A Lila Release Day Review: The Mystery of the Curiosities (Snow & Winter #2) by C.S. Poe

Standard

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Life has been pretty great for Sebastian Snow. The Emporium is thriving and his relationship with NYPD homicide detective, Calvin Winter, is everything he’s ever wanted. With Valentine’s Day around the corner, Sebastian’s only cause for concern is whether Calvin should be taken on a romantic date. It’s only when an unknown assailant smashes the Emporium’s window and leaves a peculiar note behind, that all plans get pushed aside in favor of another mystery.

Sebastian is quickly swept up in a series of grisly yet seemingly unrelated murders. The only connection tying the deaths together are curiosities from the lost museum of P.T. Barnum. Despite Calvin’s attempts to keep Sebastian out of the investigation, someone is forcing his hand, and it becomes apparent that the entire charade exists for Sebastian to solve. With each clue that’ll bring him closer to the killer, he’s led deeper into Calvin’s official cases.

It’s more than just Sebastian’s livelihood and relationship on the line—it’s his very life.

The Mystery of the Curiosities is an intellectual interpretation of a murder mystery. I’m not a mystery reader. I never read any of the classic or watched any mystery programs. But, this series drew me in with great characters, interesting clues, and a lot of new facts. Like Sebastian, I love to know a lot of useless facts and information.

If you are looking for a realistic contemporary story, this isn’t one. You must give the characters, but especially the events, a lot of leeway. The facts, the settings, and most of the clues in the book are real, but everything is a bit over the top. Solutions come quick, and a sense of mysticism surrounds the story.

Sebastian’s dad is one of my favorite characters and Neil is a close second. There’s great banter between Calvin and Sebastian, and their relationship works great with the clues. The settings were very detailed and it was easy to understand their importance and how all the details added up in the end.

If you’re into detective’s stories with an intellectual edge, this is a good book to read. It moves fast and keeps the reader wanting to know more about the next clue. Looking forward to other installments in this series.

The cover by Reese Dante fits perfectly with the events of the story and gives the reader another good look at Sebastian. Also, it matches the first one in the series.

Sale Links: DSP | Amazon | Nook

Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages
Published: March 7, 2017, by DSP Publishing
ISBN: 9781635332650
Edition Language: English

Series:  Snow & Winter
Book #1: The Mystery of Nevermore
Book #2: The Mystery of the Curiosities

Adrian Randall on Writing, Characters and his latest novel ‘Countermind’ (author interview and excerpt)

Standard

countermind-by-adrian-randall

Countermind by Adrian Randall
D
SP Publications
Cover art by L.C. Chase

Available for Purchase from

dsp-publications-logo

65a2f-waxcreative-amazon-kindle

✒︎

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Adrian Randall here today.  Thank you, Adrian, for sitting in our Interview chair and answering a few questions for us:

  • How much of yourself goes into a character?

It’s not really a question of how much as it is which parts. In the case of Countermind, Alan Izaki is a fugitive psychic, hacker, and thief on the run. Jack Smith, a government agent trained in a classified school of “counter-psychic” techniques, is trying to arrest him. The two of them run at very different temperatures: Alan is angry and indignant, whereas Smith is cool and conniving. I’m a pretty mild-mannered guy myself, so both of these characters represent very different extremes from me. But the nice thing about fiction is that you get to engage in behaviors that are a bit more outrageous than anything you’d do in real life.

  • Does research play a role into choosing which genre you write?  Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your worlds and cultures?

Writers should write what they know, which isn’t to mean that they should play it safe. Rather, they should go out and learn. The benefit of setting your story in this universe (or one close to it) is that you end up learning lots of cool stuff. Writing Countermind meant learning about topics ranging from hacking to spies to quantum physics and even video games. The risk is that you’ll get some details wrong, and actual experts will catch your mistakes and call you out on them, but it’s a risk worth taking.

  • Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing?

Probably, but I was a well-read kid so it’s hard to know which books influenced my writing and how. It doesn’t help that Countermind is a pretty adult novel, so it’s hard to say it was influenced by anything I read as a kid. I’ll say that one of the most formative books I read early in my life was A Wrinkle in Time. What that book taught me was that science fiction may be crammed full of big, cosmic ideas, but it can still be about the characters and their journeys. It taught me that genre fiction should still be character-driven. So I tried to make sure Countermind’s crazy plot also had a human heart pumping at its center. This weird little paranormal cyberpunk thriller is still, at bottom, a drama.

  • Have you ever had to put an ‘in progress’ story aside because of the emotional ties with it?  You were hurting with the characters or didn’t know how to proceed?

I had a couple works in progress that I’ve had trouble revisiting lately, just due to the current political climate. I started Countermind at a time when things were, if not perfect, at least more optimistic. It was easier to write dystopian literature without getting too bummed out. When I revisit these other projects, I’m going to try to make them a bit more hopeful, even if just because that’s what I need right now. (I’m also getting interested in the current “solarpunk” fad, for the same reasons.)

  • Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

At the end of Stardust, Neil Gaiman writes that though the heroes were happy together, it wasn’t ever-after, “for Time, the thief, eventually takes all things into his dusty storehouse, but they were happy, as these things go, for a long while.”

But my own opinion is a little less certain. Without spoiling anything, I’ll say that one of Countermind’s characters doesn’t believe in happy endings, either for-now or ever-after, and is very surprised to end up getting both.

  • How do you feel about the ebook format and where do you see it going?

I haven’t been publishing long enough to have an informed opinion from a business standpoint, but, as a consumer of books, it’s been a godsend. You can read anything anywhere at any time without lugging pounds of paper bricks around with you. That’s revolutionary. But for those particular books that have special sentimental value to me, I do like to buy and display “analog” editions. (On that note, if you order Countermind from DSP Publications’ web site, you can get a free digital copy with the physical version, so it’s the best of both worlds!)

