Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Best of 2015

Standard

best-of-2015-small-banner2

 From Books, Audiobooks to Book Covers

Its

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Best of 2015

Happy New Year! Looking back over 2015 I’m  amazed at all the changes here and marvelous tales that came to our door. I’m thinking about the new reviewers we’ve added,  all the wonderful books we’ve read, new authors we’ve discovered, and the way Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words has grown in this past year.  Along with new reviewers, came new columns like Paul’s Paranormal Portfolio (his New Year’s edition is posted today), our Author Discovery along with all our author interviews and guest posts.

As the market for audiobooks has increased so has our reviews.  Even a audiobook virgin like myself jumped into the format and found that I enjoyed it immensely. What a surprise…for me!

I hope 2016 brings a new look to Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words, a few new reviewers to help us read more, listen to, review more about the thing we love…books! I hope we find more new authors to discover, and more ways in which to write about them and the writing process.

But before we move forward, we’re going to look back at the books and covers we loved best.  So here are some of our favorites. Free Dreamer is traveling, and Paul was working on his Paranormal Portfolio but some of the rest of us had our lists ready. Are some of yours among them?  Which ones do you think we left out?  And are there new discoveries among those we love so much? Check out our Best Books and Covers of 2015 below…

 

 

From BJ:

✪Favorite Books Read in 2015:

Captive Prince One and Two by C.S. Pascat
The entire Straight Boys series by Alessandra Hazard
The entire Guardians of the Pattern series by Jaye McKenna
For Real by Alexis Hall
Control by Cordelia Kingsbridge
Give an Inch by K.D. Sarge (because it was so cute AND it was written from my prompt)

✪ Best Audiobook of 2015:

Into Deep Waters by Kaje Harper, Narrated by Kaleo Griffith

✪Favorite Covers of 2015

Ghost in the Mythe coverFor Real coverSong of the NavigatorBurn The Sky cover

Ghost in the Mythe by Jaye McKenna, artist Chinchbug
For Real by Alexis Hall
Song of the Navigator by Astrid Amara
Burn the Sky by Jaye McKenna, artist Chinchbug
Leythe Blade by Jaye McKenna, artist Chinchbug
Something Like A Love Song by Becca Burton
In Discretion (Ylendrian Empire, #3) by Reesa Herberth
Neskaya (Bittersweet Dreams) by Augusta Li

Leythe BladeSomething Like A Love SongInDiscretion_500x750Neskaya

I really admire original covers that are drawn or created specifically to represent that book so much more than those that just use stock photography…so here are some I love.

 

 

From Stella:

 

✪BEST BOOKS

Beneath the Stain by Amy Lane
Sacrati by Kate Sherwood
✪BEST COVERS
Sand and Gold and RuinThe Fifth Son coverCabin NightsACID coverStormBeforeTheCalm[The]FS
Sand and Ruin and Gold by Alexis Hall
The Fifth Son by Blaine D Arden
Cabin Nights by Ashley John
ACID by Wulf Francu Godgluck and S. van Rooyen
The Storm before the Calm by Cate Ashwood
✪BEST AUTHOR DISCOVERIES
Family of Lies Sebastian by Sam Argent
Go On Your Own Way by Zane Riley
The Rules of Ever After by Killian B Brewer
The Union of Sun and Moon by Gus Li
The Last Yeti by Tully Vincent
In the Middle of Somewhere by Roan Parrish

                                                                                        From Ali

✪ Best books:  These are my top 5 plus

The Subs Club by JA Rock
Darker Space by Lisa Henry
Trust the Focus by Megan Erickson
Kick at the Darkness by Keira Andrews
Sutphin Boulevard by Santino Hassell
Lonely Hearts by Heidi Cullinan
Crash & Burn by Abigail Roux
A Seditious Affair by KJ Charles

  ✪Best Short Stories:

Fawn by Nash Summers  **this was probably my favorite thing I read this year in this genre
One Perfect Night by Lisa Henry
Lima Oscar Victor Echo & the Truth About Everything by Suki Fleet
Ten Simple Steps for Surviving the Apocalypse by Cari Z
Waiting for Clark by Annabeth Albert

 ✪ Best Covers:

 Sutphin Boulevard coverIn the Middle of Somewhere coverFawn coverStygian
Stygian by Santino Hassell
Fawn by Nash Summers
Sutphin Boulevard by Santino Hassell
Level Hands by Amy Jo Cousins
Level Hands
In the Middle of Somewhere by Roan Parrish

From Mika

✪My Favorite Books of 2015

. Sunset Park by Santino Hassell & How To Be A Normal Person by T.J. Klune. They are tied for me. I loved these books. (

Rest in any order
Conscious Decisions of the Heart by John Wiltshire
Carry the Ocean by Heidi Cullinan
Trust the Focus by Megan Erickson
Breakaway by Avon Gale
Fish Stick Fridays by Rhys Ford
Kick at the Darkness by Keira Andrews
Him by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy
Definitely Maybe, Yours by Lissa Reed
The Subs Club by J.A. Rock
Restless Spirits by Jordan L. Hawk
Down & Dirty by Rhys Ford

