A MelanieM Audio Review: Devil Take Me anthology by Rhys Ford , Ginn Hale ,Jordan L. Hawk ,T.A. Moore ,C.S. Poe ,Jordan Castillo Price , and Greg Tremblay (Narrator)

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Rating 5 stars out of 5

Temptation lurks around every corner in worlds sometimes dark, sometimes lurid. Giving in is both dangerous and satisfying, though never in the ways one expects. While these enticements offer a vast range of benefits and boons, the cost is a soul and the devil expects his due. Sometimes suave and charming or calculating and cruel, these devils have schemes and desires of their own. They can be creatures to run away from… or toward.

Join the most unique and celebrated authors of LGBT urban fantasy and paranormal fiction for a fast-paced and unpredictable ride, from a city on the other side of reality, to a world suspended in dusk, to a twisted version of the 1960s and 70s.

Meet devils in top hats and waistcoats, a defrocked motorcycle-riding priest, and a genderfluid antihero—among many more. Full of humor, romance, horror, action, intrigue, and magic, these stories have one common element….

They’re one hell of a good time.

5 Stars ~ just 5 stars because even if the ratings sorts of varied up and down ever so slightly in my mind per tale this is an exemplary collection of stories from a group of authors who know their way around the supernatural narrative.  Boy howdy, how they delivered.  Chilling, humorous, thought provoking, wildly imaginative, and filled with love and loyalty that borders on horror, every tale here is one to be savored.  So no ratings from here on out, they are just incredible in their own way.

Infernal Affairs by Jordan L. Hawk
Jordan L. Hawk launches the collection with a tale that’s one of my favorite’s. A demon Ralgath, on his first assignment as a crossroads demon, gets played by a gorgeous mortal, Chess, who screws Ralgath (literally) into giving them a contract for superhero powers so they can go out into the world and fight for good.  Ralgath’s boss is not happy with him, and the subsequent funny actions and events lead to Ralgath meeting up with Chase again.  This is a rich story, full of laughs, love, adventure, redemption, and heroes.  Done with in the wonderful Jordan L. Hawk style, with outstanding plot and characters so well done you wanted more.

Collared by TA Moore
“Sometimes, when you couldn’t change what was going on and you didn’t want to understand it, all you could do was shove it under the bed and make sure your toes didn’t stick out from the covers.”

TA Moore has become an author whose stories I look out for.  They twist and turn with the unusual and the edgy.  That’s very apparent here with Collared and the relationship between Jack and Meth.  It evolves, or better the truth of their relationship is slowly revealed over the course of the story.  However, it’s not so evident at the beginning when Jack sets out to track down a missing child.  It’s an horrific case, one that grows worse the more details that are gathered.  Jack’s background too is shown and the dynamics between Jack, Meth, and the other players becomes more complicated and fascinating.

This story had a way of sending me running off for more of this author immediately because everything was so spot on.  The world building, characters, storyline and ending.  Even down to the small chilling details that would come in the future.  Just amazing.  Would that I see more of this world, Jack, and Meth.  More cases, more of their haunting and haunted relationship. I would tell you this is a favorite of mine (it is), but that is going to get redundant after a while.

Counterfeit Viscount by Ginn Hale

.The Viscount Archibald is leading a double life. Since he’s soll his soul to Nimble, he becomes Archie and descends into the underbelly of the town to pay his due every three months. This allows him to keep his title and have his revenge against his uncle. This is alternative history where Prodigals, the descendants of fallen angels who have been converted by the Church, live alongside humans. A prodigal boy in service to a lord is afraid a fellow servant who’s gone missing was murdered at the Dee Club after its Sunday fights.

This story was one of the ones that was a little dense at the beginning.  It took time to get into.  Although once Archie and Nimble’s background become clear, I become more connected to them and this story.  The last section contained most of the action and held my attention.  This was probably the one story that I scrambled through.

11:59 by C.S. Poe
“He is all that stands between the innocent and the flesh-eating monsters who were once human. Because Asuka no longer dreams, he cannot be chased into consciousness by one of the nightmares.”