  • How do you choose your covers?  (curious on my part)

Like I said, I haven’t been publishing long enough to have much perspective on this process. I had lots of ideas about what Countermind’s cover look like, and I passed these along to the cover artist, but I mostly wanted them to have the freedom to surprise me with their own vision. And I’m so glad they did. I fell in love with L.C. Chase’s cover as soon as I saw it. The cool tones give the whole thing a very noir feel. Alan’s fixing the viewer with a guarded, wary look that really captures the character’s personality. And the arrangement of the cover’s elements, with Alan’s face, the Hong Kong skyline, and the text all at right angles to each other, puts the reader off-balance before they even open the book. It’s perfect.

  • What’s next for you as an author?

I’m not sure. I have a few ideas in mind, and a few projects in progress, but it’s a matter of deciding which of them needs to be written. We’ll see!

Blurb 

In a postprivacy future, secrets are illegal and all communication is supervised. Telepaths are registered and recruited by a government with no qualms about invading the minds of its citizens. Fugitive psychics are hunted by the Bureau of Counterpsychic Affairs, or Countermind.

Alan Izaki is one such fugitive, as well as a hacker, grifter, and thief.

Countermind agent Jack Smith is hunting him through the twisted underbelly of Hong Kong.

But Alan possesses a secret so dangerous and profound it will not only shake Smith’s loyalties, but the foundations of their society.

And Alan isn’t the only one on the run. Rogue psychic Arissa binti Noor escapes Countermind, in search of brilliant game designer Feng Huang. She hopes that together, they can destroy the government’s intrusive Senex monitoring system.

Their goals seem at odds, and their lives are destined to collide. When they do, three very different people must question their alliances and their future, because everything is about to change.

Excerpt

It was past midnight, and some parts of Hong Kong actually did sleep at this hour. The pawnshop was near Kwai Chung, its customer base mostly local workers pawning valuables just to squander their money on the races, men who wouldn’t have the resources to track down the goods they’d put up as collateral. Alan had chosen the shop for its proximity to a body of water, and it was just a minute’s hard sprint to the nearest container yard, then through that to the channel.

Alan charged downhill on roads still slick from the afternoon’s rain, gleaming with the reflected glow of the city. No neon signs or electronic billboards, just streetlamps and a few lit office windows. Droplets ran in steady trickling streams off the buildings, canopies, streetlights, AC units. Steel shutters of closed storefronts shimmered wet, and Alan’s skin glistened in the damp air. He didn’t hear any pursuing footsteps, didn’t bother turning his head to check.

He’d only gotten a brief glimpse of the attacker in the pawnshop, but that had been plenty. The man looked just a few years older than Alan, Eurasian, tall and lean, hale, clean-cut, clean-shaven. His attire had been dark but utterly nondescript. There was an impression of a black suit jacket, black slacks, and a black button-down shirt (but no tie, and open at the neck). Alan hadn’t the time for more lingering impressions, but the man would’ve been attractive under more civil circumstances.

The man wasn’t the shop owner, and was too well-dressed to be another crook or a triad member. That probably meant law enforcement, ample reason for Alan to make the quickest possible escape without sparing even a backward glance.

Alan vaulted from the sidewalk over a steel railing, dashed across the street, leapt another rail, and charged down a covered stairway, letting gravity lead his charge toward the water, angling toward the red lights atop the cargo-loading cranes just visible over a row of gently swaying palm trees. He hit the next street with such speed he lost some momentum to a brief stumble. A red-and-silver taxicab blared its horn at him, and Alan ducked under the canopy of a shuttered dim-sum shop to get his bearings. He glanced up at the building corners in the nearest intersection and spotted the closed-circuit cameras. He couldn’t see which way they pivoted in their housings, but didn’t think they’d have a clear look at him where he stood. Just to be safe, he’d have to circle around, keeping shy of major streets if he was to stay clear of any more traffic cams, though his pursuer couldn’t be far behind.

Or was it pursuers? The man had attacked Alan alone, not a standard practice for an officer of one of the world’s most famous police forces. If he was a government agent, he had to know what Alan was, right? And what such agent would be so reckless as to challenge a rogue telepath completely solo? Alan doubted even a state psychic would risk such a confrontation, and this man had given no sign of being a psychic himself, had not attempted any telepathic attacks, relying entirely on physical force. Who was he?

Whatever he was, if he caught Alan, it would mean death or worse. He had no need to know who this man was, only to escape him.

Alan pulled his jacket tight around him and popped the collar up. He turned a corner for a side street with fewer cameras and fewer lights and strolled a leisurely path into the shadow of an elevated highway, traffic rumbling above him. From there, he made his way through a hole in a chain-link fence he’d prepared earlier tonight with the help of his bolt cutters, slipping into the container yard, and then he sprinted across the yard toward freedom.

He ran straight into the agent.

The man stepped around the corner of a container and flashed Alan a razor smile as he kneed him in the stomach, allowing Alan’s own momentum to double him over. Then the man threw Alan into the side of the steel container with a clang that echoed inside his head as his arm was twisted behind his back. Alan was strong for his size, but the agent was using some sort of judo leverage shit. Alan tried to wrench free, nearly succeeded, and then the man compensated for his strength by spinning him into the side of another container.

The man tightened his hold and hissed into Alan’s ear.

“How many counts of resisting arrest?”

Alan gasped, gulped, and tried to talk his way out, forcing the words. “Come on, man. You never said you were arresting me.”

