January 2014 Summary of Books Reviewed

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Winter trees longs

The new years has started with an explosion of wonderful books and new authors for me.  SE Jakes and two of her marvelous series dropped into my hands and heart so I will be passing those recommendations on to you.  SA McAuley released a new contemporary fiction novel, Treadmarks and Trademarks, the start of a new series.  Ditto Susan Laine with her Sparks & Drops.  LA Witt inspired with her gender shifter novel Static, a must read for all.  Shira Anthony’s Symphony In Blue brought her Blue Notes characters together for a series holiday story, perfect reading for all lovers of romance and music.  Horror, fantasy and comedy are all represented here as well as a great non fiction tale by Joel Derfner, Lawfully Wedded Husband:How My Gay Marriage Will Save The American Family, a must read.

So many great books, see what stories you have missed, and make a list.  And don’t forget to check out the best book covers of the month at the end.
*Key:Winter_2
S series
C contemporary
F-fantasy
SF-science fiction
PN-paranormal
SP-supernatural
H-historical
HR-horror
N-Nonfiction
YA-young adult

Rating Scale: 1 to 5, 5 stars is outstanding
5 Star Rating:

Catch A Ghost by SE Jakes C, S
Long Time Gone by SE Jakes C, S
Static by LA Witt, SF
Symphony In Blue by Shira Anthony, C, S
The Engineered Throne by Megan Derr, F
The Fall by Kate Sherwood C. S

4 to 4.75 Star Rating:

A Small Miracle Happened by Mari Donne, (4.5 stars) C, holiday
Dirty Deeds by SE Jakes (4.75 stars) C, S
Home for the Hollandaise by BA Tortuga,Julia Talbot *4.5 stars) C
Horsing Around by Torquere Authors, (4.5 stars) A, C
In Discretion by Reesa Herberth (4.5 stars), SF
Lawfully Wedded Husband by Joel Derfner (4.75 stars) N
Refined Instincts by SJ Frost, (4 stars) SP, S
Serenading Stanley by John Inman (4.5 stars), C
Sparks & Drops by Susan Laine (4.5 stars), P, S
Texas Christmas by R.J. Scott (4.75 stars), C, S
The Dreamer by M. King (4 stars), HR
The Lightning Moon by Sylvia A. Winters (4.75 stars) SP
Tread Marks & Trademarks by S.A. McAuley (4.5 stars) C, S

3 to 3.75 Star Rating:

Ashland by Lynn Lorenz (3.5 stars) SP, S
The Actor and the Thief by Edward Kendrick (3.75 stars) C, S
Tor by Lynn Lorenz (3.5 stars), SP, S

2 to 2.75 Star Rating:

Dime Novel by Dale Chase (2.75 stars) H

1 to 1.75 Star Rating:  None

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Best Book Covers of January 2014

This month includes just an overall gold star to LC Chase whose great covers include the Hell or High Water series and Dirty Deeds.

InDiscretion_500x750Mindscape_500x750Sparks & Drops cover

Tread Marks and Trademarks cover

Static coverCatch a Ghost cover

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In Discretion by Reesa Herberth, Artist Simone’
Mindscape by Tal Valante, Artist LC Chase, who is having an incredible year
Sparks & Drops by Susan Laine, Artist Brooke Albrecht
Static by LA Witt, Artist LC Chase.  A Stunner with it’s Shifting Gender Person
Tread Marks & Trademarks by S.A. McAuley, Wilde City Press, no artist credited

Review: Dime Novel by Dale Chase

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Rating: 2.75 stars out of 5

Dime Novel coverDime novelist Benedict Bright has come out west to meet the man he has made famous in his dime novels, Arizona Marshal Evan Teague.  But the real man and the actual American west are very different from the popular stories he has written, stories that the Marshal has nothing but distain for.   When Benedict convinces the Marshal that he wants his next book to be authentic, Evan Teague begins Benedict’s education about life, not just surviving in the wild west but about his sexuality as well.  Nothing is like Benedict imagined it would be especially Evan Teague.  The longer Benedict stays in Arizona, the more he changes, including falling for the man he writes about.  When his education is over, will Evan continue to be a part of his life or will the Marshal break his heart?

I am a long time fan of western fiction, starting with the outstanding Louis L’Amour and Zane Grey.  So I am always excited to come across a new story set in the old west.  Dime Novel refers to those stories that were both cheaply made and cheaply sold.  Known as Penny Dreadfuls in England, as the format crossed the Atlantic the price was raised to a dime, hence the name dime novel.  They were overly dramatic ( think soap opera) stories with covers to match. While other genres appeared in dime novels (most notably the detective genre), it is the westerns that are the most fondly remembered.

