In the YA Spotlight: A Boy Worth Knowing by Jennifer Cosgrove (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  A Boy Worth Knowing

Author: Jennifer Cosgrove

Publisher:  NineStar Press – SunFire Imprint

Release Date: March 20

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 62200

Genre: Romance, Young Adult, NineStar Press, LGBT, gay, bisexual, romance, young adult, contemporary, paranormal, coming of age, ghosts, family drama, high school, bullying

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Synopsis

Ghosts can’t seem to keep their opinions to themselves.

Seventeen-year-old Nate Shaw should know; he’s been talking to them since he was twelve. But they aren’t the only ones making his high school years a living hell. All Nate wants is to keep his secret and keep his head down until he can graduate. That is, until the new boy, James Powell, takes a seat next to him in homeroom. James not only notices him, he manages to work his way into Nate’s life. But James has issues of his own.

Between dead grandmothers and living aunts, Nate has to navigate the fact that he’s falling in love with his only friend, all while getting advice from the most unusual places.

Ghosts, bullies, first love: it’s a lot to deal with when you’re just trying to survive senior year.

Excerpt

A Boy Worth Knowing
Jennifer Cosgrove © 2017
All Rights Reserved

I loved autumn mornings.

The October air was just cold enough to set my lungs on fire, my breath visible in clouds of condensation, forcing all of the crap clogging up my head into the recycle bin. Bonus, I could pretend I was a dragon. Nothing could touch me; my morning run made everything go away, lost in miles at a time. Down an isolated country road.

Everything changed when I was twelve, and not for the better. That was when I started running. Five years of road I’d put behind me. My mom worried about me the first time I took off alone. Well, when she used to worry about me. I wished she was more worried about the reason I was running instead of the fact I was doing it down an empty road.

I turned the corner about a mile after leaving home, and that was when I saw him. Samuel was always lurking among the sunken headstones. Most people had no clue there used to be a cemetery out there. Looking closely, some of the stones that made up the foundation of the chapel could still be seen. No one else ever paid that much attention to it. Samuel glared at me as I got closer. He was a surly one.

My life was like the horror movies I loved. I talked to the dead. Well, technically dead. They were really spirits, or whatever. Whatever was left behind when people died. And they talked to me, for some reason. There was nothing like sitting in math class and having a ghost whisper in my ear while trying to take notes.

It happened all the damn time. I didn’t know how to handle it at first. And no one wanted to hang out with the crazy kid in the back of the room, muttering away to himself. I got used to it. Really. And the lack of a social life helped me get all of my homework done on time; all of the teachers loved me. That was good. Talking to ghosts wasn’t all bad.

I waved at Samuel as I ran by the cemetery. He shook a fist at me in return. Samuel wasn’t evil or anything, just grumpy. Couldn’t blame him, though. I looked him up one time and found out he’d died in the late eighteen hundreds. The cause of death on record was a heart attack. But Samuel told me his brother-in-law had poisoned him because he wouldn’t sell him his prize mule. I had no clue what was so special about that mule, but his brother-in-law evidently thought it was worth killing him over. I’d have been pretty surly myself.

Past the forgotten cemetery, a few miles to the McGregor farm, and then I’d swing around for home. Yes, I said McGregor farm. Small-town life— I couldn’t have made this stuff up if I’d tried.

There was another house just past the farm where I had to watch out for their beast of a dog. Dogs weren’t huge fans of mine. My Nana had a theory they could sense a bit of whatever it was that let us chat with those who’d “passed on.” I had no idea how that was even possible, but cats loved me, so yay.

Speaking of which, Aunt Susan’s overly fluffy cat waited by our mailbox. Arthur did that every time I went out for a run. He would sit there and then fall in behind to follow up the driveway until we got to the house. Then, it was a shady spot on the porch in the summer or, if it was cold like that day, into the house in front of the fireplace. I loved predictability.

The house used to be my grandmother’s. It was a standard farmhouse, old and creaky just like dozens more all around us, and it could have stood a little paint. But we called it home, and we liked it. It became Aunt Susan’s home. It had been left to her after Nana died, since my mom already owned one. It was a little out of the way and a long drive to the hospital where my aunt worked. But it was paid for, and that meant a lot.

I had to be quiet going in because Aunt Susan was not a morning person, and the floor squeaked just inside the back door. I was very much a morning person, and I followed the same routine each school or work day. Flipping on the coffee maker, I headed to my room to get ready for school. I got the shower running, since it took a while to heat up in an old farmhouse, and took a sniff to make sure a shower was actually necessary. Oh, yeah. I was gross.

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Meet the Author

Jennifer has always been a voracious reader and a well-established geek from an early age. She loves comics, movies, and anything that tells a compelling story.

When not writing, she likes knitting, dissecting/arguing about movies with her husband, and enjoying the general chaos that comes with having kids.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads | eMail

Tour Schedule

3/20 – My Fiction Nook

3/20 – Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

3/20 – Just Love

3/21 – Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews

3/21 – Diverse Reader

3/21 – Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents

3/22 – V’s Reads

3/22 – Molly Lolly

3/22 – MM Good Book Reviews

3/23 – Liz’s Reading Life

3/23 – Stories That Make You Smile

3/23 – Dog-Eared Daydreams

3/24 – Bayou Book Junkie

3/24 – Boy Meets Boy Reviews

3/24 – Love Bytes Reviews

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In the Science Fiction Spotlight: Ardulum: First Don by J.S. Fields (exclusive excerpt)

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Ardulum: First Don by J.S. Fields
Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: February 27
Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34109678-ardulum

Purchase Links

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host J.S. Fields today on tour with Ardulum: First Don.