CS Poe is another name that’s landed on my must read list.  Such a marvelous, surprising author of great narrative depth.  This story is a perfect example of why you should search out their tales.  Incredible worldbuilding, endlessly fascinating, it starts with Asuka, who sold his soul to the devil so he would never dream again, lose the nightmares, and prevent him from becoming a monster.  But like all contracts with the devil, there’s the fine prints, and all the dreams are lost, including the ones that bring the hope, and the wishes, and much more.

Next up is Merrick, who has spent his time studying mythology and believes he knows the source of the nightmares and how they can be destroyed if he and Asuka work together.

What follows is an exciting, tautly constructed tale, full of mythology, gripping with suspense and action, twists and turns, plus an ending that will leave your jaw hanging open.

Wonderland City by Rhys Ford
“Back before I met the Devil and bled my soul out into his hands, I’d have thought chasing a cigar-munching white bunny with pink eyes was something I’d only run into after I chewed on a few peyote buttons.
Now it was a typical Tuesday.”

A Rhys Ford story can bring out the fangyrl in me and Wonderland City is a perfect example why.  Ford takes Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice in Wonderland and gives it a warped, wonderful further twist  Here the Queen of Heart’s has been executed, Xander Spade sold his soul to the Devil because, hey, he was a very naive and dumb kid at the time, who ended in down the Rabbit hole.

Then the Devil,Az, says he will return Xander’s soul if he will just do a favor…yeah, right.

This is my all time favorite story here.  You meet all the characters you might expect to meet in Wonderland…just don’t expect them and it to look and things to go as you would think. Things here are convoluted, masterfully warped, the scenes vivid and sharp, and, each twist more memorable than the last.

Dark Favors by Jordan Castillo Price
“The driver looked me up and down and said, “You strike me as a perceptive young man.” That really should’ve been my first clue that I was dealing with the Prince of Lies.”

Johnny Lockheart has been offered the chance to get his soul back from the Devil if he murders a TV star, but her bodyguard Adam is going to have something to say about that. Both of them are Chosen, which means that they trade favors for power and know how the world really works stripped of illusion by the Sight. The flashbacks help us understand how Johnny ends up the way he is, and are well timed to pack a punch. This book makes better use of the idea of evil being seductive, whereas the other books focus on the grotesque, or horror elements.

Dark Favors was the perfect way to end this collection.  Strong, effective, and, for me, it held just that ever so fleeting hint of bittersweetness or darkness one needs when reading a collection of stories dealing with men who have sold their souls to the Devil. It is exactly how this story should end and what I would expect from Jordan Castillo Price, that extra depth that makes a story so memorable. 

Greg Tremblay did a superlative job with all the many voices here.  From little girls to white rabbits, to various demons to gender fluid humans and much more, he handles each one effortlessly.  It was such a pleasure to listen to each and every story.  The time just flew by.  He was the  perfect match for this collection!

Cover art: Reece Notley.  That model does draw your eye.  What does it represent to you?  One of the 7 deadly sins?  Could be….

Sales Links:   DSP Publications   |  AmazonAudible |

 

Audiobook Details:

 

Audible Audio, Unabridged
Published December 27th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press (first published October 16th 2018)
Original TitleDevil Take Me
ASINB07L5Y3M59
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Chaos Moondrawn Release Day Review: Devil Take Me Anthology by authors Rhys Ford, Ginn Hale , Jordan L. Hawk, T.A. Moore , C.S. Poe , Jordan Castillo Price

