A MelanieM Review: Rook by T. Strange

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

 

For killing his husband, Rook is sent to B-226—an alien planet populated by deadly creatures, where the average life expectancy for a prisoner is three weeks. Rook is relieved by the sentence—all he wants is to die and rejoin his husband.

Upon arrival on B-226, Rook is partnered with Stevie, who has beaten the odds and survived for several months. Rook is drawn to Stevie in a way he didn’t expect in the aftermath of losing his husband. Before Rook can untangle the mess of his emotions, the already deadly situation on B-226 worsens, plunging Rook and Stevie into an even more desperate struggle to survive.

I’m really of two minds here when it comes to Rook by R. Strange, especially when rating the story, which I really liked.

It really falls into dividing my review and rating into two categories.  The  first being the characters and their relationship  which was excellent.  The second?  The world building and the creatures on planet B-226, none of which actually made any sense.  So lets get the problematic out of the way first and  end with what I loved about Rook.

If you are going to build an alien world, especially one with as important concept as a prison/mining planet whose environment is a death sentence, killing those within days of landfall, the majority lasting only 3 weeks.   With such a featured narrative aspect such as this one, then you need to make it and everything on it solid, well thought out, from the atmosphere, land masses, water features, flora, and yes, fauna.  If you are going to give us superstar killer fauna, explain why the environment produced them and supports them.  Have them make sense physically for the planet and in relation to each other. And once you do that, don’t contradict yourself.  As in, yes this creature only comes out in the rain, until oh look, the creature does come out when sunny because you need it to do so for narrative purposes.  And really, with regards to the dragons, which breathed fire, the latter made much more sense to begin with.  Why would fire breathing dragons (why dragons on this world to begin with) only come out when its raining?  Never got that one.  Plus there are cannibalistic flying kite/umbrella bats with three mouths, large reptiles I’m assuming that roll like wheels and much more.  It sounds more like a child’s book of wacky creatures than a well thought out naturali history for B-226.  Yes, Strange managed to make those bats scary but in the back of this naturalist’s mind was  much on that planet  just wasn’t supported from a animal standpoint or in the author’s worldbuilding. Why not just one mouth with serrated teeth?  Three is honestly overboard. Does it go to three stomachs?  And for what purpose?  From there my mind wanders to things like poisonous plants, (where are they, its an obvious rainforest…) because it can’t be just the fauna that’s trying to do you in.

Plus there was the whole thing about the humans smelling so bad that the animals attacked them but wouldn’t eat them.  Ok, surely that idea could have been explored more or exploited by scientists employed by the mining corporation or government or whoever.  Develop a scent, etc.  Also all the native animals showed the ability to adapt/outthink the invader/human technology to keep them out.  Yet there is no mention of sentient beings? Smh. Sigh.

And if my mind is trying to fill in the blanks and worrying over the huge holes in the  world building (this is the rarest, coveted,and important mineral in the galaxy and they haven’t done any planetary surveys, just sent in the miners?).  More questions than are answered.  Don’t give the reader reason for their mind to wander like that.  Supply a well reason, beautifully built universe to begin with and the reader’s mind will stay put where it belongs…on the story and the characters.

Well, enough of that.  You get my drift.

What I did like  was T. Strange’s character’s.  Rook and Stevie, a murderer and thief sentenced to die on B-226.  Again, the author didn’t do a great job with their backhistory.  It’s muddy for both men.  You never really get the full story   on what happened  in their pasts, just vague hints for Rook enough to piece it together and nothing really for Stevie for them to be sentenced to death.

What makes the story is the day by day building of their relationship, through the stress, fear, isolation, and anxiety of their situation.  They could die at any moment and often are fighting for their lives.  It’s those scenes and their dynamics that  the author does well and makes Rook work.  At least until the dragons show up again.  Then its back to questions all over again, one species in one location for the entire planet…etc.  Uh no. Again I’ll stop.

So I like the people, not the world.  Sounds about right.  For those that like scify fiction, I think  that Rook by T. Strange is a quick read you might want to check out.  I was given an unedited version so I hope the editor might suggest a few changes.  Check it out and let me know.

Cover by Aisha Akeju is colorful, wonderful and matches the story.

