An Ali Review: Returning to the Land of the Morning Calm​ by ​Hans M Hirschi ​

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Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Martin is eighty-four years old, a Korean War veteran, living quietly in a retirement home in upstate New York. His days are ruled by the routine of the staff, but in his thoughts and dreams, Martin often returns to the Seoul of his youth, and the lost true love of his life. Two close friends urge him to travel back to search for his love. What awaits Martin in Korea, more than six decades after he left the country on a troop transport back to the U.S.?

Returning to the Land of the Morning Calm is a story of friendship, love and family, in all its many shapes, across time, generations and cultures.

I work with the elderly and spend a lot of time listening to them as they do life review so I was really excited about this book.  I thought it had the potential to be an amazing book.  Unfortunately the execution did not work for me.
The story goes back and forth between the past and the present and that aspect was fine.  My major complaint was how detailed and drawn out everything was.  The majority of the book is about what Martin is doing at the assisted living he lives at, how he meets his friends, the conversations they have, what they eat and their meals, what they drink at their meals, what they say to the waitress at those meals.  On and on the minor details went.  I was quickly bored and found myself skimming entire sections.  I did not care what they ate or what they did for Christmas.
 What I wanted was more time with Martin and the man he loved.  I wanted to see them fall in love in the past sections and I wanted to see them reunited in the present sections.  I didn’t get any of that.  We barely see the couple in past and what scenes we do see are filled with uninteresting detail.  There’s not emotions, no feelings.  In the present we get a ton of detail on how Martin makes the friends he travels to Korea with but we get zero time with him and Ji-Hoon once again.
Unfortunately this did not work for me at all.  While the technicality of the writing was fine, the content was dry and overly detailed in my opinion.
Cover:  The cover was done by Natasha Snow and I think she did a good job on it.  It’s a lovely cover.
Book Details:
 Kindle Edition, 200 pages
Published May 21st 2018 by Beaten Track Publishing
ASINB07C8FFR4D

​Hans M Hirschi on his new release Returning to the Land of the Morning Calm by ​Hans M Hirschi (author guest post)

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Returning to the Land of the Morning Calm by ​Hans M Hirschi
Releasing date: May 21, 2018
Pages: Approx. 200, 67K words
More info: http://www.hirschi.se/the-books/morning-calm/ (buy-links, trailer)

Hans M Hirschi writes a new novel and bridges cultural divides between East and West.

Returning to the Land of the Morning Calm is the eleventh novel by author Hans M Hirschi. In it, he explores the life of an 84-year-old African-American Korean War veteran who is reminded by new friends of a man he once loved back in Seoul. As he thinks more and more about that first love, he begins to contemplate his life and suddenly wonders if he’s still alive. From there, the thought of actually traveling to Seoul to find out isn’t far… We asked the author a few questions:

Hans, you live in Sweden yet write in English, about an African-American war veteran in upstate New York…

HMH: Is there a question? LOL Guilty as charged. I can’t really say why Martin is a black man, I can only hope to have done him justice. As for the Korean connection, I think the increasing tensions along the Korean border last year somehow pushed a button in my subconscious. I have been to Korea in the past, on business and on vacation, and developed a special connection. It’s a beautiful country, an impressive culture, and the people are very kind and welcoming. It was interesting and helpful to go back to Korea just before the Olympics and follow recent geopolitical developments on the peninsula firsthand.

Martin is an old man, an octogenarian. Not something you read about very often in books. Yet this is the fourth time you’ve written about mature men. Are you obsessed with age?

HMH: Touché!?! I might just be interested in ageing, yes. I’m one of those
“mature” (odd word, but oh well) men myself. I’ll be fifty-one this summer, and all around me, the generation above me is thinning out. My grandparents are long gone, my husband and I have lost half of our parents, and the ones left are ageing rapidly and are affected by various ailments. So yes, ageing is on my mind a lot. Obsessed? I hope not.

On the other hand, as you say, there aren’t that many great characters who are older out there, and I think Martin’s story is both beautiful and inspiring. I think stories like his deserve to be told.

Returning to the Land of the Morning Calm tackles many different life aspects: culture clashes, racism, coming out, religious intolerance etc. Are you afraid you may have taken on too much?

HMH: I don’t think so. First of all, none of the topics you mention permeate the entire novel, but given that the story covers several decades, it’s inevitable for some topics to come up. Quite the contrary, I’d say it would be unrealistic to write about the gay world of the 1980s without mentioning the impact of HIV or to write about a black man in the U.S. without addressing racism and how it impacts the lives of the African-American communities. I think that the story simply reflects life, in all its glory as well as its darkness.

As for Korea, I think that most of us who do not live there or haven’t visited Korea know very little about it. I try to infuse a bit of knowledge about this beautiful country and show the reader a bit of its intricate culture. Once a teacher, always a teacher.

How did you do research for this book?

HMH: Most of my research, if not all, begins online, using the great resources available to us, from Wikipedia to niched blogs about trams in Seoul or sites dedicated to the Korean War. I use a lot of maps, images online, and I’ve been known to head to a library for books. Unfortunately, when it comes to non-fiction, libraries often carry old and sometimes obsolete books on certain topics. Ultimately, just as I had to last year for Last Winter’s Snow, I felt obliged to travel, and do research on-site. I visited many museums, looking for photographs of the war era, what the city looked like, but also how people lived back then, trying to get a sense of daily life in Seoul. I spent many hours poring over documents, talking to Koreans about life back then and now. I also had people read through the manuscript at various stages to make sure the story is a fair and realistic representation of the Korean people and their culture. While fiction, I find it important to reflect things accurately. I also spent a lot of time just walking through Seoul, taking in this metropolis, one of the biggest cities in the world, walking two marathons in four days. Interestingly, my days in Korea deeply impacted the story, not just the descriptions, but the plot and characters. For the better, I hope.