“I thought it was implied. You did flee.”

“After you shot me!”

“With a government-issue ranged electroshock device. Pay attention.”

The agent tripped Alan roughly to the ground and buried his knees in Alan’s back. His hand forced Alan’s face against the concrete, and Alan wheezed as the air was squeezed out of his lungs.

Alan screwed his eyes to the edges of their sockets, trying to see up through the corner of his eye. The light of a passing ship winked between the container towers and slid over the man’s features: dark eyed, dark haired, darkly smiling.

“Resist some more,” the agent said. “I don’t need to excuse brutality, but it helps with the paperwork.”

Alan realized—a bit belatedly and with scant sense of relief—that he was now very much in danger of physical harm.

He expanded his thoughts outward and upward, seeking out the luminescent glow of his assailant’s mind as if reaching for a firefly in the night. He found it, wrapped telepathic fingers around it, and squeezed tight.

There you are, Alan thought at him.

Fleeting impressions of the man’s surface cognitions filtered through the permeable membrane of Alan’s consciousness: mild surprise, then recognition, and then a strange kind of resigned satisfaction.

“And there you are,” the man whispered

.

About the Author

Adrian Randall is a PhD and a dual-class bureaucrat/scientist. A native Floridian, he lives in Alexandria with the love of his life and their many beautiful board games. He has a tenuous grasp on reality, owing to a steady diet of novels, comics, and other distractions. All his ideas start as character backstory for MMOs and RPGs, and he does all his writing while listening to video game soundtracks. So if he’s gaming instead of working on a book, it’s not procrastination, it’s workshopping. He usually spends his free time geeking out about some damn thing or another. You can geek out with him through any of his social media channels. If he doesn’t respond, it means he broke his phone again.

Twitter: @cyberpreppy

Tumblr: cyberpreppy.tumblr.com

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/cyberpreppy

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Countermind by Adrian Randall

Standard

Rating: 4 stars out of 5* with notations

countermind-by-adrian-randallIn a postprivacy future, secrets are illegal and all communication is supervised. Telepaths are registered and recruited by a government with no qualms about invading the minds of its citizens. Fugitive psychics are hunted by the Bureau of Counterpsychic Affairs, or Countermind.

Alan Izaki is one such fugitive, as well as a hacker, grifter, and thief.
Countermind agent Jack Smith is hunting him through the twisted underbelly of Hong Kong.

But Alan possesses a secret so dangerous and profound it will not only shake Smith’s loyalties, but the foundations of their society.

And Alan isn’t the only one on the run. Rogue psychic Arissa binti Noor escapes Countermind, in search of brilliant game designer Feng Huang. She hopes that together, they can destroy the government’s intrusive Senex monitoring system.

Their goals seem at odds, and their lives are destined to collide. When they do, three very different people must question their alliances and their future, because everything is about to change.

If there was ever a book I could divide up and give different ratings to, it would be Countermind.  Its taken me a while to decide how exactly to approach this review because I have such mixed emotions over this story.  If I had my druthers, the ratings would look something like this:

Rating: 2.5 stars for 50 percent of the book
Rating: 5 stars for the remaining 50 percent of the book

And that changes as I remember different parts, both good and bad.  Sometimes its 60/40 or 40/60.  Or even 30/70.  Really, this book confounds me.

Most of the lower ratings would come at the beginning, and yes, the middle as well.  The fragmented narrative, even from present day to future, from character to character (s) in the plot timeline was confusing at best, incoherent at its worst.  It was like getting snatches of plot and people only to be thrown into another situation entirely.  Jarring doesn’t begin to describe how a reader feels. Its so densely packed with information and plot threads that its overwhelming and the leaping here and there only serves to make a reader lose track of what has just been laid out in the short previous section.  Really, I started taking notes.

But I plugged along as this was an ARC I’d been given (and I’ve never had a DNF yet) and a funny thing happened.  Randall abandoned his broken storytelling, the narrative became linear and Countermind evolved into the story it could have been all along.  It turns into an masterful tale of suspense, an alternative universe where psychics are sought because they are regarded as both dangerous to the States as well as a highly regarded commodity or tool for the government to use depending upon their personality.  Randall also brings all those previously unconnected or loosely connected puzzle pieces together and locks them into the drama so now we are firmly invested in these characters futures (if they have any) and the next precarious, breath-taking turn of the page.

Why oh why didn’t this happen sooner?

I can understand if the author didn’t want us to connect the dots early on but surely there was another way of doing it other than frustrating the heck out of a reader and making the book as disjointed as this was in the beginning.

Even at the end, the author just can’t leave things alone.  Unless, Randall is planning on this being a series which is possible.  There is that whole thing about Korea and….no, I won’t go there.  But I thought that was more than a tad absurd too.  Damn, forgot about Korea.  Should have cut that out altogether, unless of course, there’s a sequel coming.  Wouldn’t surprise me at all.   See what I mean about this story? Shakes head.

What to tell you.  Well the great bits about this story are just that…really great.  Mind-bending, suspenseful, hold your breath, just loved it great!  And the stuff I found absurd, dense, and fragmented?  Bad enough to make you not want to plow further into the story.  But I found it worth it.  It all depends upon if you like this genre enough to want to read Countermind.  If you do, tell me what you think.  I’m truly interested.

Cover art by L.C. Chase is terrific.  Works great for the character and storyline.

