A MelanieM Release Day Review: An Island in the Stars by Susan Laine

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Sam, a geeky college freshman, has bigger problems than lusting after Marcus, sexy jock, college junior, and his big brother’s best friend. Chasing after a beanie caught in the winter wind turns into a tumble down the rabbit hole for them both—science fiction style.

Sam and Marcus find themselves trapped on a tropical island in the middle of a strange ocean on an alien moon. The sole structure is a ruined temple devoted to the art of love. Flustered, confused, and unable to return home, they need to figure out a means of escape from a hostile jungle teeming with dangerous life-forms.

In this tale where opposites attract and secret crushes are revealed, two very dissimilar young men discover they actually have a lot in common after all, but it will take their differences as much as their points of connection to survive on an island in the stars.

An Island in the Stars by Susan Laine is a story that has me going back and forth on this review.  Quick, two bit review?  Sweet science fiction romance. Boom done.  But you know I can’t leave it at that.  I love Susan Laine’s The Wheel Mysteries series, one of my favorites.  She has a great attention to detail and a wonderful imagination and both of those are employed here.  I absolutely was fascinated by the world building and application of science that Laine used here in her story.  On this island in the stars, she gives us a completely magical (and sometimes lethal) planet from the smallest and most endearing of animals to the largest and wildly unbelievable magnificent of creatures you would hope to see and everything in between.  It’s all here, described in vivid, sometimes gushing detail.  I could have spent hours here, without the two men/boys, exploring the landscape the author created.  It was at times more alluring, more captivating, than the rest of the plot and that was part of the problem here.

The men/boys in the middle.  I found Sam totally likable, 17, brilliant, shy and afraid of being out and gay, he’s been secretly crushing on his older brother’s jock friend for years.  The story is told from both MCs pov so we get the wonderfully pragmatic and logical perspective that comes from Sam.  Yes, he’s often afraid but he looks at things as calmly as he can (considering the wild situation they are in and the dumb things Marcus does) and tries to figure a way forward, all while being close to the guy he’s hugely attractive too.  Teenage hormones anyone?  Then there was Marcus.  He was far more problematic for me.  Like the proverbial bull in a china shop, Marcus blundered from one impulsive bad thing to another.  Yes, he had an explanation later for his behavior but still he was an idiot given the scary situation they were in and it took him until the end of the book to learn his lesson.  Plus he’s 20, old enough to at least have a better insight but no.  Honestly I spent most of the book irritated the heck by him and thinking Sam could do much better.  So there’s that.  His conversation is borderline silly and don’t get me started on his names for things considering his major.  Not a whole lot about him made sense as a character, the complete opposite of Sam in so many ways.

While they are trying to figure their way home, they are also in the middle of an abandoned sex palace/temple where the walls are covered with explicit 3-D images of sexual acts (ala several Greek and Indian temples here) but taken by the author to science fiction extremes.  Again, totally fascinating and described in incredible detail.  This takes up a huge amount of the story and I was expecting it to go somewhere, like it was going to jumpstart Sam’s libido (but hey he’s 17, doesn’t need that and they are in a scary situation so there’s that too).  Here the plotline starts to take a neat turn and then it’s abandoned like the temple/sex palace itself.  Unless the author intends to return there one day, we will never know what Laine intended here which is a shame.  It had possibilities but then again Sam is 17.

And that’s my final “thing” here.  Again and again, we are told that in Montana, Sam is considered “legal”, but Marcus is 20, so not really.  There’s a fine line here that the author walks sexually and continually makes her case “legally” over and over again, stating Montana laws as regards to age limits for sexual intercourse between consenting adults.  And all that does is highlight the idea that maybe it’s not really all the legal between Sam and Marcus if it has to be brought up constantly.  Even Sam himself tells Marcus at times, he’s not ready for “more”.  I felt this part of the story was rushed and well, awkward.  But perhaps that’s because I’m just not that fond of Marcus.  Who knows.

Anyhow, what got me here was the universe, the world building and I wanted to see more.  It’s amazing and deserving of 4 plus stars all on its own.  Sam too and his “MacGyver” ability to use science to see them safely home.  Love that boy!  Think it all sounds intriguing?  Pick up the story and let me know what you think….

Cover Artist: Anna Sikorska.  I love this cover and find it magical and perfect for the story.  Great job.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook
Expected publication: June 12th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781635336399

 

Free on Amazon for the Next 5 Days: Angel’s Feather by Alina Popescu

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Angel’s Feather (Flyer Chronicles #1) by Alina Popescu

About Angel’s Feather…

How far would you go for the one you love? How much of yourself would you sacrifice?

Trapped on a decaying Earth and cut off from the rest of the Universe, humans are no longer allowed to leave their planet. Break this one law and you die: a penalty enforced by flyers, aliens who look like angels of long-lost religions. Michael, the flyers’ leader, is the Punisher who carries out every public execution.

Adam, a young human with near-perfect memory, is committed to rebuilding Earth and a true believer in the flyers’ dominion. While Adam’s support for flyers isn’t a secret, his deep love for Michael is. Not even Michael knows, for his kind never take human lovers, and to Adam, they are too far above him to reach.

In his broken and unwelcoming world, Adam’s love can only lead to pain, loss, and disaster. Yet there is no force in the huge expanse of stars and galaxies that can stop Adam from following Michael to the end of existence. Not even Adam’s own beliefs.