You call yourself a “feel-good writer.” Care to elaborate?

HMH: I have been looking for a genre to call mine ever since I began writing. My first published novel about a coming-out relationship was quickly adopted by romance readers. I never liked that label, simply because I never intended to nor actually did write romance. But in gay fiction, it’s impossible to avoid the romance genre, since it’s the dominant genre with over 90% of all published books belonging to that category. Most male writers of gay fiction who do not write romance struggle to be seen or to be

recognized for what they’re trying to achieve. Either because their stories are misunderstood, with readers only focusing on the romance aspect of the story, or dismissed because they don’t meet the expectations of what a real romance novel should be like.

That is true for my writing as well. I’m no romance writer. I explore relationships, not romances. I like to write stories that end well. Enough misery in the news. I like uplifting stories, but on the other hand, I try not to shy away from the darker aspects of contemporary (gay) life. Just because we can get married and start families legally (in some societies) doesn’t mean the struggle for true equality is over. It doesn’t mean that even those few of us fortunate enough to live openly and freely don’t have challenges to face. And for the vast majority of us, and the Korean example is indicative of that, marriage and openly lived relationships are still far from being a reality for most gay men.

To write feel-good, which is a widely used genre term in Sweden, despite the English term, simply means that you explore life but keep an optimistic outlook. You believe in the good of humanity and that things will get better. No light without darkness, and to see the light, you need to show people the shadows it casts. I may go darker than some, but my books always end on a positive, hopeful note. It’s why they call me the Queen of Unconventional Happy Endings. This is how I interpret feel-good, and I think it suits me well.

You mention Korea and the situation for the LGBT community in that country. Your book ends in a very particular way. Let’s not spoil it for your readers, but is there a reason why it ends the way it does?

HMH: Yes, and I don’t think I could’ve ended it differently and still remain true to Korea, which was important to me. I rewrote it at least three times and – unusual for being me – I wrote the ending early. It takes the current sociopolitical climate in South Korea into account, the developments in recent years, which are positive baby steps for the LGBT community, which include Pride parades etc. On the other hand, I also try to be mindful of the generational aspects, the fact that it is still a very conservative society, with a strong aspect of honor, particularly with regards to family. That’s about as much as I can say without spoiling anything…

One final question: your covers. They’re always so artful, so beautiful. Is there a message to them?

HMH: Thank you. I’ll make sure to pass your compliment on to my cover designer, Natasha Snow. I certainly like to think that we put a lot of thought into my covers, Natasha, my publisher and meI. Cover design is tricky. You want a cover that stands out among dozens of other thumbnails on Amazon, you want to make sure it’s not too

cluttered for the same reason, as most people first see a thumbnail, not the full-sized cover.

On top of that, I would like my covers to carry or convey at least aspects of the story. When I look at the final cover of pretty much all of my books, there are always details that will remind me of a particular scene. And that is my wish for my readers, to go back to the cover once they are finished with the book, and look at it again. This time, they’ll see that both the sunlight and, the scene in the foreground as well as the mountain in the background are significant with regards to some key scenes. I very much like this cover myself.

Synopsis:
“Martin is eighty-four years old, a Korean War veteran, living quietly in a retirement home in upstate New York. His days are ruled by the routine of the staff. In his thoughts and dreams, Martin often returns to the Seoul of his youth, and the lost true love of his life.
Two close friends urge him to travel back to search for that love. What awaits Martin in Korea, more than six decades after he left the country on a troop transport back to the U.S.?
Returning to the Land of the Morning Calm is a story of friendship, love, and family, in all its many shapes, across time, generations and cultures.”
Series: N/A, stand-alone
Genre(s): Contemporary fiction, LGBT, Feel-good
About the Author

I’m an author. I write books. I write about things that are important to me: family, parenting, children, our environment, our world. Contemporary, fresh fiction with unconventional, hopeful or happy endings. It’s what I like to read myself. I write because I don’t have a choice. There are so many stories in my head, constantly forming, constantly trying to get out. Feel free to have a look on the other pages to learn more, listen to me narrate from those stories, and – if you like what you see or hear – you can follow the links to buy them on e.g. Amazon.

I’m an author. But I’m also a fifty-year-old father who clings to the illusion of still being twenty-seven (my pen age!), despite my body’s daily wake-up reminders to the contrary. I’m married to the most amazing man, Alex, and together we have a beautiful four-year-old son, Sascha. I consider myself a citizen of the world, having lived on two continents and traveled extensively (a hobby) through another three. I have friends all over the world. When I’m not writing, I like to do public speaking or training (where I have my professional background). Oh, right, I do have a Facebook profile, too. Say hi. If it is of interest to you, have a look at my LinkedIn profile or our company’s website.

Thanks for dropping in, enjoy your stay and welcome back!

Hans M Hirschi

PS: You’re more than welcome to contact me. I don’t bite and I try to be nice to people.

An Ali Review: ​​​​Oskar Blows a Gasket​ by Al Stewart​

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 Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Oskar Braithwaite is bold, brash and gorgeous. Just ask him.

Armed with designer backpack full of make-up and retro music galore, Oskar sets off for college. And, with attitude even spikier than his heels, nothing is going to hold him back. Except maybe one thing…his past is shouting louder than the 80s songs he adores and it won’t be ignored. Behind the effervescence are secrets, lies and sadness. Try as he might, not even Oskar can hide forever, and one day it isn’t only pop icon Simon Le Bon who’s going to catch up.

Who is writing letters? And why is a spy secretly following?