Sales Links

dsp-publications-logo

65a2f-waxcreative-amazon-kindle

Book Details:

ebook, 286 pages
Expected publication: February 28th 2017 by DSP Publications
ISBN 1635332699 (ISBN13: 9781635332698)
Edition LanguageEnglish

In Our New Release Spotlight: Quarry (The Vampire Guard #2) by Elizabeth Noble (author interview and special excerpt)

Standard

quarryfs_v1

Quarry (The Vampire Guard #2) by Elizabeth Noble
D
SP Publications

Available for Purchase at

DSP Publications

amazon square borderB&N borderKobo border:

 and Google Play

~

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Elizabeth Noble here today. Welcome, Elizabeth. Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your latest novel.

~

Thank you for having me on your blog today! I loved the questions you sent.

Are you a planner or a pantzer when writing a story? And why?

The short answer to the first question is yes. I do a bit of a combination and my story planning is something akin to chaos. Honestly, sometimes I don’t know how I pull it all together to create a book. I know there are authors who have detailed outlines for every chapter.

I’m not one of them.

Generally, I start out with a few scene ideas that turns into a plot. Then I’ll complete a rough story synopsis and general outline for the book as a whole. My outlines or story overviews are mostly a few lines of this, that, and something else that needs to happen somewhere begin Chapter 1 and The End. I take those few scene ideas and write a story around them. No one is more surprised than I am at how I interconnect those scenes. It’s a discovery and journey I love taking with each and every book.

As to the second question, the why…I really have no idea. I’ve accepted that’s simply the way my mind works. I’ve tried various method of detailed outlines or mind maps and they turn into a log jam every time.

How early in your life did you begin writing?

Honestly? Before I could write. I remember when I was very little making up and telling stories to anyone and everyone who’d listen. I think at that time in my life I was a constant chatterer and probably drove those around me nuts. I lived with my grandparents and though I have siblings I spent very little of my life with them. So, in essence, I grew up an only child. My grandparents, particularly my grandfather, loved books and encouraged my storytelling. I think they were happy when I learned how to write, however. I was always gifted with pads of paper and pencils!

Were you an early reader or were you read to and what childhood books had an impact on you as a child that you remember to this day and why?

I don’t remember being read to, but I’m sure I was. I do remember reading books even before I started school, and I remember my grandmother teaching me to read. She used to get frustrated when I was in early grade school and only brought home books on birds and wildlife from the library instead of storybooks.

The books I loved the most as a child were ones like Black Beauty, King of the Wind, Call of the Wild and Lassie. After those I loved books by Jules Verne and read all of them.

quarry_headerbanner

Blurb

The members of the Vampire Guard—Jonas Forge, spy and soldier turned cop; computer hacker extraordinaire Blair Turner; Declan, thief, con man, and ex-pirate; and medical examiner and werewolf Dr. Lucas Coate—face a dangerous and elusive enemy.

And this time, it’s personal.

Over the course of three hundred years, a man has touched each of their lives in ways they are only just realizing. When a hunt for a psychotic killer in the present resurrects memories and clues from the past, they discover how they have been affected and are bound by the existence of a ruthless vampire criminal. Now, while preventing a heist at a high-tech art show and thwarting several large-scale explosions, the team must employ their unique blend of science and supernatural abilities to put an end to the machinations of the man toying with their lives.

This time, he won’t slip through their fingers.

This time, it’s more than a case. It’s a hunt, and Forge, Blair, Declan, and Lucas won’t stop until they’ve captured their quarry.

Excerpt (this was one of those scenes that lead to the rest of the book):

Jonas laid his hand on Declan’s shoulder for a few beats. “It’s okay.” He settled on the ground beside Blair and pulled him close. “You’ll be fine.”

Blair reached over and ran two fingers down Jonas’s cheek. “You’ll do okay without me.”

Jonas sighed and shook his head. He shifted his weight so he squatted as much as possible behind Blair instead of beside him and slipped his hands under Blair’s arms.

“Ready?” Declan asked. Jonas nodded.

“We can do this,” Lucas said. He, along with Ori and Kai, positioned themselves with Declan at various points along the chunk of concrete pinning and trapping Blair. Even with all four of them, it was a strain lifting what had at one time been a wall. They got it up far enough so Jonas could haul Blair out.

Blair shouted through clenched teeth and shuddered. He reached around and gripped Jonas’s shirt with one hand. Shifting him carefully, Jonas hefted Blair up and held him in his arms.

“I don’t want you to die,” Blair whispered. He rested his head on Jonas’s shoulder and ran his fingertips over Jonas’s cheek again. “Declan promised he’d take care of you.”

Jonas raised his eyebrows and sighed. Declan pinched the bridge of his nose for a few seconds and said, “He’s lost a lot of blood.”

Jonas leaned to the side and stared down at the dark puddle under the chunk of concrete. “I see.”

Blair gasped a few times and touched Jonas’s face again. “Don’t die. You don’t have to die if I do.”

“I have no plans on dying, and you’re not going to either. Not today anyway,” Jonas said softly.

“Normal folks die from blood loss. You vamps are cool. All you do is become delirious.” Lucas patted Jonas’s arm. “Get him on the stretcher so I can see what we need to do.”

Once Blair was on the stretcher, Lucas ripped the material covering his leg. Bones stuck out in places they shouldn’t have, and his leg bent sideways right below his knee.

Lucas reached up and put his hand on the side of Blair’s neck. “The good news is, you’re a vampire, and this will be healed in a week or two. The bad news is, you’re a vampire, and there isn’t a lot I can do about painkillers.”

Blair licked his lips and nodded. “Quick. Do it quick.”

quarry_fbbanner_dspp

About the Author

Elizabeth Noble lives by the adage “I can’t not write”. She can’t remember a time when she didn’t make up stories and eventually she learned how to write them down. A part of every day is spent living in worlds she created that are filled with intrigue and espionage.  Using a real love of scifi and urban fantasy highlighted by twisty plots she crafts stories taking place in a slightly altered version of our world.