Gay science fiction novella Angel’s Feather by Alina Popescu is #free for 5 days on all Amazon sites. Download your copy of the first book in the Flyer Chronicles series between June 9th and June 13th!

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06Y6BWX9V

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B06Y6BWX9V

Amazon DE: https://www.amazon.de/dp/B06Y6BWX9V

Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B06Y6BWX9V

#gay #romance #scifi #sciencefiction #freebooks #gaybooks #scifibooks

How far would you go for the one you love? How much of yourself would you sacrifice?

Trapped on a decaying Earth and cut off from the rest of the Universe, humans are no longer allowed to leave their planet. Break this one law and you die: a penalty enforced by flyers, aliens who look like angels of long-lost religions. Michael, the flyers’ leader, is the Punisher who carries out every public execution.

Adam, a young human with near-perfect memory, is committed to rebuilding Earth and a true believer in the flyers’ dominion. While Adam’s support for flyers isn’t a secret, his deep love for Michael is. Not even Michael knows, for his kind never take human lovers, and to Adam, they are too far above him to reach.

In his broken and unwelcoming world, Adam’s love can only lead to pain, loss, and disaster. Yet there is no force in the huge expanse of stars and galaxies that can stop Adam from following Michael to the end of existence. Not even Adam’s own beliefs.

Blog Tour for Unexpected Powers by Chris McHart (exclusive excerpt and giveaway)

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Unexpected Powers by Chris McHart Tour Banner

Synopsis

Unexpected, Book Four

Ash’s life hasn’t been the best so far. Mated to a man he hates, he resigns himself to his fate of being abused. When his mate kidnaps the highly pregnant Alex, they become friends, and to Ash’s surprise, Alex’s rescuer saves him as well. Now he can start a new life, but it’s going to be a lonely one, due to his visible and invisible scars.

D didn’t seek out a man, but one look at Ash and he’s head over heels in love. But Ash needs to work through his issues before he can see D’s love for him. Slowly, Ash learns to trust D, but with their growing feelings, other strange phenomena appear. What’s up with lights turning on without Ash touching the switch and doors opening on their own? Is something dangerous happening and threatening their blossoming love? Or is it something else altogether?

Excerpt III Unexpected Powers

“But you just met me. You risked everything to get me out.”

“Like I told you, I couldn’t let you suffer.” D smiled, even though it was weak.

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome. I’m glad you’re better.”

“Yeah, me too.”

“Okay, then I’ll leave you now. Here’s my cell phone number. If you need anything, let me know.” D handed Ash a card.

“Thank you.”

“It was nice talking to you. I hope to see you again.”

“Yeah, me too.”

D stood and left the room. Ash didn’t look good at all. He seemed to have broken now that he was in safety.

Before he left, D looked for Josh, who was in the kitchen, reading something on his computer. He looked up when D cleared his throat.

“Did he talk to you?”

“Yeah, he did. He’s not dealing well with all this, right?”

“I don’t know. He’s shutting me out. I don’t know why, but he refuses to talk about anything related to his mating, and he spends his days in his room sleeping, brooding, whatever. I don’t know. He barely eats; he barely talks. I’m not sure if I should leave him alone or drag him out, force him to see other people.”

“I don’t know either. I think he needs to go out once in a while before he goes crazy. Maybe I could come over once in a while and take him for a walk? Or simply have a coffee with you two, if that’s okay?”

“Oh, yes. I’d like that, and I think it would be good for Ash. Maybe he’d feel better with you by his side when he has to leave the apartment since you’ve already proven that you can protect him.”

“Maybe. I’ll call you and let you know, then we can set something up. I gave my number to Ash as well, but I somehow doubt he has any intention of connecting.”

Josh chuckled. “I think you’re right. We’ll just force him out of his hole once in a while, okay?”

Buy Links:

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0711P432H/
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0711P432H/
Amazon DE: https://www.amazon.de/dp/B0711P432H/
Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B0711P432H/

Unexpected Powers by Chris McHart

Unexpected Series

Alex’s Surprise

Alex wanted a night of hot passion with Gerome, but he gets more than he ever bargained for. His life will be changed forever in a world where he’ll be thrown in jail— or worse— for being pregnant.

Alex’s best friend, Sam, has been acting strange ever since he met Alex’s one-night stand, but now Alex needs help in order to hide, and Sam is his only hope.

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ZCYUT3C/
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00ZCYUT3C/
Amazon DE: https://www.amazon.de/dp/B00ZCYUT3C/

Saving Alex

Not only is Alex pregnant, something punishable by jail time, but Gerome, the father of the baby, is a vampire prince. When strangers invade Alex’s home and kidnap him, he doesn’t know who is responsible, if he’ll ever see the man he loves again, or even get to see the child growing inside him.

Considering himself the father of his lover’s child, Sam has a hard time standing around and letting others plan Alex’s rescue. But when the Prince and his trackers find an important clue, the race to save his beloved is on. Now all he can do is cross his fingers that the scheme they’ve devised will work.

When Prince Gerome receives ransom demands, the instructions are clear: mate a complete stranger or he’ll never see Alex or the child he carries again. Will he be able to convince his newly intended to help, or will those seeking to dethrone his family win this evil game of blackmail?

