A Free Dreamer Review: Song of Song by L.J. LaBarthe

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Song of SongIt is the year 2275, and though some consider Earth a paradise, for most people on the planet or her outer-world colonies, it’s anything but.

Dex is a Boxie—a genetically engineered human created for the sole purpose of caring for wealthy bio-humans. His best and only friend is an AI cat named Manx, a secret Dex keeps from all around him. While he knows little about his sexuality, he’s attracted to Song.

Song designs ships that traverse deep space and has created the first fully sentient vessel called Fa’a. When he hears of a plot to capture Fa’a for nefarious purposes, Song flees Earth with a small band of misfits. Meanwhile, Dex’s fear of losing Manx drives him to take the cat and escape on a transport.

Song and Dex are brought together by chance. Just as their relationship blossoms from cautious and shy to romantic and erotic, new dangers threaten to destroy not only their love but also Fa’a, their friends, Manx, and all they care about.

I seem to have a thing for space operas lately, even though I usually prefer my sci fi to be set on Earth, without aliens… Anyway, I couldn’t resist the promise of an AI cat. I love cats and the idea of AIs fascinates me.

Sadly, “Song of Song” wasn’t quite as awesome as other books of the genre I’ve read recently. The idea behind the plot was good, but it lost me somewhere along the way.

There were a few things that didn’t make any sense to me. I’m almost tempted to call them plot holes. The leaders of large countries sign a treaty without reading the small print first? That seems horribly unrealistic to me. Another thing that bothered me was the fact that Boxies weren’t allowed to have relationships of any sort (romantic or not) with other people and yet they’re allowed to go to brothels. That seemed rather odd to me.

The idea of a fully sentient spaceship was interesting, but I’m not sure I quite understood how that was supposed to work. My technical understanding is rather lacking, though, so it might just have been me.

And honestly, I would probably find the thought of being inside a fully sentient rather creepy. Fa’a is depicted as omniscient to whatever is going on inside of her. I would probably be too embarrassed to ever undress. So I had a hard time relating to the MCs’ awe of her.

The romance part happened way too fast for my personal liking. Dex was essentially already in love with Song before he even met him. And for Song it was insta-love, even though he had other things to worry about when they first met.

The same goes for the sex. Dex felt like a very innocent character to me. And yet they stumble into bed asap and have amazing, mind blowing sex.

Manx was probably the best part of the story for me. I love pets with a real personality in my stories and an AI cat is the epitome of that. I want an AI cat too. Just so you know.

The troubles were resolved way too easily for my liking. Everything just fell into place easily and what seemed like insurmountable issues before, suddenly turned out to be a simple formality.

Overall, “Song of Song” was just an okay read for me. The concept was promising but the story itself fell a little short. Not a must read, but nice enough.

Cover: The cover by Anne Cain shows Song and Dex. In my mind’s eye, Dex looked a lot younger than he does on the cover. Other than that, I like it. Manx looks really cute.

Sales Links:   Dreamspinner Press |  Amazon

Book details:

ebook, 270 pages
Published January 18th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1623807174 (ISBN13: 9781623807177)
Edition LanguageEnglish

In the Spotlight: Book, Line, and Sinker by L.J. LaBarthe

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Book, Line, and Sinker by L.J. LaBarthe
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Art by Reese Dante

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press eBook and Paperback

Blurb

After seventeen years serving in the Australian Army, Ash returns to his childhood home in the outback town of Quorn. Filled with the desire to live a happy life in peace and with loved ones, Ash is grimly determined to beat his PTSD and tackle his flashbacks.

What Ash isn’t prepared for is Jaxon, the new librarian in Quorn. Jaxon is calm, gentle, kind, and a rock for Ash’s battered psyche. Ash finds himself falling for the handsome newcomer, even as his mind and memories of the past torment him.

When he has the idea for a mobile library to bring books and entertainment to remote communities in the far north, Ash is delighted that Jaxon is with him every step of the way. But though the library, called Book, Line, and Sinker, takes off, Ash’s past continues to plague him. Can Jaxon’s love be enough to keep them together until Ash is strong enough to stand on his own?