When she’s not chronicling the adventures of her many characters Elizabeth is a veterinary nurse living in her native Cleveland, Ohio. She shares her little brick house with an adorable canine princess and her tabby cat side-kick. Elizabeth is a fan of baseball, basketball (go Cavs and Indians!) and gardening. She can often be found working in her ‘outside office’ listening to classic rock and plotting her next novel waiting for it to be dark enough to gaze at the stars.

Elizabeth received several amateur writing awards. Since being published, several of her novels have received honorable mentions in the Rainbow Awards. Her novel Jewel Cave was a runner-up in the 2015 Rainbow Awards in the Gay Mystery/Thriller category. Ringed Love was a winner in the Gay Fantasy Romance category of the 2016 Rainbow Awards.

Please visit Elizabeth Noble at:

Visit The Vampire Guard:

  • The Vampire Guard website: http://bit.ly/232TyHH
  • Email members of The Vampire Guard:  jr.vampx@gmail.com

Other links:

A MelanieM Review: Skyships Over Innsmouth by Susan Laine

Standard

Rating: 3 stars out of  5

skyships-over-innsmouthTwenty winters have passed since the Cataclysm brought down society and robbed people of their memories. Humanity, vastly reduced in numbers since the initial chaos, has started anew in Canal City with the aid of library books and steam technology. The Scout and Ranger Corps was established to search for possible survivors and to replenish dwindling resources.

Dev is the captain of the scout airship Smoke Sparrow, and Shay is the scholar of their newest expedition. Their destination is Innsmouth, Massachusetts, a small fishing town that is mentioned in obscure books but shows up on no maps. Might its secrets offer answers? But within the fog-covered, ruined hillside town by the bay lurk unspeakable dangers and horrors beyond imagining. The expedition team soon learns that Innsmouth is one town that should have been left forgotten.

Skyships Over Innsmouth by Susan Laine is more of a horror steampunk story than a romance.  Taking place in a post apocalyptic world, Laine imagines what’s left of humanity living without memories of their past, in small societies run by steam and cobbled together knowledge from left over books.  The event that wiped out their memories and killed most of the world’s population?  Only mentioned by name, the Cataclysm, it brought the world almost to oblivion.  No one living can remember past “twenty winters”, and most of those alive are young.

Its a fascinating foundation.  Our main characters live in a place known as Canal City (its familiar name we will find out only towards the end of the story).  All the people, Shay, Dev, even the remarkable Malia (one of my favorite characters) is mostly a blank slate.  They have no history, no past, and unfortunately, that lack of foundation to their characters, leaves them shallow and lacking.  I understand that its part of the narrative but it left its mark here on the men too. Malia is a stunshine gun wielding, armor wearing security guard for the Smokey Sparrow. She’s the most vivid, sparkling character in the entire story.  I loved her.  She outgunned, out powered and basically out charactered every darn thing in this  story.  Not good for Dev and Shay. Even the villain.

Laine did spooky rather well.  The atmosphere over the town of Innsmouth practically shouted “run, you fools”.  Typically, no one ever listens.  I loved some of the descriptions of the town, the evil elements I can’t describe here without giving away plot points, and a host of other vile goings on.  I liked those.  But they kept being interrupted by Shay and Dev and a romance I never, ever believed in, not once.    It went from shy, “I Lurve You” glances, to instant hot in love.  I never felt any real connection between the two, all while trying to escape the town, and save themselves and others.

Nope, I wanted more  of Malia.

The explanation, when it came…well, I’m not sure that I understood it all.  But Malia was there kicking butt and somehow it all came together.  The almost to the end was smashing!

As a horror/adventure tale, I liked Skyships over Innsmouth by Susan Laine.  Definitely not as a romance.  Its really up to you.

Cover Art © 2016 Staf Masciandaro. I liked the cover art.  Spot on for the story.

Sales Links

DSP Publications

7104e-waxcreative-amazon-kindle

 

 

Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages
Published August 2nd 2016 by DSP Publications
ISBN 1634769902 (ISBN13: 9781634769907)
Edition LanguageEnglish

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Mad Lizard Mambo (Kai Gracen #2) by Rhys Ford

Standard

Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Mad Lizard MamboKai Gracen has no intention of being anyone’s pawn. A pity Fate and SoCalGov have a different opinion on the matter.

Licensed Stalkers make their living hunting down monsters and dangerous criminals… and their lives are usually brief, brutal, and thankless. Despite being elfin and cursed with a nearly immortal lifespan, Kai didn’t expect to be any different. Then Ryder, the High Lord of the Southern Rise Court, arrived in San Diego, Kai’s not-so-mundane life went from mild mayhem to full-throttle chaos.

Now an official liaison between the growing Sidhe Court and the human populace, Kai is at Ryder’s beck and call for anything a High Lord might need a Stalker to do. Unfortunately for Kai, this means chasing down a flimsy rumor about an ancient lost Court somewhere in the Nevada desert—a court with powerful magics that might save Ryder—and Kai’s—people from becoming a bloody memory in their Merged world’s violent history.

The race for the elfin people’s salvation opens unwelcome windows into Kai’s murky past, and it could also slam the door on any future he might have with his own kind and Ryder.

Rhys Ford’s dark, snarky fae mongrel Kai Gracen is back in Mad Lizard Mambo (Kai Gracen, #2) by Rhys Ford and never has a folded, jumbled up world looked so scary or  so good.  Now unhappily serving as a sort of go between for Lord Rider and the humans the sidhe are interacting/living with, Kai is once again called in for a favor.  One he wants to be paid handsomely for as he desperately needs the money to help out his sick mentor/father figure Stalker.  That the mission seems a little insane is about par when Kai considers that he’s dealing with Ryder the sidhe Lord he can’t seem to get out of his head and sidhe magics that he wants nothing to do with.