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ZI4GPRA/
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00ZI4GPRA/
Amazon DE: https://www.amazon.de/dp/B00ZI4GPRA/

Mate Me, Hate Me, Date Me, Love Me

When his father, King Harold, forces Prince Gerome to mate a complete stranger in order to save his unborn child, he complies with a heavy heart and says goodbye to all his dreams of finding love. Gerome’s hurt and treats his mate the way he’s been taught all his life: through power and submission. But with Luis, it doesn’t work.

When Luis is mated off to a stranger, his world ends. He was a carefree student one day and the next a vampire prince demands his submission. He can’t run, but he can hide and hate in silence. So he withdraws until only a shell remains.

Neither of the men has any chance of finding love together until a friend intervenes. Can Gerome forget what he’s been taught all his life, and is it possible for Luis to forget what’s happened to him? Will they ever find their own happy ending? And can love blossom where only hate exists?

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01DY0104M/
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01DY0104M/
Amazon DE: https://www.amazon.de/dp/B01DY0104M/

Giveaway

Prize: Signed paperback copy of Unexpected Powers

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Author Chris McHart

A bout the Author

Chris McHart lives in Germany, with her husband, slave, Dom, partner in crime, and muse (all in one person, not even she’s that kinky!). She loves her husband, men in kilts and Scotch Whisky. Her idea of a perfect evening is to curl up with her laptop and write (the other options are not suitable to post in public).

Visit her blog or friend her on Facebook, where you can join her author group.

Website: https://chrismchart.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100008256641886
Twitter: https://twitter.com/chris_mchart

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Slow Heat by Leta Blake

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Wowzer! The title says it all for this one, and in fact, the author does a darn good job of putting readers into a slow heat of their own. In a nutshell—it’s a whole new world with fantastic world building, very well-developed main and secondary characters, heartwarming and heartbreaking situations, scorching hot sex, and mega doses of sexual tension. Loved, loved, loved it!

First, the world building—picture a shifter book but without shifters. In this world there’s been a huge change and there are no females. There are only males and they fall into one of three categories: alpha, beta, or omega. The alphas are the top dog, so to speak. It’s their job to find an omega, contract with them, and have sex that will produce children. Yes, mpreg in this world—and in this book! The betas are not sexless, but they don’t reproduce. It appears that most lead fulfilling lives and can pair off into couples, but they don’t have the potential of finding their Erosgape – their true bonded soulmate and the completion of their existence—something only alphas and omegas can have.

Alphas and omegas are separated and attend higher education in different locations. After the basic information is shared, the young alphas and omegas meet at an arranged location. Those who are fortunate meet their Erosgape, those not so fortunate at least make a contracted match. No omegas are allowed on the alpha campus unless they are already mated or too old for a match. At least that’s supposed to be the case.

But when alpha Jason Sabel sees Professor Vale Aman, he’s overtaken by the sight and scent of his Erosgape and literally mauls him in public before he can be restrained. Vale is shocked as he’s already in his mid-thirties and thought to be past the point where he’d ever be claimed. He’s immediately put on sabbatical and confined to home while Jason’s father and pater start the process of investigating Vale prior to making a contract offer.

In this world, the alpha rules; so much so, that Vale really has no voice in leaving his home until the issue is resolved. The good news is that Jason’s family will provide for him financially, but the bad news is that his “baby alpha” is so young and inexperienced. Vale despairs that he will even understand his needs, never mind be able to satisfy Vale when he goes into his next brutally sexual heat. Only Jason’s knot will be able to help him through it, but Vale may not have a chance to even contract with him before it comes on.

Honestly, it’s difficult to be able to describe this story without explaining the world these men find themselves in. The story is very long and completely packed full of information, slow burn-UST, burn-up-the-page sexual situations, and tender, loving care—not just by the MCs but by the other couples in the story, including Jason’s own father and pater.

There is no way I’d consider giving this story anything less than 5 stars. It’s totally different from the norm, very well thought out, has extremely engaging characters, interesting life backgrounds and past experiences, and hot, sweet love. Readers will simply have to trust in the author, who always delivers a poignant story, IMHO, and other reviewers, all of whom seem to be highly impressed by this story. I won’t go on and on, though if I get you in a corner at a conference, I may babble until you can’t wait to escape! Don’t hesitate to buy this one. Now!