Buy Links:  Less Than Three Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook
Published February 7th 2018 by Less Than Three Press
ISBN139781684311804
Edition LanguageEnglish

Love Zombies? How About Cats and Romance? Combine all 3 with My Zombie Cat by T. Strange (Excerpt and Giveaway)

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My Zombie Cat 1000x400

Title:  My Zombie Cat

Author: T. Strange

Series Title and Number : The Undead Canadian Series, Book 2.5

Publisher:  Torquere Press

Cover Artist: Kristian Norris

Release Date:  July 13, 2016

Heat Level: 1

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 7000 words

Genre: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Horror, Gay Romance

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Synopsis

Edward Grey has hardly spent a night away from his cat, Boo, since before he was in preschool. Not even death could separate them, as Edward resurrected Boo as a zombie when he was five. Now, Boo has gone missing, and the cat isn’t in any of his usual haunts.

Excerpt

Kit was at work, and I was —miraculously—caught up on my coursework. I was full of restless energy after spending the previous day sitting on the couch watching TV with Kit, so I decided to give Boo a bath. He doesn’t groom himself very often, and when he does, he usually just makes his fur worse. He was definitely getting a little…ripe.

Unfortunately, Kit came home from work partway through the bath, and I don’t even want to imagine what he thought was happening when he walked in and heard Boo’s unearthly howls and me pleading with him—loudly, to be heard over him—to hold still so I could rinse him off and it would all be over.

I heard Kit shout for Winston, so he could be heard over Boo’s yowling, and then he burst into the master bathroom, holding a purring, contented bundle of blue-grey fur.

Boo and I were frozen in an epic tableau of wet, reeking cat and equally wet—and, probably, reeking—medical student.

Kit paused in the doorway, then started laughing. “Oh. God, I thought something was really wrong. You shouldn’t scare me like that.”

“You could help,” I grumbled, as Boo got his head free of my hand, which he proceeded to bite. Hard. And not let go of.

Kit looked at the…less than clear, decidedly murky…water and shook his head. “Ew. I don’t think so. Doesn’t that hurt?”

“Yes, of course it hurts! Being undead doesn’t turn his teeth into…candy corn!” With a sadly practiced motion, as Boo bites me on a regular basis, I wedged my free thumb into the corner of the cat’s mouth and pried his jaws apart. My hand was white where he’d bitten me, and then each depression slowly filled with blood.

“You’re not going to turn into a zombie, are you?” He’d gotten a little more relaxed about the ‘Z’ word, though last week he left his browser open to a site called the Zombie Rights Campaign. I wasn’t sure if it was a joke, or something he’d made himself. I try not to snoop on his computer.

I also hadn’t asked him about it. I wasn’t sure I wanted to know.

“Kit, if I turned into a zombie every time Boo bit me, I’d be…”

“It only takes one time, Edward.”

Purchase

Torquere Press

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Meet the Author

Strange didn’t want to learn how to read, but literacy prevailed and she hasn’t stopped reading—or writing—since. She’s been published with Torquere Press since 2013, and she writes M/M romance in multiple genres, including paranormal and BDSM. T.’s other interests include cross stitching, gardening, watching terrible horror movies, playing video games, and finding injured pigeons to rescue. Originally from White Rock, BC, she lives on the Canadian prairies, where she shares her home with her wife, cats, guinea pigs and other creatures of all shapes and sizes. She’s very easy to bribe with free food and drinks—especially wine.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tq.strange

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorTStrange

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TqStrange

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/tqstrange/

Blog: http://tqstrange.blogspot.ca/

Tumblr: http://tqstrange.tumblr.com/

Giveaway

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T. Strange is Back with More Zombies with My Zombie Fiance’ (excerpt and giveaway)

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My Zombie Fiance 1000x400

Author: T. Strange

Title:  My Zombie Fiancé

Series Title and Number: The Undead Canadian Series #2

Publisher:  Torquere Press

Cover Artist: Kris Norris

Release Date:  July 13th, 2016

Heat Level: 2

Pairing: Male/Male

Length:  63,000 words

Genre: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Horror, Gay Romance, Bisexual, Humor

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My Zombie Fiance Cover

Synopsis

Edward Grey is no stranger to the undead; since raising his cat as a zombie when he was a child, he and his mentor Mariel have explored and developed his power as a necromancer. Despite everything he’s learned, as a necromancer and a medical student, he’s never encountered a ghost.