Synopsis

 

Ardulum. The planet that vanishes. The planet that sleeps.

Neek makes a living piloting the dilapidated tramp transport, Mercy’s Pledge, and smuggling questionable goods across systems blessed with peace and prosperity. She gets by—but only just. In her dreams, she is still haunted by thoughts of Ardulum, the traveling planet that, long ago, visited her homeworld. The Ardulans brought with them agriculture, art, interstellar technology…and then disappeared without a trace, leaving Neek’s people to worship them as gods.

Neek does not believe—and has paid dearly for it with an exile from her home for her heretical views.

Yet, when the crew stumbles into an armed confrontation between the sheriffs of the Charted Systems and an unknown species, fate deals Neek an unexpected hand in the form of a slave girl—a child whose ability to telepathically manipulate cellulose is reminiscent of that of an Ardulan god. Forced to reconcile her beliefs, Neek chooses to protect her, but is the child the key to her salvation, or will she lead them all to their deaths?

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex
Pairing: Female/Female
Length: 83500

Genre: Literary Fiction, Science Fiction, NineStar Press, LGBT, lesbian, bisexual, space opera, aliens, bonded, captivity, coming of age, criminals, kidnapping, pilot, religion, science, slow burn, smugglers, space, spaceships, telekinesis, telepathyExcerpt

 

Ardulum: First Don
J.S. Fields © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

 

Exclusive Excerpt

In this excerpt, Neek, the pilot of the tramp transport Mercy’s Pledge, stumbles into a battle between the supposed sheriffs of the Charted Systems, and an unknown alien species. This is a significant event, because the Systems have been at peace, absolute peace, for years, so conflict of this magnitude is unheard of. Something is clearly of value on the Risalian ship, and crew of the Pledge are about to have that ‘something’ dumped into their laps.

“Get those skiffs off our tail!” Captain Yorden Kuebrich yelled as Neek rounded the corner.

She looked out the viewscreen just in time to see the Pledge—her engines dead—exit the Callis Wormhole into the middle of a much-unexpected dogfight. A wedge-shaped Risalian skiff zipped past the Pledge, catching the edge of the ship on its wing, and started her into a slow spin. A pod, deep purple and about half the size of the skiff, chased the skiff and grazed their starboard flank. Neek braced herself against the console and heard Yorden tumble into the wall behind her, his substantial girth denting the aluminum.

Mentally cursing the ship’s poor artificial gravity, Neek launched herself into the pilot’s chair, grabbed the yoke, and scoured the latest damage report. “Aft stabilizer is shot,” she called out after checking the computer. Other skiffs near them suddenly swooped back into a larger group, and the Pledge was, for the moment, left alone. Neek released the yoke and let her fingers move deftly over the interface. “Those new spray-on cellulose binders for the hull are holding, but only just. What’s left of the Minoran armor plating is now officially cracked beyond repair.”

She swiveled to see the captain buckling himself into a much larger version of her own chair. His brown hair puffed about his head, per usual, but his body language spoke of surprise and tension. That concerned Neek because Yorden was old enough to have lived through actual conflicts. If anyone knew how to react in a situation like this, it was him.

“Were we just attacked?” she asked incredulously. Neek took a closer look out the viewscreen. The rectangular cutter that sparkled with pinpricks of light and the wedge-shaped, agile skiffs were Risalian. The pods—both the smaller purple ones and the frigate-sized, maroon ones—were unfamiliar. Their formations were just as strange, stacked in columns like stones on a riverbank instead of in pyrimidal and spherical formations like Systems ships would. “Are those all Charted Systems ships?”

Yorden threw up his hands in disgust. “They’re not just Charted Systems ships—they’re Risalian ships. The cutter and skiffs are, anyway. No clue on the pods. What those blue-skinned bastards are doing out here with fully weaponized ships, I can only guess. However, they’re firing lasers. If we lose our armor and take a hit from any of those, we are space dust.”

“Comforting,” Neek mumbled. She hadn’t noticed the laser ports on any of the ships, but now that she looked closer, all of the vessels were covered with armor plating and had at least two laser turrets each.

Neek continued to watch as the pods begin to cluster around a Risalian cutter. A pod ship zipped beneath the cutter, firing wildly at its underside, before making a quick right turn and heading back to a larger pod. Five others followed suit. The cutter’s shielding began to splinter, but the ship remained where it was.

Neek leaned towards the viewscreen, still unsure what she was seeing. “The Risalian ships aren’t chasing, they’re just defending. What is going on? If they’re going to appoint themselves sheriffs of the Charted Systems, they could at least fight back.”

Yorden smacked his hand against the wall, loosing a shower of dust. “Something on that Risalian ship is holding their attention. Get us out of here, before either of them gets any closer.” He pointed to a cluster of ships to Neek’s right, and her eyes followed. Little flashes of bright light sparked and then died intermittently as ships were destroyed, their flotsam creating an ever-expanding ring. A large piece of metal plating floated past the Pledge’s port window. The edge caught and left a thin scratch in the fiberglass as it slid off.