✪Best Covers:

Conscious Decisions of the Heart civCarry the OceanTrust the Focus

Carry the Ocean by Heidi Cullinan
Conscious Decisions of the Heart by John Wiltshire
Trust the Focus by Megan Erickson

From Sammy:

✪Best Books of 2015:

– Unwrapping Hank by Eli Easton
– Dirty Dining by E.M. Lynley
– The Wrong Man & The Right Time by Lane Hayes
– The Shearing Gun by Renae Kaye
– Slasherazzi by Daniel A. Kaine
– Where There’s Smoke & Where There’s Fire by Cari Z
– The World in His Eyes by A.J. Thomas
– The Ultimate Team by Tricia Owens
– The Biggest Scoop by Gillian St. Kevern (A YA pick!)
And an upcoming release in 2016 that I had the pleasure of beta reading:
– Thorns & Fangs by Gillian St. Kevern

From Melanie

For me there  were so many. You really had to look no further than our best book of the month to see that.  Its especially hard in a year where favorite  series came to a finish.  Those were so tough on the heart.  But so were so many others. I laughed with these characters and boy, did I cry.  Sometimes, I did both at the same time.  Looking at you Renae Kaye and John Inman!
Alex Beecroft and Alexis Hall almost deserve their own section.  Beecroft’s Trowchester Blues was a trilogy so marvelous it was illuminating.  And Alexis Hall?  His words flow with a lyricism and magic  that make reading his stories a privilege.
John Wiltshire’s excellent series More Heat Than The Sun starts off with one of my favorite books of 2015, Conscious Decisions of the Heart (also Best Cover).  Heidi Cullinan’s Minnesota Christmas trilogy which ends with my favorite story of them all, Eden Winter’s Diversion series (be still my heart) got a new installment that I’ve read several times, see?  I can  go on and on.  And I haven’t even talked about Astrid Amara who is on several of the other reviewers lists!

✪Best Books

The Shearing Gun by Renae Kaye
Waiting for the Flood by Alexis Hall
Sand and Ruin and Gold by Alexis Hall
Conscious Decisions of the Heart by John Wiltshire
Holding Out for a Fairy Tale (Least Likely Partnership #2) by A.J. Thomas
My Magical Palace by Kunal Mukherjee
Blue Eyed Stranger (Trowchester Blues #2) by Alex Beecroft
Trowchester Blues (Trowchester Blues, #1) by Alex Beecroft
Blue Steel Chain (Trowchester Blues, #3) by Alex Beecroft
Blowing Off Steam by Joy Lynn Fielding
Redemption (Diversion #5) by Eden Winters
Tigers on the Run (Tigers and Devils #3) by Sean Kennedy
A Solitary Man by Shira Anthony and Aisling Mancy
Where the Grass is Greener (Seeds of Tyrone #2) by Debbie McGowan and Raine O’Tierney
Winter Wonderland (Minnesota Christmas #3) by Heidi Cullinan *loved them all
******************************
(Humor & Pathos Division)
Shawn’s Law by Renae Kaye
Coming Back by John Inman
You Are The Reason by Renae Kaye
 ***********************
Four of Club series by Parker Williams (Pulp Friction 2015)
Jack of Spades series by Lee Brazil
King of Hearts series by Havan Fellows
******************************

Best Audiobook

Best Covers:

Theory Unproven 400x600Blowing Off Steam coverConscious Decisions of the Heart civWaiting for the Flood cover

 

 

 

 

 

Theory Unproven by Lillian Francis, artist Meredith Russell
Conscious Decisions of the Heart by John Wiltshire
Waiting for the Flood by Alexis Hall, artist Simone
Blowing Off Steam by Joy Lynn Fielding

 

Sand and Gold and RuinSnowman coverForging the future coverRunning with the Wind cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shawn's Law coverChasing the Swallows coverSomething Like A Love SongFirst Comes Marriage

 

 

 

 

 

Shawn’s Law by Renae Kay, Paul Richmond artist
Something Like A Love Song by Becca Burton, unknown artist
Chasing the Swallows by John Inman, artist Maria Fanning
First Comes Marriage by Shira Anthony, artist Paul Richmond

The Sub Club by J.A. Rock, artist Kanaxa
My Magical Palace by Kunal Mukherjee, artist unknown
Winter Oranges by Marie Sexton, artist L.C. Chase
Trowchester Blues trilogy by Alex Beecroft, artist Lou Harper
Trowchester Blues cover

 

 

TheSubsClub_600x900Winter Oranges coverMy Magical Palace

Review: Out of the Gate by E.M. Lynley

Standard

Rating: 3.75 (rounded up to 4) out of 5

OutoftheGateLGBritish actor and now successful American TV star Wesley Tremayne remains deeply in the closet.  Afraid that coming out would hurt his burgeoning tv show and career just when he is at his most popular, Wes has never met anyone he wanted enough to make that change in his life.  But a day at the races with his friends and fellow actors changes everything.  He spies an attractive man down on the field only to lose sight of him.  Only when he and his friends decide to buy a race horse at a claiming stake for publicity, does Wes find out that the attractive man he saw is a horse trainer , one they persuade to train their new horse after they bought him.