Enter Bear, with dancing eyes and secrets of his own. Bear’s kindness sparkles brighter than Lycra leggings, and everyone knows Oskar loves shiny things. Like every prophecy, their fates seem inevitably linked. As the walls of Oskar’s defence crumble, Bear shows his hidden strength, but will it be enough to save them?

Find out in this far-out, zany tale of fame, first love and retro DJs.

This story  is about two very different young men who meet on a train. Oskar is brash and attention seeking.  Bear is quiet and wants people to like him.
Oskar is a handful and Bear is not really sure how to deal with him at first. It seems that Oskar has everything under control until Bear comes across an incident that makes him realize Oskar is trying to hide major parts of himself.  Over the course of the story the two young men get to know each other and know each other’s secrets.
This story is part coming of age, part love story and all unique.  I always enjoy this author duo’s work and this story was no exception.  It was entertaining from beginning to end. You never know what you’re going to get when you try one of their books and I love that so much.
I thought this was an excellent read and I highly recommend it.
 
Cover:  I think the cover is alright.  I don’t dislike it but it doesn’t stand out to me either.
Book Details:
ebook
Expected publication: March 30th 2018 by Beaten Track Publishing
ISBN139781786452023
Edition LanguageEnglish

An Ali Review: Closer by F.E. Feeley Jr.

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Maplewood, Vermont is a picturesque town filled with unique shops, unique homes, and a quaint familiarity all centered around a lake with an unusual history.

Legends, old as well as Urban, float around like the mist that hovers above the lake at break of dawn.

But they’re just stories, right?

Hayden Moore’s life was destroyed when his husband, Malcolm, was murdered. Giving up his job as an assistant district attorney in Boston, Hayden moved to the little burg of Maplewood to recover.

A new life.

A fresh start.

However, something underneath the water is stirring. Something rotten. A deadly secret wakes underneath the black waters of Lake Veronica so disturbing it haunts the nightmares of the local residents.

It’s coming closer…
 
I recently toured The Stanley hotel (from Stephen King’s the Shining) and it was so creepy and filled with awesome ghost stories.  So I came home just itching to read spooky, scary tales and I’m happy to say this one fit the bill.  I was just a few pages into it before I was pondering whether I should be reading with the lights off or not.
Hayden is looking for a fresh start after the death of his husband.  He’s hoping for a quiet and peaceful life.  Unfortunately for him the idyllic town is far from peaceful.  Hayden meets Tommy and the two of them, as well as a small band of characters, begin trying to figure what is going on in their town and around the lake.
It’s a bit hard to talk about this book without spoilers.  This is a paranormal mystery and I think it could be considered a horror story as well.  It also focuses on the characters relationships with each other, both as friendships and as romances.
The author has a unique writing style and it fits well with the overall plot.  I’ve read other books by this author and this one seemed to be written a bit differently.  Maybe that was due to how the point of view was handled.  (or it could be because I’m remembering wrong).
I really enjoyed this and I thought it was super unique.  I’m always looking for stuff that’s different and I thought this fit the bill well.  It was a story I would definitely recommend.
Cover:  I absolutely love the cover.  I think it does a fantastic job setting the mood and overall feel for this book.
Book Details:
ebook, 380 pages
Published March 1st 2018 by Beaten Track Publishing
ISBN139781786451873
Edition LanguageEnglish

Release Blitz for CLOSER by F.E. Feeley Jr. (excerpt and giveaway)

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RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title: Closer

Author:  F.E. Feeley Jr

Publisher:  Beaten Track Publishing

Cover Artist: Emma Bonath

Genre/s:  Gay Fiction, Horror, Urban Fantasy

Length:  118,000 words/346 pages

Release Date: March 1st, 2018

Blurb

Maplewood, Vermont is a picturesque town filled with unique shops, unique homes, and a quaint familiarity all centered around a lake with an unusual history.

Legends, old as well as Urban, float around like the mist that hovers above the lake at break of dawn.

But they’re just stories, right?

Hayden Moore’s life was destroyed when his husband, Malcolm, was murdered. Giving up his job as an assistant district attorney in Boston, Hayden moved to the little burg of Maplewood to recover.

A new life.

A fresh start.

However, something underneath the water is stirring. Something rotten. A deadly secret wakes underneath the black waters of Lake Veronica so disturbing it haunts the nightmares of the local residents.

It’s coming closer…

Buy Links

Amazon US   

Amazon UK

Goodreads 


Excerpt

She had fallen asleep at the side of his bed, her head resting on the back of her chair, and her feet propped up on an ottoman. She awoke to the sound of water running. Audrey let her eyes open slowly, her fatigue surprising her a little. Her son was still asleep in the bed and she checked her watch, it said six thirty. The little bedside lamp was still on and she watched as her son’s chest rise and fall in medicine induced slumber. The water running in the bathroom stirred her and forced her to get up; she noticed steam coming in from under the bathroom door.

Sleep vanished from her mind as she crept slowly to the bathroom door, the hair on the back of her neck and on her arms stood straight up. The door was slightly ajar, and she heard movement inside the bathroom, she stopped. Looking around the bedroom she found her son’s baseball bat in the corner along with a mitt and baseball. Tanner, a friend of Jake’s and a few other guys were on an after-work baseball team, The Hornets. She picked up the bat and held it tight in her hands, she was going to walk straight into the bathroom and beat to death whoever was in the house. She used the bat to push the door open; the mirror over the sink was fogged up with steam. Her heart thudded in her ears as she rounded the corner towards the shower; someone was standing behind the shower curtain, the silhouette of a man. With an unsteady hand she reached for the curtain and jerked it back, raising the bat high above her head. The man, having heard the curtain slide jerked around, soap in his face and screamed, sliding backwards.

“Jesus Christ Audrey!” her ex-husband bellowed, trying to catch his balance.