“What are they protecting that is so damn important?” Neek wondered out loud and then snorted. “Something worth more than our hold full of diamond rounds and cellulose-laced textiles?” she added cheekily.

Scowling, Yorden pushed Neek’s hand away from the computer and began his own scan of the Pledge’s systems. “Communications are still up, but I don’t think either party is listening right now.” Frustrated, he kicked the underside of the console. “Try one of them. Better than being crushed.”

“Captain, come on. We are dead in space. If another one comes at us, why don’t we just fire at it? It’s better than being rammed.” She pointed upwards at a circular hole in the ceiling. “What’s the benefit of flying a ship so ancient it falls apart if you’re not taking advantage of the grandfathered weapons system?”

 

Meet the Author

 

Author Links

 

Website: http://www.chlorociboria.com/

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/galactoglucoman

eMail: chlorociboria@gmail.com

 

Tour Schedule

 

2/27 – Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews – http://wickedfaeriesreviews.blogspot.com

2/27 – Books,Dreams,Life – http://staceyschneller06.wordpress.com

2/28 – Molly Lolly; Reader, Reviewer, Lover of Words – https://mollylollyauthor.wordpress.com

3/1 – Queer Sci Fi – https://queerscifi.com/

3/1 – Celticlady’s Reviews – http://www.celticladysreviews.blogspot.com

3/2 – Fangirl Moments and My Two Cent – http://fangirlmomentsandmytwocents.blogspot.com

3/3 – Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words – https://scatteredthoughtsandroguewords.com/

3/4 – Love Bytes Reviews – http://lovebytesreviews.com/

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Giveaway

One lucky winner will receive an ebook of their choice from NineStar Press
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A Lila Review: The Impossible Boy by Anna Martin

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Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

the-impossible-boyThis is not your average love story.

Ben Easton is not your average romantic hero. He’s a tattooed, badass, wannabe rock star, working in a perfectly horrible dive bar in Camden Town. His life is good, and he’s totally unprepared for how one man will turn it upside down.

Stan isn’t your average heroine. As a gender-fluid man, he proudly wears his blond hair long, his heels sky-high, and his makeup perfectly executed. A fashion industry prodigy, Stan is in London after stints working in Italy and New York City, and he quickly falls for Ben’s devil-may-care attitude and the warm, soft heart Ben hides behind it.

Beneath the perfect, elegant exterior, Stan has plenty of scars from teenage battles with anorexia. And it only takes the slightest slip for his demons to rush back in while Ben is away touring with his band. With the band on the brink of a breakthrough, Ben is forced to find a way to balance the opportunity of a lifetime with caring for his beautiful boyfriend.

The Impossible Boy is more than a romance. It’s the story of a young man adjusting back into life when dealing with anorexia. And how his sexuality, love life, and career were affected by it–before and after. It can be considered a coming of age novel set in London.

The book is divided into two parts. The first sixty-four percent is more of an introduction to Stan’s and Ben’s life and romance. I’d have been okay if the book ended there. Not that the rest isn’t worth it, but the second part felt like an addition or a longer view to a well-established relationship.

We spent a lot of time experiencing the story as Stan. And perhaps, that’s one of the reasons I find a disconnected between the two parts of the story. Almost like he blocked us from what was really happening, just like he was doing with the rest of the world. But by the end of the story, it’s easy to see that we were indeed blocked. It was part of Stan’s coping mechanism and we need to understand it like Ben had to.

The amount of detail in the story could be a bit overwhelming, but just like Stan, it was like learning more about the country, new people, and himself. One thing I appreciated was how the symptoms of Stan’s anorexia were presented as part of his personality, and not as a checklist to diagnose his medical condition.

This story is mostly sweet. It has a very young adult feel even when the main characters are older than what’s expected. There’s a slow burn that becomes love making; never fucking. They go on dates, spend time together, talk about work, and hang around with friends. The topics discussed are serious but there’s not a lot of angst. If not for Stan’s anorexia, this could be a fairytale romance.

All the secondary characters are great. The bandmates acted as normal young people trying to get into the spotlight. They’re not perfect, but they do work well together. They look out for each other and are a family. I do need to accept that my favorite character in the book was Tone, not the MCs. He’s more than Ben’s & Stan’s best friend, he’s the reason they understand each other. Plus, he’s lovely.

Overall, this is a good read. Just be sure you’re looking for something more than a simple romance story. It’s slow-paced and some of the switches between scenes can be quite abrupt, but it brings the story together in the end.

The cover by Garrett Leigh is beautiful. It fits Stan perfectly, not only physically, but emotionally.

Sale Links: Dreamspinner | Amazon | Nook

ebook, 204 pages
Published: January 17, 2017, Dreamspinner Press (Perchance to Dream)
ASIN: 1635332052 (ISBN13: 9781635332056)
Edition Language: English

 

Riptide Tour: Angel Voices by Rowan Speedwell (giveaway)

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Angel Voices by Rowan Speedwell
R
iptide Publishing
Cover  art by L.C. Chase

Read an Excerpt/Buy It Here

 

 

About Angel Voices

One frigid winter night a week before Christmas, college student Will stumbles into a church during choir practice, bruised by his own father’s hands. He’s out of the closet now—there’s no going back since his fundamentalist father learned the truth—but he’s also out of a home, a family, and a future. Will has nowhere to turn. No one to care.