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Infernal Affairs by Jordan L. Hawk
I would rate this 4.5 stars.
We meet Ralgath on his first day on the job as a crossroads demon summoned by Chess. In exchange for his soul, Chess gets powers to hunt monsters and vampires. Poor Ralgath never stood a chance against them. Three years after getting demoted, Ralgath gets an opportunity to redeem himself, but he needs Chess to help him since they can track Otherworldly beings as part of their contract. Two demons are missing, but things are not what they seem. Between tracking missing humans and demons, escaping a rabid fan, thwarting an assassin, and fighting an epic battle scene, they fall in love. This made me laugh. Although the sexy times are not explicit and mostly off page, it was clever, well written and has almost everything you could want in a fun short story.
Collared by T.A. Moore
I would rate this 4.25 stars.
This one starts out as hardboiled detective with some Preacher mixed in. It’s gruesome and written well enough to picture it, so be warned. When you watch T.A.’s videos, she sounds so nice. This is really intriguing world-building. Math is the demon who owns Jack’s soul and someone stole something from him so he uses Jack to help him get it back. Imagine the bittersweet torture of having your worst mistake ever, and something you still crave, controlling you forever. This one is as explicit as the last one was circumspect. Jack is now a private detective whom a policeman named Ben comes to for help on the weirdest of his cases–they have their own history. A man is dead, and his wife and daughter are missing. Of course, these are the same case. There are some great plots twists here, and some that didn’t work as well, in my opinion. If you are a horror fan, this will be right up your alley. I enjoyed it, but it was so gross, I’m not sure I would read it again. I would have rated it higher, but what I liked about the writing style of the first part, didn’t seem to be there in the second half.
Counterfeit Viscount
I would rate this 4.25 stars.
The Visount Archibald is leading a double life. Since he’s soll his soul to Nimble, he becomes Archie and descends into the underbelly of the town to pay his due every three months. This allows him to keep his title and have his revenge against his uncle. This is alternative history where Prodigals, the descendants of fallen angels who have been converted by the Church, live alongside humans. A prodigal boy in service to a lord is afraid a fellow servant who’s gone missing was murdered at the Dee Club after its Sunday fights. This was difficult for me to get into; I’m going to chalk this up to the writing choices at the beginning. I started to warm to the MCs and became intrigued by the plot about halfway through. As the author reveals more about Archie’s upbringing, we understand his motives. Although I did see the plot twists coming, I enjoyed reading them. This is not my usual genre and it charmed me in spite of myself, so if it’s your type of thing, I imagine you will be as well.
11:59 by C.S. Poe
I would rate this 4 stars.
Asuka is tricked by the Devil when he sells his soul to help save people from the monsters that come from a world full of nightmares. His world is bleak. One day the Devil needs a favor, and Asuka will risk much to reclaim his soul. Meeting Merrick has shown him how much he has lost from his deal. It is a cold realization, of logic and comprehension rather than a messy emotion. It’s difficult to see how Merrick retains any innocence or hope in this world. He also must seriously like the brusque, strong type. The story is intellectually intriguing though. The Greek mythical elements allow fate (or the Fates?) to give us an epic ending. I missed the emotional elements though.

Wonderland City by Rhys Ford
I would rate this 4.5 stars.
This version of Hell is through the looking glass–think Alice in Wonderland turns into Sin City. After Xander Spade loses his soul to a fallen angel named Az, he gets trapped there as the Queen’s Ace. After the death of the Queen of Hearts, the place goes feral. With the help of the Knave of Hearts, Jean Michel, Xander has to find a missing girl whose presence threatens chaos and his chance to finally go home. This is a clever retelling rich with imagination, with flashes of dark humor.

Dark Favors by Jordan Castillo Price.
I would rate this 4.5 stars.
Johnny Lockheart has been offered the chance to get his soul back from the Devil if he murders a TV star, but her bodyguard Adam is going to have something to say about that. Both of them are Chosen, which means that they trade favors for power and know how the world really works stripped of illusion by the Sight. The flashbacks help us understand how Johnny ends up the way he is, and are well timed to pack a punch. This book makes better use of the idea of evil being seductive, whereas the other books focus on the grotesque, or horror elements. This HEA leaves you with a dreary feeling and will get you in the Halloween mood and reminds me of the feeling I get when I watch a movie called Angle Heart.

I really enjoyed this whole anthology. Of course, anthologies are always a mixed bag and some stories you will always favor over others, but that is subjective for each person. I found this anthology to be pretty even on quality, more so than many anthologies. If you like dark fantasy and horror, I would highly recommend it. What grounds each story is love or something worth fighting for.

The cover art is by Reece Notley. There are so many delightful characters in this, I am not sure why this picture was chosen. It seems a little bland for the subject matter. I believe it fits a scene from the C.S. Poe story.