Excerpt

“I’ll have a look.” Ash dropped down into a squat and leaned forward to read the spines of the books on the bottom shelves. There were several rows of children’s books, and he started pulling titles out, making a neat stack beside him. Before long, he had gathered quite a collection, and he stood up, grunting as his knees protested

from being in one position for so long.

“Not a bad haul,” Jaxon said, looking at the stack. “Need some help carrying it over to the register?”

“Yeah, thanks. Did you find anything?”

“A few things. I took my armload over to the counter already.”

“That was quick.” Ash grinned.

“Just call me Book Man, swifter than… something really swift.”

Ash laughed. “Righto, Book Man. Want to give me a hand here?”

Jaxon bent down to grab half the stack and stood, huffing out a breath. “They’re heavier than they look.”

“I know.” Ash grabbed the rest of the pile and stood.

“Where’s Evie?”

“Looking at toys. She thought a toy library would be a good thing to have as well, not just books and games.”

“She’s a bloody genius.” Ash followed Jaxon as he went to the counter, where a large cardboard box sat. An elderly woman was carefully packing it with paperbacks and a few hard covers, and Ash and Jaxon set their armloads of books down beside it.

“That’s a lot of books, boys,” the lady said with a warm smile on her face.

“Reading is awesome,” Jaxon said.

“I found some toys and games as well,” Evie said as she joined them. “No DVDs, though.”

“Sorry, love, a gentleman cleaned out our DVD stock last week,” the lady said.

“Oh well. Can’t win ’em all, right?” Evie grinned up at her brother and Ash grinned back. “Shall I go get the car? This lot’s going to be really heavy.”

“That’s a great idea.” Ash pulled the keys out of the pocket of his jeans and handed them to her. “Here. Go for it.”

“What about…?”

“I’ll pay for it. It’s all good.” Ash made a little shooing motion with his hands. Evie rolled her eyes at him.

“I’m going.”

About the Author

L.J. LaBarthe is a French-Australian woman, who was born during the Witching Hour, just after midnight. From this auspicious beginning, she went on to write a prize-winning short story about Humpty Dumpty wearing an Aussie hat complete with corks dangling from it when she was six years old. From there, she wrote for her high school yearbook, her university newspaper, and, from her early teens to her twenties, produced a fanzine about the local punk rock music scene. She loves music of all kinds and was once a classical pianist; she loves languages and speaks French and English and a teeny-tiny smattering of Mandarin Chinese, which she hopes to relearn properly very soon. She enjoys TV, film, travel, cooking, eating out, abandoned places, urbex, history, and researching.

L.J. loves to read complicated plots and hopes to do complex plot lines justice in her own writing. She writes paranormal, historical, urban fantasy, and contemporary Australian stories, usually m/m romance and featuring m/m erotica. She has won a Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention and another award for Best Historical Gay Novel.

L.J. lives in the city of Adelaide, and is owned by her cat.

You can find her at the following places:

In the Spotlight: Waiting for the Moon and You by L.J. LaBarthe (excerpt and giveaway)

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Waiting for the Moon and You by L.J. LaBarthe
Release Date: April 27, 2015

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Goodreads Link
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Reese Dante

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Sales Links: Amazon—eBook  ♦ Amazon –Paperback  ♦ DSP—eBook ♦ DSP–Paperback

STRW Author BookSynopsis

All his life, Leith has loved Aaron, and all his life, Leith has wondered if Aaron returns his feelings. Through high school, college, and beyond, Leith and Aaron are drawn together and pulled apart. Leith is finally convinced he and Aaron are not meant to be when a cowardly act of violence against Leith changes everything.

Aaron returns to Leith’s side, but Leith struggles to accept that Aaron can love him now.

If Leith doesn’t overcome his doubts and fears, he will forever be waiting for the moon and Aaron… and true love.

Pages or Words: 240 pages

Categories: Contemporary, Fiction, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance

STRW Spotlight Book Excerpt

“I miss those high school days, where the most pressing thing we had to worry about was whether we’d get a passing grade on a paper. I’m so pissed at myself that I missed the births of my niece and nephew. God, those kids are so adorable. And I missed the births of Aisha and Shahid’s twins! I’ve seen the photos on Facebook: they are such beautiful little girls. I’m real glad I’m home for her second pregnancy. I don’t want to be separate from my friends again. Or my family. God.” He shook his head. “I really am getting old.”