Except . . . Will’s roommate, Quinn, cares. Maybe too much. He’s been attracted to Will since they moved in together, but never dreamed his crush was gay. With Will’s life in pieces, Quinn doesn’t want to push. He also knows he has more experience than Will, who’s never even been kissed.

Then Will’s father makes a reappearance, and Will has to learn to trust his heart more than the voices of his past. But it’s the season of miracles, faith, and hope, and Quinn is determined to teach Will how to love and be loved.

Available from Riptide Publishing. 

About Rowan Speedwell

An unrepentant biblioholic, Rowan Speedwell spends half her time pretending to be a law librarian, half her time pretending to be a database manager, half her time pretending to be a fifteenth-century Aragonese noblewoman, half her time . . . wait a minute . . .  Hmm.  Well, one thing she doesn’t pretend to be is good at math.  She is good at pretending, though.

In her copious spare time (hah) she does needlework, calligraphy and illumination, and makes jewelry.  She has a master’s degree in history from the University of Chicago, is a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism, and lives in a Chicago suburb with the obligatory Writer’s Cat and way too many books.

Connect with Rowan:

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Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Angel Voices, one lucky winner will receive $15 in Riptide Publishing credit! Leave a comment with a thoughtful question and your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on December 3, 2016. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

Release Day Blitz for You Are Not Me (’90s Coming of Age, #2) by Leta Blake (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: You Are Not Me

Series: ’90s Coming of Age, #2

Author: Leta Blake

Publisher: Leta Blake Books

Release Date: 11/28/2016

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 100,000 words

Genre: New Adult, coming of age

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Synopsis

Follow Peter into the summer following his senior year to face new beginnings, new friends, and old baggage.

After a tumultuous final year of high school, Peter Mandel needs a break. It’s the summer of 1991, and his secret relationship with his ‘best friend’ Adam Algedi is put on hold as Adam goes away to Italy for the summer. On the cusp of adulthood, Peter has a couple of months to explore who he is without Adam at his side.

Enter Daniel McPeak, a slightly older, out, responsible college guy with a posse of gay friends and an attraction for Peter. Drawn into the brave new world of the local gay club, Peter embarks on a whirlwind of experiences—good and bad—which culminate in a hotel room where he has to make the ultimate choice.

But Adam will come back eventually, and there are promises that have to be kept. As autumn draws near and college awaits, can Peter break free of the binds of twisted first love? And what exactly is Daniel’s role in his life – a brief temptation, or something more?

Join Peter in the second book of this four-part coming of age series as he struggles to love and be loved, and grow into a gay man worthy of his own respect.

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This new series by Leta Blake is gay fiction with romantic elements.

Book 2 of 4.
Length: 100,000 words, 328 pages

These books contain aspects of: New Adult fiction, ‘90s gay life, small city homosexual experiences, Southern biases, sexual exploration, romance, homophobia, bisexuality, and twisted-up young love. Oh, and a guaranteed happy ending for the main character by the end of Book 4.

Excerpt

The stool next to me wasn’t empty for long. Minty dropped onto it, his purple tutu rubbing against my chinos and his thin, white arms curled up to rest on the bar. He stared at me for a long, curious second. “I’ve met you before, right?”

“Yeah.” I shook off my disappointment and gave him my attention. “Last spring, up on campus.”

“Did we fuck?”

I almost choked on my soda. “No.”

“Right.” Minty frowned. “Did I suck you off?”

I stared at him.

“Well?”

“My car was broken down,” I said slowly. “Daniel helped me.”

Minty grinned. “Oh, right! I remember now. You looked amazing that night. Made of moonbeams. Everyone was made of moonbeams.” He tilted his head. “You look all right now too.”

“Thanks?”

Minty laughed and fluffed his tutu. He turned away from me to hammer his fists on the bar. “Jolly Zima, Barry! Watermelon! Hit me!”

Barry rolled his eyes, but he pulled a Zima out from the fridge and popped the lid, then reached under the counter and came out with a watermelon Jolly Rancher, unwrapped it, and dropped it into the drink. Minty slapped three dollars down and took a dainty sip.

“Ah! Perfection!” He turned to me with his eyelashes lowered flirtatiously. “Anyway, back to what you were saying. We haven’t fucked yet?”

Startled, nervous laughter bubbled out of my mouth.

“Minty,” Barry said. “Drink your Zima and leave Peter alone.”

“Sure thing. You’re the boss.” Minty sighed and leaned toward me conspiratorially. “He won’t fuck me either. What’s a girl gotta do these days? I mean, I look good, don’t I?”

I looked him over—white, though scuffed, ballet slippers, purple tutu, toned, pale, lithe arms, and his made-up face. “Sure. You look really pretty.”

Minty grinned. “Aw, you know how to make a girl feel nice.”

“Didn’t I just see you downstairs with two guys, though?”

“Two? Please. That’s just a warm-up.” He sniffed.

Renée appeared at my side, dropping an arm around my shoulder. “Minty, doll baby, I need you backstage in an hour. You’re my naughty boy tonight.”

“Okay, but I want to wear my tutu.”