Sales Links:  DSP Publications | Amazon
Book Details:
ebook, 450 pages
Expected publication: October 16th 2018 by DSP Publications
Original Title Devil Take Me
ISBN13 9781640808874
Edition Language English

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Once Upon a Time in the Weird West Anthology

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Rating:  4.75 stars out of 5

 

once-upon-a-time-in-the-weird-westThis isn’t the same old Wild West. The usual suspects are all present: cowboys, outlaws, and sheriffs. There’s plenty of dust, tumbleweeds, horses, and cattle on the range, but there are also magical gems, automatons, elementals, airships… even dinosaurs and genetically modified insects. Roaming among the buffalo and coyotes, you’ll encounter skinwalkers, mad engineers, mythical beings cloaked in darkness, and lovers who stay true to their oaths… even beyond the grave. On this frontier are those at the mercy of their own elaborate devices as well as men whose control of time and space provides a present-day vision of the West. There might even be a dragon hidden amongst the ghost towns and wagon trains.

If you like your Westerns with a splash of magic, a touch of steampunk, and plenty of passionate romance between men, these genre-bending tales will exceed expectations.

Hold on to your hats, cowboys and cowgirls. The West is about to get weird, and you’re in for a hell of a ride.

Its been quite a while since I’ve  read such a strong and outstanding anthology.  I can recommend almost every story and most are 4 to 5 stars.  Its remarkable.  The American West has always been wild but never this weird and extraordinary.  In the hands of these authors, they transport the readers and romance into other dimensions  and worlds entirely.  From steampunk to mages to things supernatural, all the roads to love, however strange and mysterious, can be found here.

I’ve listed them in the order they can be found in the anthology with my comments and ratings.

Reaper’s Ride by Astrid Amara  – 5 Stars

Johnny Jenkins  loves  most aspects of riding  for the Pony Express, but  the  loneliness  can  be  hard  to  abide.  When  a  raid  injures  the  station keeper  at  remote  Jacob’s  Well,  Johnny  is  left  alone  to  tend  the  incoming riders until a replacement can be found. Isolated and without even a horse to keep him company, Johnny thinks he might go mad from solitude. 

That is, until he meets Sye Fairchild, a rider for a different kind of express.  This  one  operates  in  the  shadows,  and  the  deliveries  are  of  a much  darker  nature.  Sye  is  dashing  and  kind,  but  he’s  also  under  a deadline—he’s  got  to  finish  his  deliveries  by  Friday,  or  he  breaks  a  very old and very serious bargain. 

And  as  Johnny  finds  a  kindred  soul  in  Sye,  he  realizes  that  soul needs saving—even if it means ruining his own.

 Astrid Amara does her normal outstanding job of melding accurate historical fiction with the supernatural in the Reaper’s Ride, one of my favorites.  It launches this anthology with a bang and I still have this couple hanging about in my head.

Wild, Wild Heart by Shira Anthony – 5 stars

Al Pennington and Cyrus Reese are both damaged men. Apprenticed as a child to a master who created clockwork wonders, Al now prefers to spend his days on his secluded homestead, toiling over his own fantastical inventions. But when he takes the wounded Cyrus into his home and nurses him back to health, Al realizes he wants Cyrus to stay. Al’s tired of being alone, Cyrus is tired of running, and maybe their time together can be a balm to wounds left by their difficult pasts. 

When an outlaw bent on dragging Cyrus back into a life of crime comes knocking, Al is seriously injured. Cyrus must quite literally take Al’s broken heart in his hands to save his life.

 Wild, Wild Heart by Shira Anthony makes steampunk inventions believable as she does the men who  toil over them.  Here a simple sound become ominous, and then  joyous.  I loved it.

Dr. Ezekiel Crumb’s Heavenly Soul Purifying Elixir by Lex Chase – 3.75 stars

Dr. Ezekiel Crumb’s Medicine Show runs a booming business conning homesteaders with his Heavenly Soul Purifying Elixir. He takes advantage of the gullible, who believe the only way to be purged of their sins is with his moonshine—strong enough to strip paint at forty paces. 