Important information from the blurb: This is a standalone gay romance novel, 118,000 words, with a strong happy ending, as well as a well-crafted, non-shifter omegaverse, with alphas, betas, omegas, male pregnancy, heat, and knotting. Content warning for pregnancy loss and aftermath.

~~~~~~

The cover is a beautiful photo representing the older and younger MCs. The cover artist is not listed, although the author credits the creativity of Annabeth Albert for giving her input.

Sales Link:  Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 436 pages
Published May 16th 2017 by Leta Blake Books
Edition LanguageEnglish

Bradley Lloyd on The Games of Shadow Fray and Shadow Fray (Shadow Fray: Round One) (author guest post, exclusive excerpt and giveaway)

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Shadow Fray (Shadow Fray #1) by Bradley Lloyd
DSP Publications
Cover Artist: Anna Sikorska

Available for Purchase at

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Bradley Lloyd here today, talking about his latest release Shadow Fray. Welcome, Bradley!

✒︎

Let’s Play! The Games of Shadow Fray

In reading Shadow Fray, one might think the plot was decidedly adult. Think The Hunger Games but with a healthy dose of Fight Club. While I’m a fan of both titles, the inspiration for Shadow Fray came from a place far more innocent–the games I played as a little kid.

My childhood wasn’t filled with fisticuffs or mixed martial arts lessons; instead, I took daily trips with my siblings and friends to the municipal swimming pool. We played the standard games like Marco Polo, and we took turns swimming under each other’s legs without touching, kind of like an underwater version of the limbo. The game I most remember, though, was one based entirely on imagination.

In this game, our familiar pool became infested with invisible, hungry underwater creatures. You’d be fine if you never touched the bottom, because that’s where they lived. We’d spend all day swimming around, trying not to touch the bottom. If you did touch the bottom, that’s when the little monsters would attack with their nasty bites. Too many bites, and you could die. BUT if you managed to apply the special ointment in time, you could stave off infection and death.

The special ointment was Coppertone sunscreen lotion. The year we invented that game, we never got sunburned, believe me. In fact, we probably went through at least a giant economy bottle a week.

My main goal in writing Shadow Fray was to write something fun–a steamy, action-packed romance. So when I thought about what was most fun, this pool game came to mind, probably at first subconsciously but it morphed into a very important plot point.

In Shadow Fray, the ground has been poison for many years. Unlike the pool game, you can touch the ground, but prolonged exposure results in what the characters refer to as Ground Sickness. Because of this, those with enough money live in high-rises as far from the ground as possible.

For this reason, Justin is forced to fight in the underground tournament known as Shadow Fray. He needs to keep his twin sister and younger brother living safely off the ground, and the only way to supplement their meager income is for him to win. The stakes are high, especially when he faces Hale, a brawler he has long admired. Though they fight for similar reasons, they find themselves at odds, first with each other, and then the greater forces at work in the crumbling world around them.

If you’ve read this far, chances are getting better that you might also read the book, so I’m going to reveal a spoiler-free special secret right here. You won’t find out in the first book what really caused the ground toxification. Do I know? Yes. Will you know eventually? Yes. There’s clues if you want to try to figure it out, and like a good sci-fi, it has a basis in fact. Not revealing everything right away was a tricky decision for me as a writer. Is it realistic that people, after a post-apocalyptic event, wouldn’t know the cause or the remedy? One of the plot points is the misinformation provided by the shady people remaining in power. So, I decided, yes, it could be realistic. Granted, this was all before the election and the influx of “alternative facts,” so I think this choice was the right one to make, even prescient, though it asks the reader to follow me along for a bit.

You see, I think as I got older, my mind went from imagining pool monsters to imagining more realistic monsters, and now I love a good mystery. My favorite childhood game led me to a more adult game of playing sleuth, or maybe hide-and-seek, where it’s the truth that’s hiding. Shadow Fray is all about games, and I sincerely hope you’ll come and play along with me. ~ Bradley Lloyd

Book Blurb

Family is worth fighting for—and family doesn’t always mean blood.

 

No one knows what calamity poisoned the earth and decimated the human population, but living close to the toxic ground means illness and death. Justin is determined to keep his twin sister and younger brother from that fate—no matter what he has to do. To earn enough to keep his family safe in a high-rise, Justin enlists in a deadly sport called Shadow Fray. He quickly finds himself in over his head, especially when he is scheduled to face the most dangerous player.

 

Hale—who competes as Black Jim—knows he won’t be on top forever, despite his skills. He fights for a better life for his daughter, but his time is running out as Shadow Fray becomes increasingly lethal. Something about the newest fighter intrigues him, but does he dare defy his masters to investigate? Justin and Hale will clash in the ring, while beyond it the powerful elite and the crumbling world seem determined to keep them apart. If they can find common ground, they might have a chance to fight for their futures.

Exclusive Excerpt

Since my guest blog post is about childhood games, I thought I would introduce you to one of my favorite characters, the 10-year-old Charlie, who is mute. He’s the much younger brother of our hero, Justin. Even though he doesn’t talk, Charlie is still very expressive, like in this school assignment. In the book, Justin secretly holds on to this letter as a reminder of his reason for fighting in Shadow Fray. It’s also a great introduction to the Shadow Fray world. Enjoy!

Handwriting Practice

The Person I Look Up to Most

To: Sister Tim

From: Charlie