The first dime novel was published in 1860 and flourished well into the early 1900’s.  So it works well that Dale Chase sets his story about the adventures of a dime novelist in Arizona 1897, just as the dime novel was at its height of popularity.  But writing historical fiction comes with pitfalls not found in contemporary fiction and Dale Chase walked into most of them.

The story is told from Benedict’s pov, one that seems to veer from the vernacular of the late 1800’s to that of current phraseology. Benedict will converse in courteous, polite tones one would expect from an “easterner”of the times, then drop into sexual language that could be found on Grindr.  Phrases like “sob sister” also pop up in Benedict’s dialog, however, that term did not appear in the American lexicon until 1912, years after 1897.  And with the dialog fluctuating between centuries, I was not surprised to find the behavior of the main characters follow that pattern as well.

Would a well known U.S. Marshal sexually accost a stranger almost immediately upon their arrival in town?  Especially if that stranger just happened to be a novelist from the East?  I am thinking no.  Actions like that would get them hanged, especially the rough sex that occurred in “the common two-story wooden boarding house” where the Marshal made his home, one that had “an atmosphere of cigar smoke and cooking grease”.   Those structures were notoriously flimsy with thin walls perfect for eavesdropping.  So a well known marshal takes the eastern novelist past the “heavy set woman” who oversees that establishment up the stair for a good fucking? No, I think not.  Not without a hanging party appearing shortly thereafter.  Any sexual  same sex relations would have been circumspect at best with hidden signals and masked intentions.Plus cigars were expensive and if you could afford a cigar then you could afford to live in a boarding house that didn’t reek of rancid oil .

With the dialog and character actions out of sync for that historical time period, the story is lost amidst glaring inaccuracies and inconsistent characterization.   The characters of Benedict and Evan never solidified into real human beings as their actions and interactions seem both “out of character” given social mores of the times and of the personas created for them by Chase. And as the characters lacked substance than so did any romance that happened between them.

There are many outstanding western novels available to read.  Among m/m authors who write great historical fiction of the American West, I count those novels of Lucius Parhelion, Shelter Somerset or Barry Brennessel.  All of those authors brought the American west to life with accuracy towards characters and time period.  Run and grab up one of their stories and give this one a pass.

Cover art by Wilde City Press.  No artist is credited with this cover.  The design would have been fine in another story, perhaps a modern western.  However, given that the title and plot is formed around a dime novelist, should there have been an attempt to model the cover after a typical dime novel.  What a missed opportunity. Here is an example: Buffalo Bill dime novel cover_buffalo_bw

Book Details:

12,000 words, Published 2013 by Wilde City Press

Winner Announcements, Blog Tour Contests and the Week Ahead in Reviews

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Oh, What A Week It Is…..

ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords wants to thank everyone who participated and commented on Tal Valante’s Mindscape Book Tour and Contest as well as Reesa Herberth’s In Discretion Book Tour.  I thought these books were amazing and have linked my reviews to each below.

Here are the Winners for each contest.  Congratulations to all the winners. All contest winners have been notified :

Mindscape_150x300

Tal Valante’s Mindscape Contest Winners are:

Christine – lacombejc@suddenlink.net
Lisa – lgrant1@san.rr.com
Jen – jen.f@mac.com

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InDiscretion_150x300Reesa Herberth’s In Discretion ContestWinner Is:

Colette Miranda

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The upcoming week is full of stellar books in a variety of genres, including LGBTQ non fiction, m/m espionage, and the wild west. Among those books reviewed is a truly remarkable story by LA Witt titled Static which examines gender identity with a different type of shifter.  Then ScatteredThoughts finishes up the week doing the deed with SE Jakes on her Dirty Deeds Blog Tour and Contest.  Readers, it will be a great week.  Join us, won’t you?

This is how the week shakes out:

Monday, Jan. 20.:   Lawfully Wedded Husband by Joel Derfner

Tuesday, Jan. 21:     Dime Novel by Dale Chase

Wed., Jan. 22:          Static by LA Witt

Thur., Jan 23:          Catch A Ghost by SE Jakes

Friday, Jan. 24:       Dirty Deeds by SE Jakes

Sat., Jan. 25:             Author Spotlight: SE Jakes’s Dirty Deeds Book Tour and Contest