When a sandstorm buries his caravan, Ezekiel is hauled to safety and trapped in his wagon. His savior is none other than Levi Everett, his lost love. But Ezekiel put him in the ground years ago, and he fears Levi is the Devil, come to demand atonement for his sins. The tale Levi spins leaves Ezekiel wondering if he’s lost his own soul—or maybe his mind. All he knows is that not even his elixir can heal his broken heart.

 I thought this story got stronger the further in I got and loved the ending.

Corpse Powder by Jana Denardo –    4.75 stars

Doctor Isaac Adler came to Virginia City, Nevada, to escape the horrors he witnessed during the War between the States. Despite a living in a thriving Jewish community, Isaac’s having trouble finding his faith… and finding work. Just when he’s contemplating leaving the desert, life takes an unexpected turn when the airship Aurora is attacked by pirates and Isaac is called upon to help the wounded.

The ship’s first mate, Tsela “Alexander” Zhani, is also trying to outrun a nightmare, his in the form of the powerful skinwalker who drove him from his Navajo village. Tsela’s friendship with the handsome doctor responsible for saving the lives of his friends gives both men a fragile hope for a better future. But their demons aren’t as far behind them as they thought.

 Corpse Powder  blends two religions and two disparate men and comes up with a remarkable romance.  One is Dr. Isaac Adler, Jewish and afraid of heights.  The other, a flying ship’s first mate, Tsela Zhani, a Navajo being chased by a skinwalker.    The imagination shown by the author in not only Denardo’s world building but the battle scenes and the characters is amazing.  Another world I could happily have stayed in.

The Sheriff of Para Siempre by Jamie Fessenden  – 3 stars

In 1875, Billy Slade is one of the fastest gunmen in the territory of New Mexico, despite his youth. With his lover, Joe Brady, he travels from town to town, hiring out his skill wherever he can—provided the cause is noble. Billy fancies himself a hero defending the common man against bandits and ruffians. But a night of passion gets Billy and Joe run off the ranch they helped defend from rustlers.

In the failing mining town of Para Siempre, Billy’s skill as a marksman lands him the job of sheriff. But the town is run by the corrupt Cassidy brothers, who take a liking to Billy and Joe, and they’re used to getting what they want. When Billy rejects Jed Cassidy’s proposition, Jed challenges him to a gunfight. It’s a fight Billy could easily win—but the Cassidys don’t play fair.

For me, this was the only story I disliked.  The writing is good but the story is one that I actually ending up rushing through.  From a rape and murder, its sad, bittersweet and left a awful taste in my mouth.  Its 3 stars only because the writing is so good.  Disliked everything else. 

The Tale of August Hayling by Kim Fielding – 4 stars

August Hayling went west following the discovery of gold in California. While most prospectors were hoping to strike it rich, August was more interested in a place big enough to let him get lost. Sitting alone in a saloon, he is approached by a peculiar man named Georgios Cappadocia, who offers August a fortune in gold if August will come along and help him fetch it. August soon learns that his strange new employer is engaged in some kind of ancient dispute. And when they arrive at their destination, both men will realize that not all treasures are golden—and sometimes destinies can be changed.

Ah a Kim Fielding story!  I never know which way its going to go.  This time its whimsical.  I sort of guessed at the identities of the characters but that didn’t take away my enjoyment of the story.  Extra bonus?  Features one of my favorite fantasy creatures!

 Time Zone by Andrew Q. Gordon –   4.5 stars

Some people possess gifts that allow them to change the world. For Wesley Blake, it’s all a matter of time. He can stretch a handful of seconds into a whole day. But his ability hasn’t saved Wesley from being hurt by others. As a field agent for the Department of Gifted Americans, Wesley throws himself into his work to forget that he is alone. The only person Wesley trusts is his handler, Lothar.

Then a vital mission brings a new partner, Eric, who refuses to let Wesley shut him out. As they train for their assignment, a friendship builds between them. Wesley cautiously lets Eric into his life, until he learns Eric and Lothar lied to him. Betrayed and angry, Wesley struggles to control his powers, and when things take a dangerous turn, even Wesley might not have enough time to get out with his life.