Justin does his best even when it’s hard, even when he’s tired and maybe hurting a little bit. He always shows courage. That’s why he’s the person I look up to the most.

I think we all have secrets to keep. It’s nice to have a little bit of privacy, like from the drones, and my brother tries to give us that. But we never hide. He wants me to have a normal life, whatever that is. My brother keeps secrets, but not from me. And he helps me keep my secrets too. Sometimes we hide from the drones like Shutters, but mostly we pretend like it’s just us.

Justin always tries to do what’s best for my sister and me. He raised me when my sister was at work. He always did lots of stuff with me. He read me books until I could read on my own. I didn’t even need school for that, because he taught me. But our favorite thing to do is watch cartoons.

He tries to keep things from me, but not in a bad way. He puts his tablet down all the time, but I know he’s reading. It’s almost like he doesn’t want anyone to know he reads, not even me. I think he doesn’t want me to be too curious about things. It’s another way he tries to protect me. So we just do kid stuff. But that’s okay.

My brother is really strong. He works out and he lifts weights. He makes me come with him and read a book but I watch him too. I know he stays strong to protect me and my sister. My sister is fertile, and so he always feels like he has to protect her because she’s in danger or something. My sister can take care of herself, but he does it anyway. I like that about him.

Justin’s secret is that he’s really smart. Like, really smart. Someday, my brother is going to figure out what is wrong with the world. He will figure out why all the people got sick and died so long ago, and what happened to poison the ground. Then he’ll find out why there’s not as many girls anymore, and why people can’t have babies. Maybe he’ll even find the cure for ground sickness, but that’s probably asking too much. I mean, he can’t do everything.

Here’s a secret about him and me. He says there’s two kinds of people—people who stay alive and people who go poking their noses where they don’t belong. I don’t say it (ha ha), but I know he’s both, and I’m both too. So really, there’s three kinds of people. But don’t tell him I said that.

He wants me to go to college at Exxon or DuPont in Chicago. I like that idea. Because if my brother doesn’t find out what happened and how to fix it, I want to find out for him. He’d like to take me out of Bruise City to Chicago, but maybe someday I will do that for him instead. Anyway, I like it here, because this is my home, and this is where you are too. Thanks for being the best teacher.

He would be so mad if he knew I wrote this. But I know you keep secrets too. So please keep my secret. I know you will, because you’re the third person I most look up to, and you always tell me I can do anything.

My brother tells me that too.

From: Charlie

P.S. My sister is the second person and I also have a friend named Gristopher Mays and he’s the fourth person. He’s really nice but I haven’t known him as long as I’ve known you.

P.P.S. I think you are that special third kind of person too. Thanks for being the best teacher.

Since my guest blog post is about childhood games, I thought I would introduce you to one of my favorite characters, the 10-year-old Charlie, who is mute. He’s the much younger brother of our hero, Justin. Even though he doesn’t talk, Charlie is still very expressive, like in this school assignment. In the book, Justin secretly holds on to this letter as a reminder of his reason for fighting in Shadow Fray. It’s also a great introduction to the Shadow Fray world. Enjoy!

Giveaway

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About the Author

Bradley Lloyd is a Chicago-born author who studied Creative Writing at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He was raised in a conservative religious household but became aware of his sexuality at a very young age—about the same age he learned of his ancestry to Hans Christian Andersen. Inspired by this knowledge, writing became an outlet that helped him cope with inner conflicts and bullying.

Of course, he was no angel and occasionally used his storytelling powers for evil. He once convinced the neighborhood children that gnomes had been real before all being turned into lawn ornaments.

Later, these experiences lead him to work with middle-school students. Now a teacher in the inner city, he shares his love of writing with a captive audience of kids, who are thrilled with true(ish) tales of their haunted school building. 

Interestingly, his favorite UFC fighter and former world champion was a student at his school, and when Brad is not reading or writing, you might find him hosting the next UFC pay-per-view event party. His dreams of becoming an ultimate fighter are realized vicariously through his stories and video games.

Brad is happily married to a wonderful husband. Their tenth anniversary was also the day same-sex marriage became legal, and they were couple number seven at the courthouse.

You can read more of Brad’s (free) tales on his website BradleyLloyd.com, check him out on Medium, follow IMBradleyLloyd on Facebook and Twitter,

or e-mail him directly at IMBradleyLloyd@BradleyLloyd.com

Time for Remembrance – Memorial Weekend. This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Time for Remembrance – Memorial Weekend

With the sound of Roaring Thunder still echoing in my ears as they passed by on their way to the District,  it’s time to remember and honor those that have given their lives for their country and freedom, protecting those here and around the world.  Those fallen on the field of Flanders, Khe Sanh,  Gettysburg or Helmand Province, you will always be remembered.

Literature, whether novels or poetry,  is a powerful tool to keep memories alive, evoke the emotions, the pain, the hopes and fears, the bravery behind those that go off to war, no matter the year or war, controversy or no.  Siegfried Sassoon or Walt Whitman, John McCrae’s Field of Flanders (seen above) to all the anonymous poems and letters left at the Vietnam Veterans War Memorial in Washington, DC (gathered up daily by volunteers to be stored and/or displayed at the museum).  I’ve included one such poem here as well.  They touch at the heart, the mind, the soul.  They make us remember.    It’s Memorial Weekend.  Do you have a favorite poem you could share?