I really could read about Kai Gracen and his gritty conglomerate of a world all day long and never tire of either.  Somehow Ford has managed to gather all the elements I love about the Fae (not your kiddies elves) and fantasy, throw them in with action/adventure with a great deal of mystery and UST, rub in a ton of dirt, grit and a big smattering of blood (yep always blood) and car chases to come up with a whomper of a tale.

Molding this universe must be like having the most twisted set of maps ever, laid out on Playdoh and crammed together by a child on a sugar high.  Plains weave and warp, mountains are closer than they appear. Or are they?  Oh, look pretty butterflies.  But don’t touch or they may kill you.  Nothing like having a story where I wanted to just sit and examine the landscape, the flora and fauna for a bit.  Heck I wanted a whole new Natural History guide as the author’s imagination soars freely through the desert skies on dragon wings and lopes scarily along in herds.

Its up to the Stalkers to navigate these daunting territories and Kai Grace is among the best.  That’s one of the reasons he’s been requested to head up the team to go looking for this mythological lost court deep in some Fae Mountains.  Yep, like Kai, it smells rank too.  But he needs the money.  So to outfit such a endeavor, Kai heads to all the people who support the Stalkers and who helped raise him.  Some we met in the first story, Black Dog Blues, some are new.  The machines needed to transport them will conjure up images of Mad Max as armored monsters capable of getting them to their location, each as unique as their wonderful creator.  I love all the secondary characters here.  They are as elemental and tough as the desert they live on.  You can see how each contributed to Kai, the person who stands before them.  I don’t actually say Fae because Kai considers himself more human than Fae no matter what his biology says differently.  His outlook is human.  And when contrasted to Ryder’s, you get that absolutely.

There’s so many twists and turns here, lost cities and yes, be still my heart, dragons.

Ford also has some answers to Kai’s back history, startling ones, while opening new questions for future stories.  This is a standard procedure for Ford and one I also always look forward to as it means another story.  Bring it on!

Mad Lizard Mambo (Kai Gracen, #2) by Rhys Ford once again soars, rocks, and scrambles through the gritty urban fantasy world and brings us a story you won’t be able to put down until it over.  I love this character and series, and can’t  wait for more.  Its really not a romance, all that UST running around.  Its high action, swiftly paced, tons of twists and turns, and yes, fae (light and dark) and dragons!  If that’s your thing as its definitely mine, I highly recommend this story and the one preceding it.  I love them both and think you will too.

Cover art shows Kai and a special dragon.  Love the colors, and the design.  Perfection.

Sales Links

DSP Publications

7104e-waxcreative-amazon-kindle

 

 

Book Details:

ebook, 220 pages
Expected publication: September 13th 2016 by DSP Publications
ISBN 1634777441 (ISBN13: 9781634777445)
Edition LanguageEnglish

Series Kai Gracen – add to Goodreads here:

Note from DSP Publications: Spend your weekend with Kai Gracen! Mad Lizard Mambo by Rhys Ford will be released on the DSP Publications website 3 days before other retailers, on September 10. Additionally, eBook one in the Kai Gracen Series, Black Dog Blues, will be 99 cents September 6-13, 2016.

A BJ Review: Crisped + Sere (Immemorial Year #2) by T.J. Klune

Standard

Rating:    4 stars out of 5

Crisped + SereTwenty-one days.

In a world ravaged by fire and descending into madness, Cavalo has been given an ultimatum by the dark man known as Patrick: return Lucas to him and the cannibalistic Dead Rabbits, or the town of Cottonwood and its inhabitants will be destroyed.

But Lucas has a secret embedded into his skin that promises to forever alter the shape of things to come—a secret that Cavalo must decide if it’s worth dying over, even as he wrestles with his own growing attraction to the muted psychopath.

Twenty-one days.

Cavalo has twenty-one days to prepare for war. Twenty-one days to hold what is left of his shredded sanity together. Twenty-one days to convince the people of Cottonwood to rise up and fight back. Twenty-one days to unravel the meaning behind the marks that cover Lucas.

A meaning that leads to a single word and a place of unimaginable power: Dworshak.

Like the first book, this one is dark and creepy. The excellent world-building continues, and the character development of all the people we met in book one was excellent. Also, this read smoother to me than the first, whether because I had a background now and wasn’t confused as I had been often in the first, I’m not sure. I don’t think there was as much of the hopping around like in the first book, there was some, but it flowed better.

This time we get more of a relationship between all of the characters. It’s not just about Cavalo and Lucas, but about all the people that formed his strange family. As before, Bad Dog was a huge favorite for me during the whole of this story.  I was glad to get more info on Lucas and came to feel the connection between all four of them (including the robot SIRS) as a family that worked. Cavalo thinks of himself as a monster, a bad guy, and yet in this we see him risk everything to help others, including those outside of his little family. While I didn’t feel invested in them as a couple in book one, by the end of this book, I most definitely did. And loved the end. Reminded me a bit of Star Trek, and I am a trekkie since a teen.

The way it was written without us really knowing if Cavalo actually heard Bad Dog and Lucas in his head, or if it was part of his mental issues, worked for me. As a movie, this would definitely be horror… maybe something like The Stand, only even more gory. There are definitely plenty of visual images to fill that screen with action, special effects, and blood. I’d like to see it.

The pace in this one felt right most of the time, but I think it could have been tightened up and the story shortened and still read just as well. There was an event about midway that made me say… UGH, not again. However, later on I came to accept it and even like that it had happened because of what else came after.  It really came to bug me how they kept speaking of killing Lucas, not just once but so many times.