 Another strong story. Time Zone and Andrew Q. Gordon delivers great characters and a fascinating world.  Wesley Blake in particular, a vulnerable gifted man with a dependancy on his handler Lothar, who he’s never met.  How the story unfolds, its revelations, including the spectacular one at the end?  It kept me involved and connected to Wesley and his path to love.  Outstanding story.

Get Lucky by Ginn Hale – 5 Stars  

Pinkerton detectives, saltwater crocodiles, the Borax Brothers, and the sinister Swaims: seems everyone is out to get water mage, Lucky Spivey.

Lucky Spivey just wants to pay off his dead father’s debts and forget about the gunslinger who left him waiting at the stagecoach station three years before. But when he stumbles across a handsome Pinkerton detective in mortal peril, he can’t abandon the man to his fate, and all too soon Lucky finds himself in a wild chase filled with magic, murder, and a triceratops or two. Surviving the marshlands might mean working together with a disturbingly familiar gunslinger…. 

 Ginn Hale had me at Lucky Spivey.   What a wild ride!  Mages, crocodiles, swamps and a lost love returned.  I really wanted so much more at the end.  If you’re listening Ginn Hale, bring Lucky back and his beau too. 

From Ancient Grudge to New Mutiny by Langley Hyde – 4 stars

In the small town of Wilson Creek, two handsome lovers, destined for death at each other’s hands, attempt to end their families’ Shakespearean feud over precious magical minerals.

When James Caplin, inventor of a new magic-detecting device, returns home after graduating from Hinton’s Academy for Boys, he’s looking to have one last hurrah with a handsome cowboy. But he discovers not only that his handsome cowboy is Frank Montgomery, the son of the Caplins’ hated enemies, but also that the Montgomerys are accused of stealing the Caplins’ precious illudine, a rare magical stone. When the argument between the Montgomerys and Caplins becomes heated, James and Frank are expected to settle the matter with a duel. If James doesn’t want to put a bullet in Frank, he’ll have to recover the illudine, reveal the thief, and end a centuries-old rivalry… and he needs Frank’s help.

 Romeo and Jules with Alchemy.  Another neat twist on the  Romeo and Juliet  tale with  a M/M twist and turns.  I wish I had more background on the world but it was  fascinating in the bits and pieces the author set out.  

POMH by Venona Keyes  4 .5 stars

Lorem Farcome makes inventions that cater to the working class. He dreams of a lost chance in love and a lost apprentice. The lost love he can do nothing about, but an apprentice, he can surely build. With a rare red prism, Lorem creates and animates his assistant, dubbing him “Pomh.” The road never runs smooth, and a wealthy and powerful competitor, Markus Reighn, accuses Lorem of stealing the red prism and claims Lorem’s mechanical man for himself. But an odd-looking prospector might hold the key to clearing Lorem’s name and giving Lorem his true heart’s desire.  

Lorem has lost someone and he makes  wonderful inventions.  He finds a rare prism, and something miraculous  occurs.  Venona Keyes takes us on a steampunk journey of lost love and heartbreak and miracles.  Its one to be treasured, a standout in a collection of standouts.

 

Oh, Give Me a Home by Nicole Kimberling – 5 stars

Corporate terraformer turned social justice worker, Gordon gave up a good living to pioneer New Saturn, where the ranges are as vast as they sky—just the way Gordon likes them. Together with his partner Henry, Gordon herds the ankle-high genetically modified insects, which deposit crucial bacteria into the soil so the ground can one day be farmed. But when rustlers strike, the barren beauty of the frontier  turns deadly, and Gordon must risk everything to keep himself and Henry alive. 

Nicole Kimberling has long been a favorie of mine, especially her Bellingham Mysteries.  Here you have an established  couple Henry (born earthbound) and Gordon (born in space) and their herd of bugs each with their personalities.  Yes from Screwloose to Queen Esther, you’ll be falling in love with these terraforming bugs too.  Kimberling gives us the complete world, including Gordon’s space born physiology and what that must mean when it comes to making love or even existing within quarters with gravity.  A stunning story all around.