“You’ll be gorgeous.” Renée grabbed hold of Minty’s face and looked him over. “We need to put some eyelashes on you too.”

“And red lipstick.”

“Yes! Every man in this room will ache to be in that pert ass of yours.” She glanced at me and then back at Minty. “Except Peter here.”

“He catches?” Minty asked.

“Like Johnny Bench, baby.”

I didn’t like my positional preferences being discussed like it was any of their business, but I was mystified that Renée seemed so certain about it. Was there something about me that screamed loves it up the ass?

“How do you know who Johnny Bench is, woman?” Barry handed Renée a milky-looking drink topped with brown liquor.

“I listen!”

“I’ve never mentioned baseball to you and you know it.”

“Of course not. You’d never do that to me. Earl at Ringo Comics, though, he babbles on and on about it when he’s trying not to come. Earl says I catch like a pro.” She patted her ass.

Daniel was right last spring when he said Robert and Renée were the same but different people. Robert could be sassy and forthright about his sexual shenanigans, but raunchy details rarely left his mouth. My face burned.

“Hear, hear!” Minty cried, throwing back his head to draw a long swig from his Zima.

Barry frowned. It was the first time I’d seen Barry look even moderately unhappy about Renée—or Robert’s—indiscretions.

“What?” Renée asked defensively.

“Earl’s positive.” Barry’s gaze bore into her. “You used a condom?”

“Of course!” Renée licked her lips and shifted nervously to her other foot, her hip cocking out. “I always do. You know that.”

Minty bit his purple-painted thumbnail, eyes going distant. “I’m probably positive. I should get tested. My mom wants me to get tested.”

Barry nailed Minty and Renée with a frustrated glare. He reached under the counter and pulled out two condoms. Then his gaze shifted to me and he pulled out a third. “For fuck’s sake, use these. Every time. Every damn time.”

Renée stuffed the condom in her bra. Minty held it up in front of his face and then gave it a kiss before lifting up his tutu to tuck it into the waistband of his white briefs. Nodding, I pocketed the one Barry handed to me, even though I wasn’t going to need it. Adam was in Italy and the casual sex Minty and Renée played with was something I’d never risk.

Breaking the tension, the two guys Minty and Daniel had come upstairs with shoved into the space between us, ordering beers from Barry and slinging their arms around Minty’s shoulders or Renée’s waist.

“Who’s this?” asked the muscular, olive-toned one, dropping a kiss on Minty’s upturned cheek.

“Peter,” Minty said sweetly, like I was a cat he was fond of. “He knows Renée, Barry, and Daniel.”

“Ah.” The guy was handsome with bedroom eyes. Dark circles smudged beneath them, as if he’d just left a fistfight or he’d been crying his eyes out. Both thoughts twisted something up in me, a hand grabbing my heart and squeezing for a second. He looked like he needed a hug.

Minty caught me staring up at his friend. “He’s smarter than he looks,” he said, out of the blue, and I blinked in confusion. “And he likes to kiss more than fuck.”

“Okay?” I had no idea why Minty was telling me this.

“Oh, and he’s a big pussy cat when he’s in love.”

“Is he your boyfriend?”

“What?” Minty looked scandalized. “Of course not. That’s gross.” He grinned slyly. “He could be your boyfriend, though.”

I shook my head, and Minty laughed.

“Name’s Antonio,” the guy said, sticking out his hand. “Ignore him. He’s always trying to set me up with pretty bottoms. I keep telling him I’m not a top.”

Minty rolled his eyes. “You have to be a top. Have you looked in the mirror? Those eyes? That mouth? Your tough-guy pout? C’mon. Fuck me.”

Antonio sighed. “I only like to stick it in chicks. I’ve told you.” He tugged their Asian friend a little closer. “This one’s the top.”

I gulped club soda, unsure how to deal with a conversation with complete strangers about who liked what about butt sex.

“I forget you’re bisexual,” Minty said archly to Antonio. “You never bring girls around.”

Antonio snorted. “I love eating pussy, but nothing beats a cock up my ass.”

“Cheers!” Minty cried, toasting the sentiment.

Antonio went on. “Sometimes a man’s gotta make a choice about what he wants to pursue in life, and, well, I’m chasing dick.”

“Can’t blame you for that, man,” Barry said, nodding.

Minty grabbed their Asian friend’s tie and pulled him down close, saying to me, “This is Windy. With an ‘i’ in the middle and a ‘y’ on the end. And he tops like a champ.”

Windy kissed Minty’s cheek and winked at me.

Minty’s eyes narrowed. “Don’t ask where he’s from, it pisses him off.”

“Why would I ask him that?” I said, confused.

“People always want to know. ‘Are you from Japan? Or China?’” Minty rolled his eyes. “He’s from Vietnam.”

Windy shoved Minty hard enough to unseat him from his stool. “I’m from Kentucky, asshole.”

I sipped my club soda. “Kentucky’s nice. Horse farms. Bluegrass.”

Windy laughed.

Once Minty had righted himself, he gripped my shoulder and whisper-yelled into my ear, “Windy’s basically my best friend besides Daniel. We only fucked once.”

Windy corrected him again. “Twice, actually.”

“That’s how I know for sure he’s a great top. You should try him.”

“Um, no. Thank you. I’m good,” I babbled.