BTW, when reading the first book, I didn’t actually realize where the titles originated. This time I did. It’s from the poem Ulalume by Edgar Allan Poe. I feel like I should have gotten that, but I’m not much of a poetry reader.

While not everything was bright or wrapped up, this ended much more hopefully than book one and does not have a cliffie. I’d still like more in this world though to see if they rebuild and how.

The cover is creepy as hell, and the feel of it fits the book.

Sales Links

DSP Publications

DSP Logo

7104e-waxcreative-amazon-kindle

Book Details:

ebook, 340 pages
Expected publication: August 23rd 2016 by DSP Publications
Original TitleCrisped + Sere
ISBN 1634770684 (ISBN13: 9781634770682)
Edition LanguageEnglish

Series: Immemorial Year

An Alisa Release Day Review: Confessions (Reno PD Case Files #1) by Ethan Stone

Standard

Rating:  4 stars out of 5

 

ConfessionsA serial killer known as the Confessor is kidnapping and torturing gay men, and Reno Police Department Evidence Technician Leif Carson is determined to catch him.

 

His personal life isn’t any less stressful. Despite being a virgin and having zero experience with men, he can’t stop thinking about his best friend’s ex, Rafe Castillo. Rafe is suffering from PTSD, but that doesn’t stop Leif from wanting to be with him.

 

Complete opposites, they’re an amazing fit once they do get together—until Rafe’s PTSD gets in the way and he walks away from the relationship before it has a chance to truly blossom. Even though he has intense feelings for the man, Leif has no choice but to let him go.

 

When the Confessor kidnaps Rafe, Leif does everything possible to locate him before he’s murdered. Rafe’s near-death experience changes him profoundly, but the danger isn’t over yet. Leif and Rafe will have to face pure evil together if they’re going to last.

 

This was a great story.  From the very beginning Leif is doing everything he can to help fine the confessor along with his friends also working at the police department while still trying to learn how to have his own personal life.

 

Leif is the only single person in his group of friends and really wants to find someone to love and have someone to love him.  When Leif brings his friend’s ex home to sleep off his drunkenness the events of the next morning give him hope that he may have found that person.  However, a misunderstanding on Rafe’s part send him right back into a drunken haze.

 

This story is told from Colin’s view, but it is told in such a way that I could still understand the other characters feelings in addition to Colin’s.  When Rafe disappears after their misunderstanding he won’t let anything get in his way to find Rafe while also finding the Confessor.  Colin is so innocent when it comes to relationships, but also so grown up with how he acts it was nice not having the younger person throwing a fit as is often seen.  This book is a spin-off of Ethan’s Flesh series, but it isn’t necessary to read them to connect with this story since it didn’t rely on the events of those books.  I can’t wait for another book in this series to see more of these characters.

 

Cover art by Aaron Anderson is wonderful and sets a tone for the story.

 

Sales Links: DSP Publications | Amazon | OmniLit

 

Book Details:

ebook, 216 pages

Published: August 12, 2016 by DSP Publications

ISBN-13: 9781634771788

Edition Language: English

Series: Reno PD Case Files #1

In the Release Day Spotlight: Confessions (Reno PD Case Files #1) by Ethan Stone (author interview)

Standard

Confessions

Confessions (Reno PD Case Files #1) by Ethan Stone
D
SP Publications
Release Date    August 9, 2016

Sales Links DSP Publications | Amazon

~~~

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Ethan Stone here today to talk writing, books and Confessions.  Welcome, Ethan.

~~~

Welcome to the second stop of the Confessions blog tour. Today I’m going to answer some questions. I hope you get to know me a little better.

  • Where do you normally draw your inspiration for a book from?  A memory, a myth, a place or journey, or something far more personal?

Yes. 😉 I draw inspiration everywhere. My friends, my boyfriend, my family—they all know they could become part of my stories. I can be driving along and see something as simple as a fallen free and come up with an idea. With Cristian Flesh from In the Flesh and that series it was just his name. I thought Flesh would make a good surname and then came his first name. Almost immediately I had his past in my head and the plot of the book came tome quickly.

  • Are you a planner or a pantser when writing a story? And why?

I’m more of a pantser. I usually start with the initial idea and some character sketches. Sometimes I’ll make a list of the beats I need to hit but it’s not ever long. Anytime I try a full outline I lose interest and it joins the pile of partial stories.

  • Contemporary, supernatural, fantasy, or science fiction narratives or something else?  Does any genre draw you more than another when writing it or reading it and why does it do so?

I usually write mysteries. The few times I’ve written a contemporary romance with some sort of action or mystery I have a very hard tome finishing it. I like the romance interwoven in between the mystery. I’m not sure what it says about me that I like writing about murders and serial killers but I try not to think about that. I have written a couple paranormal stories (Including one coming out in September) but even those have a mystery element as well.

  • If you had a character you’ve written you would write differently now at this time in your writing career, who would it be and why?

When I wrote In the Flesh I wasn’t aware of the ‘rules of romance.’ If I were to write the book now I’d have those thoughts in my head and sometimes that leads to internal censoring. Flesh doesn’t follow those rules but he does have his own set of rules.

  • Can an author have favorites among their characters and do you have them?

Cristian Flesh was my first so he’s special to me. But Kash from Compromised is a favorite because of all my characters he’s the one I’m most like. There’s a lot in that book that mirrored my life at the time. I adore Linc from Bartender, PI because he’s so funny. So, yeah I’m not sure I have an absolute favorite. It’s kind of like trying to pick which child you love most.