Gunner the Deadly by C.S. Poe – 5 stars

Special Agent Gillian Hamilton is one of the top magic casters in law enforcement. Sent to Shallow Grave, Arizona to arrest a madman engineer responsible for blowing up half of Baltimore, Gillian isn’t expecting a run-in with notorious outlaw, Gunner the Deadly.

Gillian and Gunner become temporary teammates when it turns out they’re after the same man. The Tinkerer will stop at nothing to get rid of the two so he can steal the town’s silver mines and build an army of steam machines to take down the country. If facing Gatling guns, airships, and magic wasn’t enough, Gillian must also struggle with the notion that he’s rather fond of his criminal partner. But perhaps a union between copper and outlaw isn’t so weird out in the wild and lawless West.

 Gillian and Gunner and a madman on the loose in a steampunk world.  Its wildly imaginative, its fast paced, and its romantic.  Loved it.

After the Wind by Tali Spencer     –  5 stars

Plagued by drought and raids from hostile Comanches, the West Texas frontier is a hell of a place to carve out a living. Twenty years ago, a mysterious disaster devastated the Llano Estacado and cursed the survivors with supernatural abilities over Fire, Air, Water, and Earth. The Anglo government promptly outlawed these powers—and they’re willing to pay good money to anyone who turns over an elemental, dead or alive.

When rancher Micah Dawes desperately needs water for his herd, he strikes a deal with two unsavory bounty hunters for the services of a chained, blue-haired water elemental named Rain. Micah pities Rain, but he has to play his cards close to his chest—because Micah, too, survived the Wind, and the reason he always wears a hat is to hide his glowing red hair….

We end up this extraordinary collection with a strong story.  After the Wind by Tali Spencer.   Is the Wind an environmental foreshadowing?  Whatever the cause the devastating effects on the human and animal population is swift and brutal.  Genetic changes for the remaining populations in some areas that cause them to be hunted and killed for their properties.  Its heartbreaking and Spencer brings that out in vividly described passages and the character of Rain.

The story is stark and yet, full of hope at the end.  Its a perfect way for Once Upon a Time in the Weird West to come to a close.  But these characters?  They will continue to stay with you for some time yet.  What great stories!  What marvelous world building.  More,  I want much, much more.  I highly recommend this anthology.  Its one of the best I’ve read and it will in my Best of 2016 List!

Cover Artist: Nathie Block.  I just love this cover.  Eye catching and works for the stories.

Sales Links

           

Book Details:

ebook, 400 pages
Expected publication: December 16th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634779185 (ISBN13: 9781634779180)
Edition LanguageEnglish

Venona Keys Talks Inspiration, Short Stories and the Anthology ‘Once Upon a Time in the Weird West’ (Dreamspinner Press guest post and giveaway)

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weirdwestfs_v1

Once Upon a Time in the Weird West
by Langley Hyde , Astrid Amara , Ginn Hale , Nicole Kimberling ,
C.S. Poe, Lex Chase , Venona Keyes , Tali Spence

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have  Venona Keyes here today to talk about her short story and the inspiration behind it in the Dreamspinner anthology Once Upon a Time in the Weird West.  Welcome, Venona!

~

Short Story Title: POMH byVenona Keyes

When people ask, “What inspired you to write this story?” It’s usually a song or a human interest  story or a news event.  For the Weird West, my inspiration was the movie Bicentennial Man and The Jetsons. Really? In a steam-punky inspired story, I drew upon those things? Yes, in an old fashioned way.

A re-imagined West, one where a new mechanical revolution was the norm. Tracks laid down  by steam powered machines; built not just for a train, but for individual carriages or wagon carriages. I could see people zooming by (actually steaming by), to escape the confines of the crowded and polluted East, to conquer the wild open spaces of the West. To spread out and make a fortune, or a better life.
Inventors were key to this expansion. They were much like what blacksmiths were back in the day; a valuable member of the community who helped build the community with metal items.  Inventors in this west make mechanical items while the blacksmiths still made metal items; horseshoes, wagon wheels, hinges, door knockers, and weapons.