While Mariel is unreachable in Haiti on mysterious business, a ghost wakes Edward in the middle of the night, claiming to be his grandfather. When the ghost offers to teach him about this different form of undeath, Edward has little choice but to trust the spirit.

After receiving a phone call from a young girl claiming her father is possessed, Edward and his Undead Canadian fiancé, Kit, must travel to an acreage in Kingston…Ontario.

The haunting proves far more complicated than Edward could ever have guessed, and he finds himself pitted against an ancient evil determined to engulf everyone on the farm.

Edward’s love and connection to Kit will be tested, and his necromancy stretched to his limits as he has to find—and destroy—a twisted spirit more powerful than anything he’s ever encountered.

Excerpt

Edward, answer the phone.” In our hurry to undress so we could ‘get Kit to sleep’, my phone had ended up on Kit’s side of the bed. He passed it to me, narrowly avoiding smacking me in the face with it. Miraculously, it was still ringing.

 

“’lo?” I managed.

“Is this Edward?”

It was a little girl’s voice, I thought. I didn’t know many little girls, so I made my best guess.

“Tia? It’s the middle of the night; I can’t come over to play right now. Isn’t it way past your bedtime? Go to bed. Bed is nice.” I closed my eyes, almost dropping the phone when my hand relaxed.

My neighbor two houses down has a very precocious four-year-old niece. She likes to play actual doctor with me—nothing creepy! I’ve taught her a few basic stitches for fixing her toys and dolls, though I suspect she may damage them on purpose so she can practice with me. Whoops. I also let her use my stethoscope and a few other safe, child-friendly pieces of medical equipment. I’ve heard her tell her aunt she wants to go to uncle Edward’s house, so I also suspect at least part of the reason she visits her aunt is to see me.

“Who’s Tia? This is Sarah. Mariel said that I should call you if it happened again. It happened again.” There was an expectant pause.

I don’t know anyone named Sarah, never mind a young girl. “Mariel told you to…? In case what happened again?”

“My daddy’s possessed,” she said, very calmly and matter-of-factly.

I felt goosebumps prickle along my arms at the word. I knew precisely as much about demonic possession as anyone who’d watched The Exorcist, and I had no idea what had, well…possessed…Mariel to refer this girl to me for help. “What exactly did Mariel say?”

The girl, Sarah, sighed deeply. She probably thought I was pretty slow, and at the moment I couldn’t blame her. “She said, call Edward, he’ll know what to do.” She sounded impatient, but not frightened. Maybe her father was possessed by something more benign than a demon.

Mariel had told her I could help, so I would do my best. Even though it was 3 AM and I knew nothing about possession. “What’s your daddy possessed by?” Not words I ever thought would come out of my mouth.

“Mister Jenkins.”

Mister Jenkins. That didn’t sound very frightening. “And what does Mister Jenkins do while he’s possessing your father?” Had she named the…spirit? It sounded like something a child might come up with.

“Not very much. He makes breakfast.” She lowered her voice. “Mister Jenkins is a better cook than daddy.”

Not much of a haunting, if movies were anything to go by. I envisioned a comedy, sort of like Three Men and a Baby, but with a ghost. Besides the one apparently caught on tape when they’d filmed that movie, come to think of it. “Does he…scare you?”

She laughed, high-pitched and genuine. “No, silly! I like Mister Jenkins, but Mariel says it’s bad for daddy if he stays too long.”

This was one of the strangest conversations I’d ever had, and I’ve lived with Kit for more than a year. And I’d dated Bone. It was even stranger than my recent conversation with my grandfather. “Where do you live, Sarah?” If there was a way to do an exorcism-by-telephone, I didn’t know it. Not that I knew any kind of exorcism, but hopefully I had enough time to find a solution before Mister Jenkins…burned toast or something. Maybe I could come up with something if I was physically present.

“Kingston.”

I had to go to Jamaica? If Mariel was in Haiti, she was much closer. I didn’t know why she didn’t just pop over and take care of Mister Jenkins.