“Daniel!” she cried out, slumping backwards and settling her behind down on the toilet, breathing hard. She looked up from where she sat, at her naked husband who had lost the extra twenty-five or so pounds that he had gained during their marriage. He was rubbing the soap out of his eyes and rinsing his face cursing and carrying out. She started to laugh and laughed so hard she almost fell off the toilet. She clutched at her midsection as tears rolled down her face.

Daniel stopped cursing and given the awkwardness of the situation chuckled himself.

“If you wanted to see me naked Audrey, all you had to do is ask,” he said, sliding the curtain back closed.

“Oh… Oh, Daniel. You wouldn’t believe the day I’ve had. I thought you were a ghost,” she said. He pulled the curtain back and looked at her strangely. His handsome face lit up in a quizzical way, a few more lines around his eyes than she remembered. His grey hair plastered to his head, but his eyes were as blue as she remembered. She felt a tug deep inside her heart for the slightest second, remembering what could have been, what should have been.

“A ghost huh?” Daniel asked, grabbing for the towel.

“Yeah. Never mind. When did you get here?” she asked as he stepped out of the shower. He had been working out, his shoulders broader and his chest tighter. She kept her back to him as he towel dried off.

“About thirty minutes. The front door was unlocked and Jake and you both were sound asleep. I tried calling on the phone, but you didn’t answer. I was worried something had happened,” he said.

“Yeah. I gave him a Xanax, so he could sleep. You should have seen him Daniel, he was so sick and besides himself. I was afraid he was going to die from grief,” she explained, handing him his underwear and t-shirt from the sink, her back still turned to him.

“Did the police say anything else?” he asked as he slipped into his underwear. He talked to his ex-wife’s back, frowning. She looked great; she always had, if it hadn’t been for that last miscarriage they wouldn’t be apart like this. He wasn’t surprised that she came in at him with a bat; she loved and protected her Jake with fierceness. He wouldn’t ever accuse her of being a bad mother.

“You can turn around now,” he said as he buckled his blue jeans.

She did just that, looking up at him.

“Daniel, you should have seen him,” she said, putting her head in her hands.

“That bad huh?” he asked buttoning a short sleeve golf shirt that his friends bought for him.

“Yeah. I didn’t know he was having an affair with…that woman. I knew he was staying out late, and I knew that he was seen out, but, with her?” She exhaled sharply. Jessica had a bad reputation in town for being a heart-breaker, and then she married the single wealthiest man, a lead accountant for a computer firm, she was labeled a gold digger. Now she was dead, and the law was looking at her son.

“We will take care of this. How about you? How you feeling?” he asked, concern in his voice. She had dark circles under her eyes, and her face looked strained.

“I’m hanging in there. Daniel, how bad can this get?” she asked.

“That depends really. I mean, if he didn’t do it, he didn’t do it. We just must make sure that we can account for where he was and when he left. You said they were at a motel? Good. That means he had to check out at some point,” he said, the gears in his head turning.

“Daniel, there has been some other stuff happening in this area. This makes the third drowning in the past week,” she said, standing up. “He’ll be glad to see you.”

He walked over to her and wrapped his arms around her shoulders and she leaned into him letting him hold her. He let her go and stepped out of the bathroom, taking the baseball bat with him as he went. His son’s light was on above his bed and Daniel stopped dead in his tracks. Standing two feet away from the sleeping boy was a scantily clad woman. She was wearing nothing more than a t-shirt and a pair of panties, but something was wrong, her color was all wrong. Her bare legs were almost blue they were so pale.

“HEY! Get away from him!” he screamed, raising the bat up. The woman spun around, one of her eyeballs had exploded and hung limp on her face, her matted wet hair stuck to her head. Behind him he heard his ex-wife scream.

Daniels muscles bunched up and he leapt forward, bringing the bat up, his instincts taking control. The woman screamed, a gargled disjointed sound, and when the bat hit her square in the head, she exploded. Water sprayed him, soaking the front of his shirt, and their sleeping son, who woke with a start.

“What the fu…Dad?” The bleary eyed and confused son watched in astonishment as he wiped the water off his face. Audrey rounded the side of Daniel and reached for Jake to get up. Daniel turned his head to the open door and saw wet footprints. His body shook, his breathing was labored, and his curiosity piqued. While he left his son and Audrey waiting in the bedroom he followed the trail to its source.

About the Author

Author Bio: F.E.Feeley Jr is a poet and the author of six published works – four full length novels, two short stories featured in anthologies, and a good deal of poetry.

Married to the love of his life, John, he came to the writing world about four years ago where he fell in love, again, with the written word.

Social Media Links  

Blog/Website

Facebook 

Twitter

Giveaway

Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway for a chance to win one of FIVE  books from F.E. Feeley Jr.’s backlist.

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RELEASE BLITZ SCHEDULE

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A Melanie Release Day Review: Building Forever (The Rebuilding Year #2.5) by Kaje Harper

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Four years ago, Ryan and John decided they’d wait to get married until it came with full legal equality. Now, thanks to the Supreme Court, that historic moment has finally arrived. But two hundred miles separate Ryan’s hectic residency from John’s busy campus job. With a son in college, a daughter choosing her future, and a rambunctious Irish Setter needing attention, planning a wedding isn’t simple.

Of course, even the most perfect ceremony can’t solve all their problems. What does it take to build forever?

If you like me, fell in love with Ryan and John from The Rebuilding Years, then this is the story you’ve been waiting for.  Be prepared to laugh until your stomach hurts, cry more than a little, hold your breath through some white knuckle maneuvers and delays until we get to the culmination of their love story….their long awaited marriage.