Remembrance Day Poems To Remember The Fallen | HuffPost UK

Posted on The Wall Site for Cpl Brent R Jones. 


The Stranger

One lovely summer day
As I was walking through the grass
Reflecting on the very fondest
Memories of my past

I past an unfamiliar place
And stopped a while to see
Completely unsuspecting
Of the change this place would bring

I stood before a wall of names
Two hundred and fifty-one
Engraved upon a monument
That pierced the shining sun

And though, to all these names
I was a stranger passing by
I looked upon these names
And there was one that caught my eye

It may have been a moment
Or an hour, or a year
I walked up to the name
And leaned in close so I could hear

I closed my eyes and listened
To the pure and priceless truth
And came to understand the love
Of which, this wall is proof

It’s said that he who bears
The very greatest love of all
Will sacrifice his life
Before He’ll see a dear friend fall

Though people often wonder
Whether such a man is real
I see him now
Through these engraven letters that I feel

He’s sitting with his brother
telling stories as they laugh
Of the greatest game’s he’ll ever pitch
Of the biggest fish he’ll catch

He’s standing by his colors
On a hillside far away
He’s diving through the amber fire
While others run away

I search through all my memories
Of the noble and the grand
The courage and the truth
That I’ve been taught to understand

Of all the stories that are told
This shall be told of you
Dear Soldier, How you gave your life
For those you never knew.

This poem was written by Callie Crofts, Firth High School class of 2004.
Sunday, March 27, 2005

This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, May 28:

  • Release Blitz for  Nell Iris’s Find His Way Home
  • This Week at Scattered Thoughts ad Rogue Words
  • Time for Remembrance – Memorial Weekend

Monday May 29

  • Release Day Blitz and Giveaway for Performance Review by Tamryn Eradani
  • DSP Publications GUEST POST Bradley Lloyd on Shadow Fray (Shadow Fray: Round One)
  • DSP GUEST POST Ari Mckay on Breaking Bonds 
  • A Caryn Review:  Concourse (Five Boroughs #5) by Santino Hassell
  • A MelanieM Review: Law of Love by Bob Masters
  • A VVivacious Review: Lion’s Mate (Hell’s Creek #1) by Shannon West & T.S. McKinney
  • An Alessandro Audiobook Review: Willow Man by John Inman and Austin Rising (Narrator)

Tuesday, May 30:

  • RIPTIDE TOUR &  Giveaway: Heels Over Head by Elyse Springer
  • DSP GUEST POST L.A. Merrill on Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch (States of Love)
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Slow Heat by Leta Blake
  • An Ali Review: Heels Over Head by Elyse Springer
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: Shadow Fray (Shadow Fray: Round One) by Bradley Lloyd
  • A Stella Review: Back to You by Chris Scully

Wednesday, May 31:

  • Release Day Blitz and Giveaway for Frank at Heart by Pat Henshaw
  • Retro Review Tour – Suki Fleet’s This Is Not A Love Story
  • DSP GUEST POST Z Allora On Writing, Books and Secured and Free
  • A Free Dreamer Review: This Is Not A Love Story by Suki Fleet
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review:Frank at Heart (Foothills Pride #6) by Pat Henshaw
  • An Alisa Release Day Review:  Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch (States of Love) by L.A. Merrill
  • An Alisa Review: Hybrid (A Darker Hollow #1) by Shannon West & T.S. McKinney

Thursday, June 1:

  • Release Blitz for  The Ties that Bind by S. Davidson
  • DSP GUEST POST : Tara Lain on Return of the Chauffeur’s Son
  • Blog Tour Permanent Jet Lag by A.N. Casey
  • A Lila Review: Whiskey Business (States of Love) by Avon Gale
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: The Mystery of Nevermore (Snow & Winter: Book One) by C.S. Poe
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review:  Breaking Bonds (The Walker Boys 2) by Ari McKay
  • An Alisa Review: Smitten by R.W. Clinger

Friday, June 2:

  • RIPTIDE TOUR and Giveaway: Fraud Twice Felt by JT Hall
  • Blog Tour: Return of the Chauffeur’s Son by Tara Lain
  • A Jeri Release Day Review: Return of the Chauffeur’s Son by Tara Lain
  • A MelanieM Review: Hawaiian Fragrance (The Hawaiians 3) by Meg Amor
  • An Ali Review : False Start (Wilmington Breakers #2) by Sloan Johnson
  • An Alisa Review: To Touch You (Mates #4) by Cardeno C.

Saturday, June 3:

  • Release Blitz His Master by Bink Cummings
  • A MelanieM Review: Seduced by the Tide by Sean Michael

A Julia Review: Addict (The Cassie Tam Files #1) by Matt Doyle

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

New Hopeland was built to be the centre of the technological age, but like everywhere else, it has its dark side. Assassins, drug dealers and crooked businessmen form a vital part of the city’s make-up, and sometimes, the police are in too deep themselves to be effective. But hey, there are always other options …

For P.I. Cassie Tam, business has been slow. So, when she’s hired to investigate the death of a local VR addict named Eddie Redwood, she thinks it’ll be easy money. All she has to do is prove to the deceased’s sister Lori that the local P.D. were right to call it an accidental overdose. The more she digs though, the more things don’t seem to sit right, and soon, Cassie finds herself knee deep in a murder investigation. But that’s just the start of her problems.

When the case forces Cassie to make contact with her drug dealing ex-girlfriend, Charlie Goldman, she’s left with a whole lot of long buried personal issues to deal with. Then there’s her client. Lori Redwood is a Tech Shifter, someone who uses a metal exoskeleton to roleplay as an animal. Cassie isn’t one to judge, but the Tech Shifting community has always left her a bit nervous. That wouldn’t be a problem if Lori wasn’t fast becoming the first person that she’s been genuinely attracted to since splitting with Charlie. Oh, and then there’s the small matter of the police wanting her to back off the case.

Easy money, huh? Yeah, right.

Addict by Matt Doyle is going to be the first volume in a series about P.I. Cassie Tam and the cases she will find herself confronted with. I was especially curious to see how the author would handle the mixing between Sci-Fi and Fantasy elements. As it turns out, I was not going to be disappointed.