Kit would love a tropical vacation—I wondered if his fair skin would tan or burn, or if his undeath made him immune? I wondered if he would be upset about it, one way or the other.

I was less than thrilled by the thought of the tropics. I don’t like heat, or the diseases that tend to accompany it.

“It’s in Ontario,” Sarah said, sounding very pleased with herself.

Oh. Kingston, Ontario. That was a relief, even if it was black fly season.

Great, now I’d have that song stuck in my head for days.

“Okay, I’ll be there as soon as I can. Can you tell me your address?” I would have to fly—driving would take several days, even if Kit and I switched and we drove continuously.

“No, but Mister Jenkins can.”

Her voice was replaced by a man’s, gentle and with a hint of a British accent. Part of his directions were, “Past Kingston Family Funworld”, which definitely sounded like a place to avoid. He apologized that he couldn’t meet me at the airport because he was bound to the house.

That was a good excuse. I wished I could use it.

My grandfather hadn’t been bound to a particular place, but he had reminded me over and over that he wasn’t a typical ghost. I wondered if most ghosts had a limited range, or if Mister Jenkins was unusual in that regard.

I told him I’d call when we landed, and he hung up.

I turned on my bedside lamp. “Kit, sweetie?” I poked him, gently.

“Mmm…”

“I have to go to Kingston.” It was a good thing I had a few weeks off from school. Hopefully I would get time to study during this trip. Study medicine, that is, not necromancy.

That got Kit’s attention. He gave a happy shriek and grabbed my hand. “Oh my God, no way! I’d love to go to Jamaica!”

“Kingston, Ontario.”

“Oh. Ew.”

“Why ew? Have you ever been there?”

“I don’t think so.”

“Then why—never mind. Do you still want to come with me?”

“Who calls you at three in the morning and tells you to go to Kingston, Ontario?”

“Sarah.”

He raised an eyebrow.

“I’m sorry! I’m still half asleep. This little girl, Sarah…Mariel told her to call me if her father got possessed again.”

“Mariel’s father? Is that why she left?”

“Sarah’s father.”

“Possessed again? Like, this is a regular occurrence?”

“Apparently. I have to book a flight.” I hunted beneath the bed for my laptop.

Kit had found his phone and was furiously typing on it. “Oooooh, Florence and the Machine is playing there! We can totally go!”

“Sure. Of course.” I found a flight that left early the next morning—in a few hours, really—and bought our tickets. “I don’t know if it’s worth going back to sleep; I’ll make us some coffee.” Not that coffee did much for Kit, except make him ill if he drank too much. Or, for some reason, if he used non-dairy creamer. It seemed to be some sort of…zombie kryptonite. I’d like to tell you I didn’t give some to Boo to see how he’d react, but I would be lying. The results: not pretty.

“What about the cats?”

Of course, the cats couldn’t come with us. While Winston could happily stay at the pet spa while we were gone, Boo could…not, and if we had someone taking care of one cat, it made sense for Winston to just stay at home. I felt a pang at the thought of being away from Boo for any length of time. “My parents can take care of them.” They wouldn’t be pleased—they’d actually thrown a “Boo is out of the house” party when I’d moved out, but they’d also get to spend time with Winston, and that was always a treat.

“I guess I’ll start packing. For both of us.”

He was welcome to do so.

In the meantime, it was definitely time to call Mariel. I wasn’t sure what time it was in Haiti, but I could definitely use her advice. For several panicked minutes I was worried that I’d lost the piece of paper she’d written the number on, when I remembered that she’d put it directly into my phone. I let it ring, over and over, but no one answered so I eventually gave up. Well, if Sarah had been able to get ahold of Mariel, she wouldn’t have needed to call me. Though she probably didn’t have Mariel’s number in Haiti…I’d just have to deal with the situation on my own for now, and call Mariel again when I had the chance.