It all happens in the heartwarming, joyous Building Forever (The Rebuilding Year #2.5) by Kaje Harper.  Much like John and Ryan, their inability to get legally married has left their readers frustrated as well as themselves.   So here we see the SCOTUS ruling having it’s effect all over again with the result that Ryan and John now finally get to get married.

Oh, if it was only that easy!

They are now living apart, divided by Ryan’s residency and John’s job.  Mark is in college and Rory is making her own plans, only their Irish Setter is still at home causing problems.  Getting everything into place for a wedding turns into an almost insurmountable feat, with obstacles piling up by the minute.  But (with Harper’s deft comedic touch and easily flowing plot) the narrative’s lively pace makes you howl and cry as the men scramble forward with love towards the one goal they’ve wanted…rings and HEA.

Harper brings in many of the secondary characters for the wedding, Tory and Mark their children, even the Irish Setter and of course the college as a setting.  All the elements are right, the dialog is perfect, and I just loved the ceremony.  Really, I couldn’t have asked for more.  For this couple or for us as readers.  It’s simply everything I wanted and didn’t know to ask for.

No, this is not a stand alone story.  Read all the others, starting with The Rebuilding Years and end here with Building Forever.  Better yet, read all three at once!  I highly recommend them all.

Cover by Karrie Jax.  I love the cover. It works for both men and setting.

Sales Links:

Book Details:

ebook, 80 pages
Expected publication: October 15th 2017
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series The Rebuilding Year #2.5

 

Anniversary Blog Tour for Caught Inside (A Boys on the Brink Novel) by Jamie Deacon (giveaway)

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CaughtInside_TourBanner

Title: Caught Inside

Series: A Boys on the Brink Novel

Author: Jamie Deacon

Publisher: Beaten Track Publishing

Cover Artist: Natasha Snow

Release Date: September 29, 2016

Romance Genre(s): Contemporary, Young Adult, LGBT

Words: 83,000

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Jamie Deacon here today talking about their Top 5 Guilty Pleasure and their latest release Caught Inside.  Welcome, Jamie.

 

My Top 5 Guilty Pleasures

First, I’d like to say a massive thank you to Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for inviting me here today to kick off the anniversary blog tour for my debut release, Caught Inside.

As anyone who has read this book will know, guilt and pleasure go hand-in-hand . My heroes, seventeen-year-old Luke, and Theo who is two years older, know what they’re doing is wrong, seeing each other in secret. Luke has a girlfriend, Zara, who also happens to be Theo’s cousin. Their relationship, when discovered, has the power to hurt people and destroy friendships. But they’re young and in love, and the attraction they feel for one another is too strong. They simply can’t help themselves.

Since guilty pleasure plays such an important role in the story, I thought I’d reveal a few of my own. I’d love to hear yours as well, so feel free to share!

  1. Lazy mornings. I’ve always been rather too fond of my bed. There’s something so comforting about snuggling up under the covers last thing at night, mug of hot chocolate in hand and the radio playing softly in the background. My favourite times, however, are those precious mornings—increasingly rare these days—when I have nothing urgent to do and there’s no rush to get up. I’ll prop myself up on a mountain of pillows, drink endless cups of tea, and lose myself in whatever book I happen to be reading at the time. Bliss!
  2. Jilly Cooper novels. This love affair began in my teens and has continued, undiminished, into my mid-thirties. I’ve read her Rutshire Chronicles more times than I can count. In fact, it was these books that inspired Brookshire, the fictional county in my Boys on the Brink series. There’s just something about her larger than life characters and their interweaving stories that keeps me coming back again and again. Would it be fair to call these novels trashy? Absolutely! Yet, if there were an award for the best researched, wittiest, most compulsive trash, Jilly Cooper would win hands down.
  3. Desserts. Well, everyone loves a good dessert, right? Me? I’m a glutton for anything sweet, so much so that it’s become a family joke. When I was putting this list together, I tried to choose just one dessert that sends my salivary glands into overdrive more than any other, but it proved impossible. Apple crumble, raspberry pavlova, treacle sponge, vanilla cheesecake, sticky toffee pudding, lemon torte… I adore them all, and if it happens to come with a generous dollop of extra thick double cream, so much the better!
  4. Roleplaying games. OK, I admit it. I’m a total geek. I’m just amazed it’s taken me all these years to figure this out, but as soon as I discovered those choice-driven games, the interactive narratives where you get to pick your character and choose how the story unfolds, it was official. Now there’s no going back. At the moment, I can’t get enough of Life of a Wizard.. You can become anything from an arch mage ushering in a golden age for the country, to an undead necromancer taking over the world. It’s completely addictive!
  5. Late-night chats. Even after being together for eighteen months, it feels as though my boyfriend and I will never run out of things to say to each other. Currently, we’re separated by a two hour train journey, and so during the time we’re apart, we live for our nightly phone calls. Of course, once we start talking, we can’t stop, the sharing of news about our day and planning for our future carrying us into the early hours. We both know we should hang up and go to sleep, that we have to get up in the morning, but still somehow end up staying on the line far too long.

View on Goodreads

About the Book

Blurb

CaughtInside

Luke believes he has his life figured out…and then he meets Theo.

It should have been simple—a summer spent with his girlfriend Zara at her family’s holiday cottage in Cornwall. Seventeen-year-old Luke Savage jumps at the chance, envisioning endless hours of sunbathing on the private beach and riding the waves on his beloved surfboard. He isn’t interested in love. Though his rugged good looks and lazy charm mean he can have his pick of girls, he has no intention of falling for anyone.

Nothing prepares Luke for his reaction to Theo, the sensitive Oxford undergraduate who is Zara’s cousin and closest friend. All at once, he is plunged along a path of desire and discovery that has him questioning everything he thought he knew about himself. No one, especially Zara, must find out; what he and Theo have is too new, too fragile. But as the deceit spirals beyond their control, people are bound to get hurt, Luke most of all.