Windy laughed at me and then swept in and gave Minty a wet kiss on the mouth. I wasn’t sure if there was tongue or not. Breaking away, Windy grabbed Minty’s Zima and took a swallow from it.

“So, Minty and Windy, are those your real names?” I asked.

“Is your real name Peter?” Minty asked, his eyes narrowed.

“Yes?”

“Well, aren’t you lucky then?” He tossed head, lifted his hand dramatically, and Windy pulled him up from the stool. “To the dance floor!” He grabbed hold of my arm and tugged me up too. “Let’s show this crowd what gorgeous bitches we are!”

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Meet the Author

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Author of the bestselling book Smoky Mountain Dreams and fan favorite Training Season, Leta Blake’s educational and professional background is in psychology and finance, respectively. However, her passion has always been for writing. She enjoys crafting romance stories and exploring the psyches of made up people. At home in the Southern U.S., Leta works hard at achieving balance between her day job, her writing, and her family.

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A Jeri Review: A Good Enough Reason by C.M. Lievens

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Rating: 4 Stars out of 5

A Good Enough ReasonComing of age/teenage romance stories can be tough. Too much can be….icky, but not enough leaves you wanting so much more. Just as teenagers skate a fine line between being children and adults, stories based on them can skate that line as well. But this book did that really well.

Ellis is your typical nerdy loner with one friend. Well, he had two but one of them moved away.  Dale is Mr. Jock Popularity in school. We all knew him, that guy that everyone loved and he loved everyone back. So when Ellis and Dale are paired together for an English topic to debate for and against a topic, Dale thinks he is being cool by suggesting they debate if gay teens should get the same perks as straight teens as far as prom goes. Ellis assumes Dale is mocking him and it takes a while to convince Ellis that even though he is popular, Dale is a good guy. He even wants to find him a prom date.

Dale and Ellis grow closer, with Dale pushing the boundaries of friendship. And while this could have come off as supremely cocky of him, it didn’t. He genuinely seemed like a kid who wanted to explore his bisexuality with someone he not only considered a friend, but someone he was really attracted to.

Ellis is wary, but doesn’t throw up walls of “stay away seemingly straight dude”! He has a sounding board in his friend who moved away and best friend who is witnessing it all.

The author also does an amazing job of dealing with bullying. Not only how easily and often it happens, but how it is so overlooked by teachers. They just don’t take it seriously until it goes too far. And usually the person being bullied doesn’t want to come out and say anything because ultimately that makes the bullying worse. One scene, which I will call “the locker incident”, when Ellis is just dumbfounded that he is getting in trouble for something that happened TO him, I was heartbroken. Because it happens every.single.day.

This was a really great young adult romance story with a lot of meat to it. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would actually love to read more about Dale and Ellis.

Cover art by Bree Archer is lovely and works for the story.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | ARe | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 220 pages
Published May 23rd 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634772520 (ISBN13: 9781634772525)
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Free Dreamer Review: My Magical Palace by Kunal Mukherjee

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5     ★★★★★

My Magical PalaceHaunted by dreams of an unforgettable loss, Rahul, a young man of thirty living in San Francisco, suddenly becomes secretive and withdraws from his partner Andrew. When Andrew discovers that Rahul is still interviewing girls sent by his parents for an arranged marriage, he gives Rahul an ultimatum-stop living a lie, or give up their relationship. In response, Rahul tells Andrew a story. About a boy who lived in a palace. A boy named Rahul. Set in San Francisco today and in India in the early 1970s, My Magical Palace is a sensitive tale about a boy’s coming of age, and the many hurdles he must cross to heal and find himself.

I’ve been fascinated by India ever since I got my hands on an old copy of “Kim” by Rudyard Kipling when I was nine or ten. So when I read the blurb of “My Magical Palace”, I just had to have it.

First of all, this is not a love story. It’s a coming of age story, with just a tiny hint of romance. Of course there’s the first love and Rahul is in a relationship when he starts telling his story, but those are just two of many important details about Rahul’s story.

Rahul, a young man who grew up in India and now lives with his boyfriend in America. He isn’t out to his parents, so when they once again send him a woman that they think would make a great wife, he asks Andrew to leave the apartment for the evening. Andrew is understandably pissed and threatens to dump Rahul, if he doesn’t come out to his parents right now. So Rahul starts telling the story of the year that changed his life. How he slowly turned from the little boy who was afraid to go upstairs, because his older sister told him there were ghosts at the top of the stairs, to the mature teenager, who has to keep his sexuality hidden and who has lost so many things in such a short time that it changed him forever.

I absolutely loved every single second of this book. The descriptions were so vivid, I felt like I’d seen the palace with my own eyes. It sounds like such a beautiful place. The author managed to describe everything in great detail, without it ever getting boring or feeling like an info-dump.

The Indian setting was incredibly well written. If you aren’t very familiar with the Indian culture, you’ll be hitting Google a lot. The author doesn’t bother to explain things like food or clothes and even though I didn’t know a lot of those things, I loved that. Explanations like that tend to pull me out of a story and I don’t mind if I don’t just what they’re eating. The author grew up in Hyderabad and it’s obvious that he really knows what he’s writing about from personal experience and not just from research.

I was so engrossed in Rahul’s world that I felt a bit of a culture shock every time I was forced to surface from his story and found myself in cold, monotonous Europe.