  • If you were to be stranded on a small demi-planet, island, or god forbid LaGuardia in a snow storm, what books would you take to read or authors on your comfort list?

I’ve recently discovered an author by the name of S.C. Wynne. She writes some absolutely fantastic stories. I’ve been binging on her books lately and am down to a handful. I don’t know what I’ll do when I’ve read them all. I’m also a fan of Jay Northcote, Kai Tyler and L.A. Witt.

  • How early in your life did you begin writing?

I don’t remember a time I didn’t write or want to write. In third grade I wrote a story about a dwarf/elf combo named Hodey. He swung on ropes hollering “Hodey Hooooooooo.” In my twenties I wrote a book titled “A Gentleman Among Thieves.” That’s a book that will never see the light of day. For many years I wrote my own soap opera I called Fortune.

  • Were you an early reader or were you read to and what childhood books had an impact on you as a child that you remember to this day and why?

I was a voracious reader until my early teens. There’s a great series of books that started with Bunnicula. I read that book and the sequels more times than I can count. I loved the Amelia Bedelia books. My favorite was Priscilla by Colleen Copeland. It’s a true life story written from the perspective of the pig.

  • What question would you ask yourself here?

Who put the bop in the bop do bop shoo bop shoo bop?

  • If you were writing your life as a romance novel, what would the title be?

Work in Progress.

Thanks to everyone for visiting and if you have other questions feel free to ask. A big thanks to Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for hosting me.

Confessions

Blurb

A Reno PD Case File

A serial killer known as the Confessor is kidnapping and torturing gay men, and Reno Police Department Evidence Technician Leif Carson is determined to catch him.

His personal life isn’t any less stressful. Despite being a virgin and having zero experience with men, he can’t stop thinking about his best friend’s ex, Rafe Castillo. Rafe is suffering from PTSD, but that doesn’t stop Leif from wanting to be with him.

Complete opposites, they’re an amazing fit once they do get together—until Rafe’s PTSD gets in the way and he walks away from the relationship before it has a chance to truly blossom. Even though he has intense feelings for the man, Leif has no choice but to let him go.

When the Confessor kidnaps Rafe, Leif does everything possible to locate him before he’s murdered. Rafe’s near-death experience changes him profoundly, but the danger isn’t over yet. Leif and Rafe will have to face pure evil together if they’re going to last.

About the Author

Ethan Stone

Romance on the Edge

Ethan Stone doesn’t write your typical boy meets boy stories. With a combination of love and suspense he makes his characters work hard for their HEAs. If they can survive what he puts them through, then they can survive anything. He enjoys Romance with an Edge.

Ethan has been reading mysteries and thrillers since he was young. He’s had a thing for guys in uniform for just as long. That may have influenced the stories he writes.

He’s a native Oregonian with two kids. One of whom has made him a grandfather three times over; even though he is way too young.

Readers can find Ethan online.

A Free Dreamer Review: Native Wind (Native Ingenuity: First Chronicle) by A.M. Burns

Standard

Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Native WindAfter his family is killed by thieves, sole survivor Trey McAlister is taken in by a nearby Comanche clan. Trey has a gift for magic and the clan’s shaman, Singing Crow, makes him an apprentice. While learning to control his powers, Trey bonds with a young warrior and shape shifter, Grey Talon. When they are sent out on a quest to find the missing daughter of a dragon, they encounter the same bandits who murdered Trey’s family, as well as a man made of copper who drives Trey to dig deeper into the magics that created him.

It doesn’t take them long to discover a rancher near Cheyenne, Wyoming is plotting to build a workforce of copper men—and has captured the dragon’s daughter they’ve been searching for. Trey and Grey Talon must draw on all their knowledge and skills to complete their quest—one that grows more complicated, and more dangerous, with each passing day.

“Native Wind” is an interesting mix of Western, Steampunk and Native American mythology. That’s definitely not a mix I’ve come across before, so I was hopeful.

Grey Talon is a very unusual shifter with his ability to turn into any animal he’s ever laid eyes on. Trey’s shaman magic was also very interesting and I loved the time Trey spent practicing it.

Both MCs were very likeable and their bond was obvious. I liked that they were a couple from the start of the book, which left more room for plot outside the romance. There was no need for explanations and flashbacks, their love for each other felt completely natural.

There were a couple of unique minor characters as well, like Copperpot, the metal construct, or Singing Crow, Trey’s shaman teacher.

The great villain, however, was needlessly evil. I don’t like it when the villains only ever do evil things and the MCs only ever do good things. I like my shades of grey. At times, it was also hard to understand certain actions of Grey Talon and Trey. They didn’t always make all that much sense.

The world building was a little lacking. While there were a lot of scenes of Trey talking about and practicing his magic, little things were left unexplained. I’m still uncertain just how Grey Talon communicated in animal form.

I would have also enjoyed a bit more Steampunk. Sure, there was Copperpot, who became a loyal companion of the two, but that’s about it. The world itself didn’t have many steam powered machines.

I’m not sure I entirely understood the part dragons play in this world. They’re definitely nothing like any dragons I’ve come across in literature before.

Overall, “Native Wind” had promise but didn’t quite live up to it. The plot didn’t really grip me. I wasn’t exactly bored, but I never quite felt the urge that I absolutely had to know what happened next. I probably won’t read the sequel.

 The cover by Stef Masciandaro shows a drawing of our four heroes, with Trey shifted into a dog and a dragon looming in the background.

Sales Links:  DSP Publications | Amazon

Book details:

ebook, 216 pages
Expected publication: July 19th 2016 by DSP Publications
ISBN 1634765532 (ISBN13: 9781634765534)
Edition LanguageEnglish