Caught Inside was named a finalist in the 29th Annual Lambda Literary Awards for Best Gay Romance, the 5th Annual Bisexual Book Awards for Best Young Adult Novel, and the 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Awards for Best LGBT Fiction.

Buy Links

Amazon UK | Amazon US | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

About Jamie Deacon

Author Bio

RainbowBooks

Jamie lives in a tranquil spot close to the River Thames in Berkshire, England, and has always been just a little out of place—the only redhead in a family of brunettes; an introvert far more at ease with dogs than with people; a connoisseur of simple pleasures in a society intent on the quest for wealth and fame. Despite an outward cynicism, Jamie is a romantic at heart, and, when not immersed in a book, can mostly be found writing emotional stories where young men from all walks of life are thrust headlong into the breathless, euphoric, often painful whirlwind called love.

Connect with Jamie

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Giveaway

To celebrate the first anniversary of the release of Caught Inside, Jamie is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card to one lucky winner. For your chance to win, simply enter via the Rafflecopter below. The contest closes at midnight EST on October 13, 2017, and is open to entrants worldwide.

Good luck!

Enter here.

Tour Stops

September 25
Guest Post at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

September 26
Author Interview with A.M. Leibowitz

September 27
Exclusive Excerpt at Shh, I Am Reading

September 28
Exclusive Excerpt at Outrageous Heroes of Romance

September 29
Author Interview with Drops of Ink

September 30
Guest Post at Stories that Make You Smile

October 1
Exclusive Excerpt at Abibliophobia Anonymous

October 2
Character Interview with Liz’s Reading Life

October 3
Exclusive Excerpt at Loves Great Reads

October 4
Character Interview with My Fiction Nook

October 5
Exclusive Excerpt at The Bookworm Lodge

October 6
Exclusive Excerpt at Books, Dreams, Life

October 7
Author Interview with Love Bytes Reviews

October 8
Guest Post at Boys on the Brink

Tour Hosted by LoveBound Promotions

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Book Blitz for Knight of Sherwood (Outlaw’s Legacy #2) by N.B. Dixon (excerpt and giveaway)

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KnightOfSherwood_BlitzBanner

Title: Knight of Sherwood

Series: Outlaw’s Legacy, Book 2

Author: N.B. Dixon

Publisher: Beaten Track Publishing

Cover Artist: Natasha Snow

Release Date: September 14, 2017

Romance Genre(s): Historical, LGBT

Words: 145,000

View on Goodreads

About the Book

Blurb

KnightOfSherwood

Robin returns to England after four years fighting in the holy land. On arriving at Locksley, he discovers that Guy of Gisborne, his most hated enemy, has been made Sheriff of Nottingham. Forced to flee into Sherwood, Robin sets himself up as champion of the poor.

But Robin has a secret. His feelings for his friend Will Scathelock have deepened, but to acknowledge the truth would mean facing up to his past. Meanwhile Lady Marian Fitzwalter, heiress to the vast Huntingdon estate is determined to claim Robin for her own.

Excerpt

The assassin made his way through the British army camp as if he belonged there. The once-pristine white cloth of his Crusaders surcoat was a dirty greyish brown, courtesy of the desert. The red cross emblazoned on the chest identified him as one of them—a Christian doing God’s sacred work in ridding the Holy Land of the infidel. It was all so easy. They were complacent, these English.

He had over fifty successful kills to his credit. He relished the hunt, the closing in on his unsuspecting prey. The harder the challenge, the more he liked it. Man or woman, young or old, Christian or Saracen, it made no difference to him.

His employer had promised him a considerable sum for the despatching of his enemy, a nobleman by the name of Robin of Locksley. With such a fee, he might be able to retire. He had begun wondering if it was time to settle down. Of course, the thrill of the chase would call to him again. However, he could be more selective about the commissions he undertook.

Though night had fallen, the camp was still bustling. A few sentries challenged him, but he produced his token: a piece of parchment bearing the royal seal. He was a humble messenger on an errand. They were fools. It wouldn’t occur to them that he could be other than what he seemed.

At length, he came to a large tent, the flaps of which had been pulled back in an effort to let in the sultry night air, revealing several soldiers engaged in an energetic game of dice. The assassin paused in the tent entrance, his head bent, the picture of a humble servant; it took several minutes before anyone noticed him.

“Who are you after?” a bearded soldier demanded during a brief lull in the game.

The assassin bowed. “I have an urgent message for Robin of Locksley. I was told to deliver it into his own hands.” Reaching inside his tunic, he withdrew several rolls of parchment. Sorting through them, he produced one bearing the Locksley seal and held it up for examination, but the soldier barely glanced at it. Few in King Richard’s army could read, and this soldier’s mind was more on the game than the conversation.

“His tent’s over that way.” The soldier gestured. “Wolf’s head insignia. Can’t miss it.”

The assassin nodded his thanks and hurried away in the direction the soldier had indicated.

In the distance, a jackal cried, the melancholy sound a testimony to the sorrow that had seeped into the ravaged land. This region was torn apart by war. There had been tremendous losses on both sides. At least Locksley’s death would be merciful; the assassin did not believe in prolonging the suffering of his victims. Why give them time to get off a cry and perhaps summon help? He struck as swift and silent as a snake. Often his victims never even knew what happened.

The assassin spotted the tent he was looking for. It was set apart from the others, with no elaborate decoration, no guards seated outside. He’d been told Robin of Locksley was a nobleman. If so, he either wished to hide the fact or he had fallen on hard times. The assassin found himself wondering again why he had been sent to kill him. He pushed the thought away. It was not his concern. Another few hours, and he would be on a ship, bound for France, and away from this scorpion-infested land. The first thing he would do on his arrival would be to take a bath and wash every ounce of sand from his body. It got into his clothes and hair and coated his skin so that it itched constantly. If there was one thing the assassin hated, it was not being clean.