“Nostalgic isn’t old,” I said.

“Guess not. Anyway, what I most regret is something I’ve thought about off and on for years. Back in high school, since the prom, I kept thinking about one thing. I have to tell you this. I’ve had a crush on you forever. Since that night. I thought, why did I go to the prom with what’s-her-name, when I really wanted to go with you? And I know why, and it’s dumb, but I was scared that everyone would give me shit for being gay. Which I know I am now, not bi. I thought I was bi, but life and experience have taught me to be honest with myself, and I am completely gay. And I’m rambling. Shit. But. That was it. I’ve had a crush on you since high school, and I’m kicking myself for never doing anything about it.”

I had no idea what to say to him. His words filled me in ways I’d never imagined, and I had none of my own to respond with.

“Leith?”

“Wow,” I said.

“That a good wow or a bad wow?”

“It’s a wow wow. Just give me a minute.”

“Okay. But I want you to know that even though there’s this… thing I feel, I want us to be friends. We were friends first, and that’s the most important thing to me. Can we be friends still?” The question was asked in a plaintive tone.

I stopped walking, and turned to look at him. My knee gave a twinge, and I ignored it. Then was certainly not the time for a flare, I sternly told myself. No pain tonight!

“Aaron, I am completely floored. I have no idea what to tell you. Just one thing, of course we’re friends. Like you said, we were friends first, and that’s too damn important to me to throw away. The rest… god.” I ran a hand through my hair.

“Yeah, I didn’t think you’d like me back,” Aaron said.

“What?”

“It’s been too long, I know. Too much water under the bridge. So—”

“Shut up.” I reached for him before I knew what I was doing. I cupped his face between my hands, leaned in, and kissed him.
For a moment, a single heartbeat that felt as if it lasted forever, there was no reaction. And then Aaron leaned into me, his mouth opening to mine, his arms sliding around my waist, and he kissed me back. We stood together on the street, kissing each other as if our lives depended on it, as if the only way to survive was to draw oxygen from each other’s lungs. It felt so good, so natural, and so perfect that the only thing that went through my mind was Finally!

STRW Author Bio and Contacts

L.J. LaBarthe is a French-Australian woman, who was born during the Witching Hour, just after midnight. From this auspicious beginning, she went on to write a prize-winning short story about Humpty Dumpty wearing an Aussie hat complete with corks dangling from it when she was six years old. From there, she wrote for her high school yearbook, her university newspaper, and, from her early teens to her twenties, produced a fanzine about the local punk rock music scene. She loves music of all kinds and was once a classical pianist; she loves languages and speaks French and English and a teeny-tiny smattering of Mandarin Chinese, which she hopes to relearn properly very soon. She enjoys TV, film, travel, cooking, eating out, abandoned places, urbex, history, and researching.

L.J. loves to read complicated plots and hopes to do complex plot lines justice in her own writing. She writes paranormal, historical, urban fantasy, and contemporary Australian stories, usually m/m romance and featuring m/m erotica. She has won a Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention and another award for Best Historical Gay Novel.

L.J. lives in the city of Adelaide, and is owned by her cat.

Where to find the author:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lj.labarthe.9
Twitter: @brbsiberia
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/dreadpiratestar/
Other: http://www.misslj_author.livejournal.com/
Other: http://www.ljlabarthe.com/
Other: https://instagram.com/ljstar239/
Other: http://dreadpiratestarkiller.tumblr.com/

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Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: E-copy of ‘Waiting for the Moon and You’ by L.J. LaBarthe. Must be 18 years of age or older to enter. Link and prizes provided by the author and Pride Promotions.

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Tour Dates & Stops: June 24, 2015
Parker Williams, BFD Book Blog, Bike Book Reviews, Bayou Book Junkie, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents, Kimi-Chan, Rainbow Gold Reviews, Dawn’s Reading Nook, MM Good Book Reviews, Chris McHart, Inked Rainbow Reads, Full Moon Dreaming, Mikky’s World of Books, Hearts on Fire, Wake Up Your Wild Side, Molly Lolly, Cate Ashwood, Because Two Men Are Better Than One, 3 Chicks After Dark, Happily Ever Chapter, Vampires, Werewolves, and Fairies, Oh My, Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews, The Hat Party