The story takes place in a not-too-distant-future-version of our world where technology has advanced to play an even more prominent role in people’s everyday lives. I very much appreciated the approach the author has taken to introduce the reader to his world: by show, not tell. For the most part we simply get to witness how the characters interact with the technology that surrounds them. Here and there the protagonist Cassie Tam, from whose perspective the story is told, will offer an explanation as to how and why certain technological as well societal developments have taken place. The world-building is pretty solid and one can see that the author put a lot of thought into creating a sensible connection between the past (in other words our current time period) and the present in which the novel takes place. It was interesting to discover the numerous and imaginative ways humans have attempted to improve their lifestyles through various gadgets and applications – some with rather questionable success.

I took a liking to Cassie from the beginning because of her direct, nonchalant attitude and demeanour. She is not some kind of newbie but has already a number of successful cases under her belt at this point and it shows. Therefore, she has confidence in her abilities and methods to get things done while on the other hand, there is the occasional blast from the past Cassie is forced to deal with.

Lori (or Ink as she is known in her animal form) is a Tech Shifter who can take on the shape of a panther. I found it very interesting to learn about this more recently emerged group of individuals that have formed their own kind of subculture at this point. The author did a good job in giving the reader some insight into their historical development, technological workings and position within current society. Lori herself is a woman of strong character and conviction who nonetheless needs a way from time to time to escape the harsh and corrupt reality that simmers beneath the surface of New Hopeland. She finds this kind of comfort by changing into her animal form and I appreciated how honestly she admits as much.

The two women play well off each other and the ever so playful, slightly cynical way the two interact with one another was fun to witness as well as the gradual development of their relationship amidst the dangerous events unfolding around them. 

The crime story itself is well-paced and not lacking in suspenseful moments as well as peculiar and interesting individuals that Cassie has to deal with in one way or another. Sometimes I might have liked even a bit more details on characters, their looks and living conditions. All in all, this novel represented an enjoyable read and solid start for a new series and I am looking forward to reading about Cassie’s next case.

The cover art by Natasha Snow is not mind-blowing but it still looks nice and since this volume is intended to be the first in a series focusing on Cassie Tam, it seems appropriate to display her on the cover itself. Nevertheless, I would have very much enjoyed seeing a drawing of Ink or another Tech Shifter.

Sales Links

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

aBook Details:

ebook, 149 pages

Published May 8, 2017

by NineStar Press

ISBN: 978-1-947139-03-9

Edition Language: English

Readers & Writers for LGBT Chechens ~ Why We Need to Help Gay and Bi Men in Chechnya (Part II)

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In Chechnya, part of the Russian Federation, police are kidnapping gay men (and those they perceive to be gay) and taking them to camps for torture. Several state-sanctioned murders have also been reported.

Readers & Writers for LGBT Chechens is a group of people raising money for organizations working directly with gay men and other persecuted LGBT people in Chechnya and the northern Caucasus.  We do this through direct donations, donating royalties to these charitable organizations, and an online auction being held May 5–12.

Fantasy and romance author Kate Pavelle/Olivette Devaus has donated two sets of ebooks with audio for the auction, Lucky Starflowers by Olivette Devaux and Kaje Harper’s Hidden Wolves series.

Why We Need to Help Gay and Bi Men in Chechnya

by Kate Pavelle, aka Olivette Devaux

I was born in the communist Czechoslovakia, where homosexuality was against the law. I wanted to be a writer, but was told, “No, you can’t be a writer. You’d either be a tool of the State, or you’d end up in jail as a dissident.” Once our family defected from behind the Iron Curtain, bummed around Europe as homeless refugees, and landed here in America, I knew I could never be a writer. I’d never speak English well enough – and everybody knows that you can write only in your mother tongue. 

There are many things which “everybody knows.” Many turned out to be false. 

  • Same-sex relationships are legal in the Czech Republic now, and so is same-sex marriage
  • They have freedom of speech now
  • I did become a writer
  • Yes, I can write in English even though it’s the 4th language I came across those many years ago

People ask why I write gay romance. Partly, I love romance, because it’s a feel-good literature of hope, and it speaks to the commonalities that make us human, that bring us together. Likewise, I can’t stand the “woman gets rescued by a man” tropes present in M/F romance. They aren’t my life.  I have worked so hard on not needing a rescue by anyone, the attitude is ingrained in my stubborn bones. Being a refugee in my early teens had shown me that, ultimately, we are on our own. People may help us along the way, but in the end, we are responsible for our own destiny. Some have it easier than others, true, but the attitude of self-reliance that I have been trying to foster in myself all these years – decades – is incompatible with “rescue and love” tropes of straight genre romance. 

A same-sex relationship offers a theoretically level playing field. Two guys (or gals,) similar societal expectations, no worries about getting pregnant. This oversimplified model is where I’d started few years ago, and it has evolved into a better understanding of how people work. The itch was scratched, and just when we got the landmark SCOTUS decision, marriage equality, and I’d thought I could move on to writing crime suspense, the Pulse shooting happened. 

Ducking out of a genre that had given me a good start, and a ton of support, would’ve been ungrateful. People were suffering, so I stayed. 

