled it from my fingertips for a moment before letting it drop. To me, the sound it made upon impact was like a crack of thunder, but it was merely a thud. I took a deep breath and crawled down as much of the ladder as I could, and hung there a moment, gauging my descent.

One, two… three.I let go and hit the ground on my feet and rolled, taking off most of the pressure. It jarred me, but nothing sprained or broke. Success!

I stood, about to grab my helmet, when I saw figures coming toward the mouth of the alley. I froze. I recognized them. They were mrrogs, and that meant he couldn’t be too far behind.

I shivered violently, demanding my legs to move. It took them a moment before they finally got the idea. I crouched slowly on the ground before moving silently backward. One foot, one hand, one foot… on and on until I reached the other end of the alley. I kept myself against the wall, in the shadows, and knew they hadn’t seen me. They were too busy contemplating my land cruiser. If they tried to deactivate the security system it would blow them up, along with the cruz. I would lose my baby, yes, but I would rather it be trash then have it in their hands.

I reached the end of the alley and continued to crouch until I turned the corner, and was out of their line of vision. My heart thundered annoyingly in my ears, and I bowed my head, steadying my breathing. Okay, my cruz was screwed. I couldn’t open fire on them without alerting everyone in the vicinity. I couldn’t run the distance to my ship and needed another way to get to it. I would have to steal a transport.

Great, I had a plan, such as it was. I stood, took two steps back for good measure, and ran into something. I stilled. It wasn’t a building and it wasn’t a transport as I was on the bloody sidewalk. No, it was a body. My heart fluttered, and I knew who it was without a doubt. My body knew, my damn, traitorous body. I could feel his heat pump against my own cold body, and I felt his chest move as he breathed. How did I not sense him behind me? My mouth opened in a silent scream because I knew this was it, I was caught. I shouted mentally at my legs to move but it was as if they were rooted to the blasted ground.

A small breeze blew from behind me, behind us, and I caught his scent. My stupid cock jumped to attention. Kill me now, please. He smelled wonderful. I wanted to close my eyes and wallow in it without any other thought in my head. I wanted to melt against him and have those strong arms—

My eyes had nearly closed when I popped them open. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something move. I tracked the large arm, covered in a black sleeve, and the golden hand as it lifted and came toward me. My legs finally kicked into action, and I ducked agilely and rolled under his raised arm before straightening, and running faster than I ever had in my life. I heard him shout out orders in a deep voice. I realized it was the first time I’d ever heard him speak. Despite the situation, I thought he had a lovely voice. I jerked out of that stupid thought when I heard rapid footsteps behind me. Was he chasingme?

I glanced behind, saw the truth in those blazing yellow eyes, in that golden face, and pumped my legs faster. I wove and dodged around large trash bins, unable to keep myself from glancing back. Mastrodai simply leapt overthe trash bins, landing on his hands, and continuing on all fours to chase me, quickly gaining ground.

Shit, shit, shit!

Clouds rolled in overhead, and the moon grew darker, mistier. I needed to lose him. How? His large nose indicated his overdeveloped scent glands, and the way his eyes glimmered in the dark, when I dared another look behind, told me he had no problem hunting in the shadows.

I was so dead.

Recognizing the buildings around me, I swerved sharply to my right and raced down several narrow alleyways. The confined spaces forced him to throttle his boosters. He was still way too damn agile for someone his size, but he couldn’t use his full speed in the alleys unless he wanted to run into a wall. The turns forced him to slow down just enough, and more and more I was starting to lose sight of him whenever I glanced back.

I let my own nose lead me to the large, festering trash pile set along a creek with questionable cleanliness. Trash was rarely collected this far out and, in this case, it would prove to be my savior. Granted, I enjoyed being clean, but survival called for disgusting measures, at times.

After a few more turns, I burst out in the opening and dashed to the trash. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and dove inside. Eewwww!I swam through the garbage and shut down my mind from speculating what it consisted of. After what felt like forever, I popped out the other end and sucked in a gigantic breath of the foulest air I’d ever tasted. That would kill his ability to track me, no matter how powerful his nose. Without stopping, I rolled forward and dropped to the ground. I didn’t look behind for Mastrodai before staggering toward the creek and jumping it. The water was swift and sure and carried me farther down the city.

I managed to lose him for now, but it wasn’t over, yet. Not even close.

The hunt was on.


Author Bio

M.D. Grimm has wanted to write stories since second grade (kind of young to make life decisions, but whatever) and nothing has changed since then (well, plenty of things actually, but not that!). Thankfully, she has indulgent parents who let her dream, but also made sure she understood she’d need a steady job to pay the bills (they never let her forget it!).

After graduating from the University of Oregon and majoring in English, (let’s be honest: useless degree, what else was she going to do with it?) she started on her writing career and couldn’t be happier.

Working by day and writing by night (or any spare time she can carve out), she enjoys embarking on romantic quests and daring adventures (living vicariously, you could say) and creating characters that always triumph against the villain, (or else what’s the point?) finding their soul mate in the process.

Author Website: https://www.mdgrimmwrites.com/

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001710645622

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&query=md+grimm

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