Drawing a dagger from his belt, he slit the tent flap. Once the opening was wide enough, he slipped inside.

Buy Links

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords

About N.B. Dixon

Author Bio

N.B. Dixon is an author of historical fiction. Her love for the Robin Hood legend began in a neglected corner of the school library and has continued ever since. She is a self-confessed bookworm and also a musician.

She began work on the Outlaw’s Legacy Series in 2013, and was accepted by Beaten Track Publishing in 2016. Outlaw’s Legacy is a historical series based around the Robin Hood legend. The author describes it as Exciting Historical Adventure with GLBT romance.

Connect with N.B.

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Knight of Sherwood, the second novel in the Outlaw’s Legacy series, N.B. Dixon is giving away an e-copy to 3 lucky winners. For your chance to win, simply enter via the Rafflecopter below. The contest closes at midnight EST on September 29, 2017, and is open to entrants worldwide.

Good luck!

Enter here.

Tour Stops

Loves Great Reads | Boys on the Brink | Up ‘Til Dawn | CelticLady’s Reviews | Abibliophobia Anonymous | Love to Read Romance Books | Behind Closed Doors | Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words | A.M. Leibowitz | The Bookworm Lodge | Bloggers from Down Under | Books, Dreams, Life | I Heart Reading | Always Love Me Some Books | Stories that Make You Smile | Making It Happen | All Things Bookaholic | MM Good Book Reviews | Happily Ever Chapter | My Fiction Nook

Tour Hosted by LoveBound Promotions

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In Our Spotlight: Heir of Locksley by N.B. Dixon ~ Guest Post and Giveaway

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Heir of Locksley by N.B. Dixon (Tour Banner)

Title: Heir of Locksley

Series: Outlaw’s Legacy, Book 1

Author: N.B. Dixon

Publisher: Beaten Track Publishing

Cover Artist: Natasha Snow

Release Date: December 1st, 2016

Genre(s): Historical, M/M

Words: 108,000

View on Goodreads

Accuracy Versus a Good Story by N.B. Dixon

There is much pressure on authors of historical fiction to be as accurate about their chosen subject as possible. For some it’s more important than others. Some authors pride themselves on their historical accuracy. There are other authors who believe a good story is more important. I’ve had reviewers jump on me for the tiniest little inaccuracy. What’s even more frustrating is when the reviewer turns out to be wrong. They are inaccurate about their inaccuracy. If that isn’t enough to give you a headache, I don’t know what is. So, which is more important: accuracy or a good story?

My mum once told me that when she reads a historical fiction novel, she wants the story, not a history lesson. “If I’d wanted a history lesson, I’d have bought a textbook,” were her exact words, and they have stayed with me. When I first began researching my ‘Outlaw’s Legacy’ series, I was determined to be as accurate as possible, but this caused several problems with the story.

For instance, if I described Sherwood Forest accurately, I would have to say it was some distance from Nottingham, rather than right outside the city gates, as it is often described. However, Robin galloping along open roads pursued by soldiers in a desperate attempt to reach Sherwood might have sounded good the first time around, but not every single time he made an escape. Robin disappearing into the Forest while soldiers blundered around looking for him was, in my opinion, a much more entertaining idea.

Hollywood certainly has a lot to answer for. They never seem to have cared too much about inaccuracies. For example, where the hero is shot with an arrow, that arrow is quite often yanked out on the spot. If that was attempted in real life, it would likely kill the patient. However, our TV heroes struggle manfully through the ordeal and heal in record time. This is perhaps an example of where suspension of disbelief is required.

I personally believe a good author can be both historically accurate and entertaining. Yet, my mum’s words have stood me in good stead. If there are times when it really would make the story better for me to exaggerate the truth somewhat, or deviate ever so slightly from the facts, I believe it’s OK to do so. Major inaccuracies, such as claiming that King Richard the Lionheart ruled after the death of his brother John, are, however, unforgivable. That’s just sloppy. Many authors add historical notes at the end of their work, and use this as a device for explaining why they have told the story a certain way. I find this a nice compromise. At the end of the day, the story is what matters most. After all, we are authors of fiction.

About the Book

Blurb

HeirOfLocksley

Robin of Locksley is a rebel, more comfortable roaming Sherwood Forest with his longbow and courting the village girls than learning how to run a manor.

An innocent flirtation with a peasant girl soon lands Robin in trouble, and worse, he finds himself inexplicably attracted to Will Scathelock, his best friend since childhood. Robin must decide whether to follow the rules of society or his own conscience.

Meanwhile, his neighbour, Guy of Gisborne, is anxious to get his hands on the Locksley estate and he will do anything to make it happen – even murder.

Buy Links

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes | Smashwords

About N.B. Dixon

Author Bio

N.B. Dixon is an author of historical fiction. Her love for the Robin Hood legend began in a neglected corner of the school library and has continued ever since. She is a self-confessed bookworm and also a musician.

She began work on the *Outlaw’s Legacy* Series in 2013, and was accepted by Beaten Track Publishing in 2016. *Outlaw’s Legacy* is a historical series based around the Robin Hood legend. The author describes it as Exciting Historical Adventure with GLBT romance.

Connect with N.B.

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Giveaway

Three lucky winners will receive an e-copy of Heir of Locksley,, the first in the Outlaw’s Legacy series by N.B. Dixon, a highly original retelling of the Robin Hood legend. To be in with a chance, simply enter via the Rafflecopter below. The contest closes at midnight EST on May 6 and is open to entrants worldwide.