Rahul was immediately likeable. It was very easy to relate to him, even though his life is nothing like my own. I felt strongly for pretty much every somewhat important character in this book. I was at times deliriously happy, utterly depressed, incredibly pressured and absolutely terrified. Once or twice I was even close to tears.

The plot was addicting and unpredictable. I wasn’t sure whether Rahul and Andrew would actually manage to rescue their relationship till the very last chapter. Rahul’s childhood was full of unexpected twists and turns and it never once got boring.

But “My Magical Palace” is so much more than just a deeply enjoyable novel. It has taught me a lot about the life of gay men in India. I’ve read plenty of books about women in India, but this is the first one with a gay protagonist.  It was very educating, but it never felt like the author was trying to force me to learn something.

I do have one very tiny niggle, however. Everybody gets their resolution in the end. Everybody but Rani. We never learn what happened to the grown up Rani. I would’ve loved to know if she managed to escape the strict expectations her family and tradition put on her.

Long story short, “My Magical Palace” is a hidden gem that deserves a huge audience. Read it and I’m sure you’ll agree with me.

And now I want a story about Rahul’s neighbour Colonel Uncle and his Italian lover. Colonel Uncle was my favourite character and his story needs to be told.

Cover: I love the cover. The bottom half shows Rahul’s childhood home, the Indian palace, and the top half shows the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Rahul’s home as an adult.

Sales Links:  Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 236 pages
Published November 17th 2013 by Kunal Mukherjee, Inc. (first published 2012)
ASINB00GQOM2RS
edition languageEnglish
literary awardsBest Indian debut Writer December 2012 by The Tales Pensieve (2012)

A MelanieM Review: John & Jackie by T.J. Klune

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

John & Jackie coverFor seventy one years, Jackie and John have been inseparable.  They met in class as 12 year olds and formed a bond and love that has only gotten deeper and stronger as the years  passed.  But now all that is about to change.  John’s body is riddled with cancer, his pain unbearable.  And he has asked Jackie to give him the ultimate gift of love and compassion.

As the two men wait for dusk, the moments are passed in recollections of their long abiding love, a love that has no boundaries, not even death.

Well, I was unable to even get through the synopsis of this incredibly moving story without tears.  John & Jackie is an eloquent and deeply emotional story of a love that has endured through the years.  Jackie and John meet as children in school.  Neither one is particularly popular, each with their own “stigma” that makes them targets and standouts.  Drawn together immediately, they forge a bond first of  an indelible  friendship that turns into love.  Jackie and John’s need to protect the other is formed right from the start.

We learn this through Jackie’s memories as he sits by John’s bedside waiting for dusk and the time they will say goodbye. Jackie wheels John’s medical bed through the front doors of their cabin that John built out onto the porch to watch for dusk and hold hands one last time.  Hands clutched as tightly as John’s illness will let them, Jackie reminiscences with John over their time together.

TJ Klune portrays these men and their long partnership realistically and with great understanding for types of experiences that a true “Jackie and John” might have gone through as children and as adults.  John is such a strong, poignant character with an upbringing that includes the stigma of being poor and an alcoholic,abusive father.  His need is only for Jackie, that is his world and we can  totally understand the basis for that isolation. A isolation that doesn’t work for Jackie who came from a loving family and a need for others. For Jackie, the world needs to be a little larger and the subsequent misunderstandings that brings rings authentic and heartbreaking.  Jackie’s character is a wonderful complement to John’s, his yin to John’s yang.  Klune makes us believe in their bond with a sureness and brevity that is wondrous.

What is so remarkable about this story is the fullness and complexity of their long term relationship is relayed through small  recollections and bits of shared history while the men wait together for the sun to fall.  This book could have easily extended to over 300 pages but TJ Klune manages to pull us into Jackie and John’s life and love in half that length and make it feel real and deep and unforgettable.

As we and the characters wait for dusk to fall on their  life together, be prepared for the tears to start falling.  It has taken almost no time for us to fall for these men and as the story moves towards it’s gut wrenching conclusion, we will be their heartbroken companions as witness.  But TJ Klune has one more thing in store,..for us and Jackie and John before their story is over.  I love the ending and hope you will too.  This is a story about a never ending love and that ending brought that home.  Pick up this remarkable story and delve into Jackie and John’s romance for the ages.

Cover art by Reese Dante.  Poignant, perfect, and one of the top covers this year.

Sales Links:       Dreamspinner Press            All Romance eBook (ARe)        Amazon                    John & Jackie

 

Book Details;

ebook, 2nd, 122 pages
Published July 25th 2014 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781627988551
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://www.dreamspinnerpress.com

Review: The Blight by Missouri Dalton

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Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

The Blight coverNoah Abbott is the only one who knows he isn’t crazy.  He knows what he saw all those years ago when he was a younger was real just as he knows the fantastical beings, the trolls and the goblins he sees walking around him unnoticed are too.  The trouble is no one else sees them.  Just Noah.  And that fact got him a trip and long stay in a psychiatric ward when he was 16 and Noah’s not going there again.  Now Noah keeps his head down and his eyes to the ground, he works in a box factory doing menial work for menial wages, and he says nothing to anyone.