One year and few books later, we have Chechnya, and Putin, and Trump, and… and I just can’t leave. As long as writing same-sex romance is a political statement against a hateful, bigoted, religiously motivated governmental policy, I’ll keep writing it. I’ll keep making by boys happy in fiction in order to inspire those who are still closeted, or lonely, or scared that they, too, can have their happy ending. They, too, will have to work hard for it, (because my characters seldom have it easy), but there is that special someone for them at the end of the rainbow. 

Now that real-life men in Chechnya are being rounded up in concentration camps on mere suspicion of being gay, now that they are being beaten and tortured and killed, now that their families are being summoned to kill them to “cleanse their family’s honor by blood,” I feel duty-bound to try and help. These are not fictional characters. They are real, they bleed red, they run scared. For those lucky ones who were able to escape, we can help finance rescue operations so that they can find a home somewhere else. 

They are refugees, just like I had once been. 

I’m just paying it forward. 

Please join me.

———–

Kate Pavelle‘s novel Swordfall made the USA TODAY’s “must-read romance of 2015” list. She writes suspense, romance, and fantasy. She started publishing LGBT titles under her Olivette Devaux pen name.


Get Involved

If you’re an author who would like to get involved, please sign up at Authors & Publishers for LGBT Chechens. There, you can also find answers to frequently asked questions about donating a percentage of royalties, educating readers, the charitable organizations that are helping out LGBT Chechens, and more.

If you are a reader who would like to learn more about the situation in Chechnya and how to help — including how to make a direct donation to a designated charity, buy a book from a participating author, or support the auction — please visit Readers & Writers for LGBT Chechens. You’ll find more information, as well as links and graphics you can add to your own blog, social media, or your website.

A MelanieM Recent Release Review: Sharp Shooter Tokyoite by Charlie Godwyne

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Rating: 2 stars out of 5

It’s 2035 and Kei is a half-Japanese, half-American asthmatic forced to relocate to Vancouver in order to breathe. Despite the difficulties that being in Japan entails, Kei goes back time and again to spend time with Taka, best friend and confidante, and help him hunt illegal pornographers. But no matter how badly Kei wishes they could be together permanently, life seems determined to keep them apart.

I was so looking forward to this story from reading the blurb.  It had so many things that intrigue me, a Japanese location with Japanese or half Japanese characters with unusual jobs, who exist in a dystopian world.  Unfortunately the execution just didn’t pan out.

For starters, the narrative comes out as muddied instead of clearly defined.  There is a weird intro about shooting a crow that really has nothing to do with the rest of the story, nothing about the world building is substantial other than the fact that there are  pornographers still  in existence (not a surprise) and that the air quality is bad, even worse if you have asthma.  How is this supposed to be a reach when it already exists now?  When there are people who need to wear masks in cities during yellow and red zone days? It happens around the world now from Arizona to China so to have this story located in 2035 makes little sense.

So already you have 2 marks against this story.  Then you get to the characters.  Kei and Taka, who have such a disjointed relationship that there is absolutely no chemistry between them and therefore no connection between them and the reader.  I really couldn’t figure out why they wanted to stay together.

The best part of this story?  The very last part which was cut short when the story ended.  That’s when the author should have picked up and run with it, that whole concept was great.  But no, that was the end of the story.  Oh well.

Cover artist:  Natasha Snow.  Neat cover, nice design.

Sales Link:   Less Than Three Press  | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 40 pages
Published April 26th 2017 by Less Than Three Press
ISBN139781620049860
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Jeri Release Day Review: Darkest Hour Before Dawn (THIRDS #9) by Charlie Cochet

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Book 9 of the THIRDS series takes us away from not only the usual main characters of Dex and Sloan, but also out of their team Destructive Delta. This installment involves Sebastian Hobbs- older brother of Hobbs- and Hudson, the medical examiner at THIRDS HQ.

Seb and Hudson had been a couple. Going so far as to have Seb mark Hudson. But when a child dies while out on a call, they blame themselves. Ignoring the pull of their union, they tip toe around each other for years. But Seb is tasked with watching out for Hudson because the unseen enemy has been keeping tabs on him.

Seb and Hudson have always been great supporting players in the THIRDS universe. Every fan I know wanted them to get their own book and work toward their happily ever after. This book really made the wait worth it.

We still see “our” guys, Dex, Sloan and the crew- but the focus really is on Seb and Hudson. Not only seeing them together, but seeing Hudson with the Hobbs family. Before the tragedy that tore them apart, Hudson was fully ingrained with the Felids.

And just when you think it is all sweet and happy and rainbows…….BAM! She does it again. I won’t say what. But I will say I texted another reviewer who had read it before me practically screaming my question at her. She laughed at me. Keep reading, she said. Like stopping was an option.

Seb is so, so, SO sweet. I just love him. And even though it was Hudson who kept them apart, you really understand why.

A lot happens in this book. There is more introduction to the new bad guys. Thank goodness for her glossary at the beginning!

And the ending. The ending is just perfect.

Cover Artist: L.C. Chase.  Cover works for the story and branding the series.

Sales Link

 DSP eBook | DSP Paperback | Amazon | iBooks | Kobo | Barnes & Noble

Book Details:

ebook, 224 pages
Expected publication: April 25th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
Original TitleDarkest Hour Before Dawn
ISBN 1635336090 (ISBN13: 9781635336092)
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series THIRDS #9