Good luck!

Enter here

Tour Stops

April 24

Exclusive Excerpt at Bloggers from Down Under
Guest Post at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

April 25

Exclusive Excerpt at Books, Dreams, Life
Guest Post at Love Bytes Reviews
Exclusive Excerpt at Shh, I Am Reading

April 26

Book Review by BFD Book Blog
Exclusive Excerpt at Bayou Book Junkie

April 27

Author Interview with Stories that Make You Smile
Character Interview at Drops of Ink

April 28

Exclusive Excerpt at MM Good Book Reviews
Author Interview with MM Book Escape

April 29

Guest Post at Making It Happen
Character Interview at Boy Meets Boy Reviews

April 30

Guest Post at Howling for Books

Tour Hosted by LoveBound Promotions

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In the Spotlight: Caught Inside (Boys on the Brink #1) by Jamie Deacon (excerpt and giveaway)

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Caught Inside (Boys on the Brink #1) by Jamie Deacon

Release Date: September 29, 2016

Goodreads Link
Publisher: Beaten Track Publishing
Cover Artist: Natasha Snow

 

Blurb

Luke believes he has his life figured out…and then he meets Theo.

It should have been simple—a summer spent with his girlfriend Zara at her family’s holiday cottage in Cornwall. Seventeen-year-old Luke Savage jumps at the chance, envisioning endless hours of sunbathing on the private beach and riding the waves on his beloved surfboard. He isn’t interested in love. Though his rugged good looks and lazy charm mean he can have his pick of girls, he has no intention of falling for anyone.

Nothing prepares Luke for his reaction to Theo, the sensitive Oxford undergraduate who is Zara’s cousin and closest friend. All at once, he is plunged along a path of desire and discovery that has him questioning everything he thought he knew about himself. No one, especially Zara, must find out; what he and Theo have is too new, too fragile. But as the deceit spirals beyond their control, people are bound to get hurt, Luke most of all.

 

 

Pages or Words: 83,000

Categories: Contemporary, M/M Romance, Young Adult

 

Excerpt:

I swallow against the dryness in my throat. “We need to talk.”

No response.

Slowly, as though wading through deep sand, I cross the room until I’m standing right behind him. He grips the edge of the worktop.

“Theo?”

Still nothing. Only the convulsive tightening of his fingers shows he even heard me.

“Theo,” my voice cracks, “don’t do this.”

Theo sucks in a breath. When he replies, his tone is even. “Do what?”

“This. Shutting me out.”

“I’m—”

“And don’t say you’re not, because we both know that isn’t true.” I’m aware of my voice rising, and lower it with an effort. “Just…don’t.”

Theo exhales in a long sigh. He turns to me, his expression distant but not unkind. I wish he’d glare at me, shout, whatever. Anything to show he gives a damn.

“Luke, I’m sorry about this morning. It was a mistake. If you got the wrong impression—”

“The wrong impression? You kissed me. What impression was that supposed to give me?”

He casts a nervous glance at the window.

“What’s wrong, Theo? Worried Giles might hear? I don’t blame you. He’d probably make you bathe in disinfectant for a year if he knew you’d kissed scum like me.” Theo starts to protest, but I shake my head. “You know what? Forget it. So sorry I embarrassed you.”

I need to get out of here. Humiliation, hot and clammy, coils like tar through my veins. Still, what did I expect? Theo’s made it perfectly clear how he sees me, that he thinks I’m beneath him. I grab for the nearest glass, intending to pour myself a liver full of whatever’s in that jug, but my hand shakes so much it slips through my fingers. Glass collides with oak in a minor explosion, glittering fragments flying.

“Shit.” I drop to my knees, begin picking up the larger pieces. I fumble, a jagged shard slicing my palm. “Shit.”

“Luke?” Theo crouches beside me.

“I’m fine.” I turn away from the phony concern in his eyes, fist clenched around the cut to hide it from view. Blood trickles through my fingers and onto my jeans. The pain is almost a relief.

“Let me see.” Theo holds out his hand, but I jerk away.

“I said I’m fine.”

He ignores me. With gentle firmness, he takes hold of my wrist, uncurling my fingers to examine the wound. My body stills. I scarcely breathe. Every nerve ending, every particle of my being is aware of him, the pressure of his fingers on my wrist, his warm palm supporting the back of my hand.

Buy the book

Beaten Track Publishing |Amazon UK |Amazon US | Barnes & Noble

Kobo | ARe | Smashwords

 

 

Meet the author:

Jamie lives in a tranquil spot close to the River Thames in Berkshire, England, and has always been just a little out of place—the only redhead in a family of brunettes; an introvert far more at ease with dogs than with people; a connoisseur of simple pleasures in a society intent on the quest for wealth and fame. Despite an outward cynicism, Jamie is a romantic at heart, and, when not immersed in a book, can mostly be found writing emotional stories where young men from all walks of life are thrust headlong into the breathless, euphoric, often painful whirlwind called love.

 

Where to find the author:


Tour Dates & Stops:

Parker Williams, Divine Magazine, Making It Happen, Bayou Book Junkie, Open Skye Book Reviews, Havan Fellows, Charley Descoteaux, Happily Ever Chapter, Dawn’s Reading Nook, The Jena Wade, Three Books Over The Rainbow, A.M. Leibowitz, Butterfly-O-Meter, Nephy Hart, BFD Book Blog, Up All Night, Read All Day, V’s Reads, Outrageous Heroes, Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews, Two Chicks Obsessed With Books and Eye Candy, Alpha Book Club, MM Book Escape, Book Lovers 4Ever, Wake Up Your Wild SideScattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Unquietly Me, Kirsty Loves Books, Velvet Panic, Molly Lolly, MM Good Book Reviews

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