Inventors were the craftsman of machines that made life easier.  No matter where you were on the economic ladder, you had at least one item made by an inventor.   Some of these items were steam-powered baby prams,  child corrallers, tree fruit harvesters, and horseless carriages to name a few.  As you got up in the social and monied classes, the disposable income went to a more frivolous or luxurious type item, like gilded mechanical flying birds, encrusted with jewels and ivory. The ingenuity of the item was only limited by the imagination of the inventor.
In POMH, the main character, Lorem Farcome, is in dire need of an assistant. He no longer wants a human assistant, but one that is steam powered.  He dreamed and designed it, and with a find of a rare prism, he can make his dream come true.  Jealousy and envy prove to be a big stumbling blocks, as another, more monied and more powerful inventor has his sights on taking the creation, Pomh, from Lorem.

Have you ever had a dream come true, and was the path to the dream an easy or hard one?  Or, what has inspired you to achieve something you always wanted to do, and you did it?  Comment to enter into the Rafflecopter!

POHM Blurb:

Lorem Farcome makes inventions that cater to the working class. He dreams of a lost chance in love and a lost apprentice. The lost love he can do nothing about, but an apprentice, he can surely build. With a rare red prism, Lorem creates and animates his assistant, dubbing him “Pomh.” The road never runs smooth, and a wealthy and powerful competitor, Markus Reighn, accuses Lorem of stealing the red prism and claims Lorem’s mechanical man for himself. But an odd-looking

About Once Upon a Time in the Weird West Anthology

This isn’t the same old Wild West. The usual suspects are all present: cowboys, outlaws, and sheriffs. There’s plenty of dust, tumbleweeds, horses, and cattle on the range, but there are also magical gems, automatons, elementals, airships… even dinosaurs and genetically modified insects. Roaming among the buffalo and coyotes, you’ll encounter skinwalkers, mad engineers, mythical beings cloaked in darkness, and lovers who stay true to their oaths… even beyond the grave. On this frontier are those at the mercy of their own elaborate devices as well as men whose control of time and space provides a present-day vision of the West. There might even be a dragon hidden amongst the ghost towns and wagon trains.

If you like your Westerns with a splash of magic, a touch of steampunk, and plenty of passionate romance between men, these genre-bending tales will exceed expectations.

Hold on to your hats, cowboys and cowgirls. The West is about to get weird, and you’re in for a hell of a ride.

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About the Author

Venona Keyes is a modern woman who believes in doing it all; if doing it all is only in her head. She amazes people that she can be wholly unorganized yet pack a perfect carry on suitcase for a ten day trip to Paris. Ms. Keyes is a believer in the just in time theory, and can be seen sprinting in airports to the gate before the plane door closes.

Venona has experienced love and loss at the deepest level, and is thankful for writing and daydreaming, for it kept, and still keeps her sane. Writing also introduced her to some of the most supportive and wonderful people, to which she will always be grateful.

Venona is a voracious reader, loves her feline boys, volunteers at an animal shelter, attempts to cook everything in her CSA boxes, is an accomplished speaker, is a seasoned triathlete, and enjoys swimming, biking, hiking, skipping, dancing, and her beloved overgrown garden.

Social Media links

Website: http://www.venonakeyes.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/venona.keyes

Giveaway

1) Steam-punk inspired heart shaped pendant necklace

2) Title: The Trust,  Coming of Age, and All Steamed Up Anthology

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Blog Tour Schedule

12/6 – Gay Book Reviews – Jana Denardo

12/7 – The Novel Approach – Kim Fielding

12/8 – Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words – Venona Keyes

12/9 – Diverse Reader – Tali Spencer

Sinfully Gay MM Book Reviews – Jamie Fessenden

12/12 – Love Bytes – Lex Chase

12/13 – Boy Meets Boy – Astrid Amara

12/14 – Prism Book Alliance – Ginn Hale

12/15 – Alpha Book Club – C.S. Poe

12/16 – Joyfully Jay – Langley Hyde

12/19 – Divine Magazine – Nicole Kimberling

12/20 – My Fiction Nook – Shira Anthony

Open Skye – Andrew Q. Gordon