Purchase

Torquere Press

My Zombie Fiance Square
Meet the Author

Strange didn’t want to learn how to read, but literacy prevailed and she hasn’t stopped reading—or writing—since. She’s been published with Torquere Press since 2013, and she writes M/M romance in multiple genres, including paranormal and BDSM. T.’s other interests include cross stitching, gardening, watching terrible horror movies, playing video games, and finding injured pigeons to rescue. Originally from White Rock, BC, she lives on the Canadian prairies, where she shares her home with her wife, cats, guinea pigs and other creatures of all shapes and sizes. She’s very easy to bribe with free food and drinks—especially wine.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tq.strange

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorTStrange

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TqStrange

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/tqstrange/

Blog: http://tqstrange.blogspot.ca/

Tumblr: http://tqstrange.tumblr.com/

Giveaway

Rafflecopter Prize: One winner will be selected to win an eBook copy of My Zombie Fiance.

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Want Some Zombie Love? Spotlight on My Zombie Boyfriend by T. Strange (excerpt and contest)

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My Zombie Boyfriend by T. Strange

Goodreads Link
Release Date: April 15, 2015

STRW In The Spotlight Header

New author T. Strange is here with her first book, My Zombie Boyfriend.  Check out the blurb and excerpt below and don’t forget to enter the contest at the end!

STRW Author BookSynopsis

 

About My Zombie Boyfriend

Edward Grey is a medical student by day, necromancer by night. He lives alone with the first zombie he ever raised, his childhood cat, Boo. Edward’s life is simple: studying medicine, training his necromantic powers with his mentor, Mariel, and having weekly dinners with his parents. When he finds a very attractive corpse in a park and brings it home to reanimate, he accidentally creates a sassy, free-willed zombie who believes Edward is the one who murdered him.

With no memory of his former life, Edward names the zombie Kit and tries to win his trust. Kit slowly adjusts to his new un-life with Edward’s help, though he’s still suspicious of Edward’s role in his death and is convinced that Edward is hiding his former identity. Edward is very attracted to Kit, but understands why Kit doesn’t trust him. As they become closer to one another, Kit turns to Edward for comfort and love. The fragile trust they’ve built together will be tested when Kit unexpectedly regains his memory and seeks revenge on his murderers.

RC

Pages or Words: 64,000 words

Categories: Humor, Romance, Horror, Contemporary, M/M Romance, Urban Fantasy, New Adult, Fiction, Gay Fiction, Paranormal

STRW Spotlight Book Excerpt

Kit took one look at the concoction and raised his eyebrows in disbelief and disgust. “What is that supposed to be?”

“It’s your food. Mmm! Delicious, brains! Zombies love brains!” I could see right away that I had gone too far.

“I am not a dog or a child, Edward. And I don’t appreciate your stereotyping.”

Oh, great. I had offended a zombie. What a schmuck. “I’m sorry, Kit. Won’t you at least try it?”

“Is that a slice of brain?”

“…yes. Technically. It’s not human!”

“Oh, it’s a brain, but it’s not human. That makes it all better. What’s in the rest of it?”

“The rest of the cow?” No, this was not going at all well. I pleaded. I cajoled. I begged.

He poured it down the sink.

Publisher: Torquere Press
Cover Artist: B. S. Clay

Sales Links:  Torquere Press

STRW Author Bio and Contacts

About Author T. Strange

My Zombie Boyfriend is T. Strange’s first full-length novel, though she has published several shorter works with Torquere Press. When not writing, T. enjoys gardening, spending time with her horse, and, of course, reading. T. lives in Canada with her wife, surrounded by pets.

Where to find the author:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tq.strange
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorTStrange
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TqStrange
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/tqstrange/
Goodreads Author Page
Tumblr: http://tqstrange.tumblr.com/
Torquere Author Page

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Tour Dates & Stops: April 10, 2015

Parker Williams, Bayou Book Junkie, Tara Lain, Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents, Molly Lolly,

Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Love Bytes, Charley Descoteaux, Decadent Delights, Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews, BFD Book Blog, Cate Ashwood, Divine Magazine, MM Good Book Reviews, TTC Books and More, Andrew Q. Gordon, Rainbow Gold Reviews, Wake Up Your Wild Side, 3 Chicks After Dark

 

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Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: E-copy of ‘My Zombie Boyfriend’ by T. Strange. Must be 18 years of age or older to enter. Rafflecopter link and prizes provided by the author and Pride Promotions.

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