Then things slowly start to change.  One of his coworkers, Christian, follow citizen on the outskirts of society, takes an interest in him, one that goes far past friendship into that of potential lover, new ground for a virgin like Noah.  And a young woman, Hannah Regent, approaches him and asks for help.  Turns out she sees the trolls and goblins too and needs Noah to help fight them off and keep her safe.

And with Hannah’s appearance, Noah’s reality is shattered.  Turns out he’s an elf on the run. Hannah too.  And that monster he saw all those years ago?  Well, that monstrous troll is back and hunting them both.  With  a Goblin King,to aid them, Noah and Hannah flee to another  universe, one that is their home.  There awaits a mighty quest for Noah, and the fate of all the elves hangs in the balance. But Noah isn’t sure he is up to the challenge.

Wow, what a story.  It has been several days since I finished this book and I am still trying to decide how I feel about it.  Missouri Dalton brings a number of intriguing and thought provoking elements to this story of a “Magpie” child. Noah has been hidden in the human world to protect him (and Hannah) until he can be found and returned to his rightful place as one of the remaining elven royalty.  But that world, Noah’s  “human world”, is that of most people’s nightmares.  He sees things.  Awful things that do harm to others and they are coming for him.  A basic bump in the dark  nightmare that explodes into reality for Noah only no one believes him.  Dalton plays further into our fears by having Noah confined to a less than desirable  psychiatric ward for years, abandoned by family and friends.    This element of the story is so artfully conceived and accomplished that it kept me up thinking for hours on end.

The Noah that is let out of the ward after learning to “play the game” is a person that anyone might meet on the streets today.  Head down, eyes averted, trying to stay as inconspicuous as possible.  His posture is exactly that of a person recently released from a mental institution.  That has also been his persona at work, a box factory that is one of the few places willing to hire excons and the mentally unstable.  Again Dalton has found the perfect setting for Noah and his post “crazy ward” life.  Her descriptions of Noah’s job and coworkers is grounded in the reality of such workplaces and it plays out that way in the story too.

Noah is such an interesting character because he is such a dichotomy himself.  A fake human, a false past, a newly reclaimed elf who just happens to be young by elven standards, a elf teen going through pubescence, it all throws Noah through the proverbial emotional and mental loop until he is not sure who he really is.  Is he a hero?  A virgin turned slut by his own Elvish pheromones?  It is a tumultuous journey that Dalton takes both Noah, now Neiren and the reader on.  Trust me when I say its not a real enjoyable journey, nor are some of the situations and events that happen along the way.

One issue I had with The Blight is that the multiple romances were all too new and shallow to become as meaningful as they needed to be.  Noah/Neiren is a highly charged hormonal elf, new to sex and possibly love.  And he behaves just like you think such a character would.  He is promiscuous, conflicted about love and relationships as well as what is truly acceptable behavior now that he is an elf once more.  So much of human morality has been ingrained in his mind and emotions but that has nothing to do with his current and true reality and quite naturally Noah/Neiren is having problems adjusting.   I thought the author did a great job in making Noah’s dilemma real but those readers who have issues with multiple sexual partners (m/m, potential m/m/m, m/f, m/?) as well as what might be seen as “cheating” will feel uncomfortable with these elements.

And the same can be said about the deaths that occur within the story as well.  They happen fast and the events that follow leave little room for grieving.  I think most readers will be shocked and hurt by these deaths.  We won’t see them coming and neither do the characters making their impact on all of us genuine and  pain filled.

There is something here to upset everyone.  Main character deaths, deaths of beloved characters,  characters behaving badly, polyamorous relationships (no one on one relationships here), and finally maybe a happy for now ending.  Missouri Dalton gives the reader instance after instance of moments and events that will have the reader wanting to put this book down and walk away.

And that would be a mistake.

Because as put out as all of above items will make you, there is also so much substance and wonder to be found here as well. The magic of the Goblin Kingdom, and the Goblin King himself.  The grotto of lost elves, shaking mountains and black dragons, its all here too. I can’t call this story heartwarming because its not.  But it has so much to recommend it, the lovely descriptions of magical place hidden away from our mundane human society, and all the beings trying to survive a calamitous time of war and race death.  The scope of this story and the descriptions make it worth your while to pick it up and decide for yourself.

For me, it was worth the journey.  Here is a taste of how it all starts:

“Noah Abbott, this court has found you incompetent and your parents have decided it is to your benefit to give over guardianship to the state of California. It is the decision of this court that you are to be remanded into the custody of the St. George Psychiatric Hospital until your twenty-first birthday, upon which time you will be re-examined for mental fitness.”

She banged her gavel down. “Court is adjourned.”

I felt the shock of it run over me; it was like being hit by a truck. As I’d been hit by a truck, I was able to make this comparison with some accuracy.

“I’m not crazy, I know what I saw! I am not crazy!”

“Bailiff, please remove Mr. Abbott.”

The men took my arms to take me away; I jerked in their grips, and my tired body protested.

“I know what I saw! I know what I saw!”

The bailiff and his friend dragged me out of the courtroom.

“I know what I saw!” I screamed, my voice hoarse. “I know what I saw!”

That cover illustration by BS Clay is magical.  I love it and think it is one of the best of the year.

Book Details:

ebook, 192 pages / 53000 words
Published September 11th 2013 by Torquere Press
ISBN 1610405714 (ISBN13: 9781610405713)
edition language English