Horse owner/trainer Evan Taylor is having troubles of his own.  His relationship with his documentary journalist lover is on rocky ground, and several of his horse owners have pulled their horses from his barn without giving him reasons for their actions.  Evan left his own acting career behind in Hollywood and never looked back after he become a horse trainer with his own barn. With his experiences in Hollywood still painfully fresh all these years later, the last thing Evan wants is to deal with a group of actors who bought a horse on a whim.  Still, after they meet his demands, they appoint Wes as their go between and everything starts to change for each of them.

Wes and Evan fall first into friendship, then attraction pulls them into something far deeper. But Evan still has a boyfriend to content with, even a absent one and Wes remains in the closet, a barrier to any future relationship with Evan who won’t be anyone’s secret, not even for a man Evan is growing to love. Wes must decide if Evan is the one man for whom he will climb out of the closet for.  And Evan?  Evan faces several enormous decisions of his own before he can move forward….including telling Wes about a past that continues to haunt him and solving the mystery of the dwindling owners.

Out of the Gate is a story framed by the horse racing world, from the title and gorgeous cover to the many racing locales found within.  That specific framework helps to boost this novel out of the already full field of romance stories by giving it a unique foundation for Lynley’s romance and unusual profession for one of her main characters.  It feels authentic, grounded as it is in fact and the author’s fondness for this sport and the people who spend their lives inside of it.  It was this aspect of Lynley’s story that drew me in to begin with as I was unfamiliar with this author prior to this story.

From Lynley’s bio it is certain that horses in many ways have been a constant in her life…but what was surprising is the racing element and the time the author spent at the track with its riders, trainers, owners and yes, horses.  That is a route that few women horse aficionados take.  Normally it might be hunters or  dressage or anything other than Thoroughbred Racing.  I loved this aspect of the story especially as Lynley’s conception and attention to detail in her story made this a standout among the many romances I have read lately.  From the horses you meet inside with their gentle nuzzling and desire to run to the assistants and “boys” who ride them, each and every one comes to life within this story.  The reader will feel as though they have walked past the stalls, smelled the aroma of fresh hay and horses direct off the track.  Just a wonderful job on this author’s part to make the reader feel a part of the racing scene so important to her story.

Lynley provides some wonderful characters to go along with this terrific locale.  Wesley Tremayne is a lovely character.  Like many other actors, he has stayed in the closet to protect himself and his career.  He wants to stop hiding but has never met a man important enough to put his career on the line for him.  Tremayne becomes instantly relatable due to the rationale behind his closeted status.  With so many actors in the news lately because they are coming out and acknowledging their homosexuality this feels very current and brings us into Wes’ mind frame when we first encounter him in the story.  I loved Wes, even when he is indecisive about leaving the closet, we understand his fears.  The women friends here are terrific characters as too.  From Julia, his friend and”beard” to Vanessa, their wealthy friend and cohort and even Nicky Holloway, Evan’s assistant trainer, none of these woman comes off as a cardboard creations but important secondary supporting characters.  I appreciated their personas as much as their roles.

If I have some quibbles it would be with two male characters here, one of them being Evan Taylor.  I loved Evan the trainer. And his romance with Wes is endearing and sweet.  That worked incredibly well.  Where I felt the characterization was uneven was with Evan’s past and the demons he is fighting.  I wish Lynley had given us more of a foundation for Evan’s problems.  I don’t mean vivid descriptions but something more pressing than a small one time relating of facts and a few scenes of frailty.  Something of that power and pain needs to have the same amount of framework behind it that all the other elements Lynley provides in her stories and I just didn’t feel like that happened.   The same goes for Evan’s film producer boyfriend, Gary.  Gary is particularly hard to pin down.  His actions comes across as almost sadistic yet then he acts as a concerned boyfriend/ex partner. His persona is a little too fluid to be reasonable although he does work well as a villain.  I wish he had as many layers to him as the other characters.  Even one insubstantial character can take away something from the others around him and Gary does.

Lynley provides her story with several mysteries.  The one that will have the most impact comes to a dramatic and quick resolution towards the end.  The action is wonderful and the result satisfactory.   Did I wish for a little more?  Yes, but Lynley pulls all her plot threads together and provides a denouement that brings all the problems and drama the characters have been through to an ending the reader will love.

As I said this was my first story by  E.M. Lynley but it won’t be the last.  I loved her ability to bring me into her characters world and their messy all too human lives.  If I had a request, it would be for Lynley to return to the track and horse racing for another story and romance.  All this did was wet my appetite for more stories with a similar setting.  I think you will feel the same and recommend this story to all lovers of hot men and contemporary romance.

Cover art by Reese Dante.  Wonderful, wonderful cover.  I love the racing in the background and the tone of the design and coloration.

Buy Links:    Dreamspinner Press         ARe          Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 270 pages
Published April 21st 2014 by Dreamspinner Press (first published April 20th 2014)
ISBN 1627986839 (ISBN13: 9781627986830)
edition languageEnglish
url http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=4896
settingHollywood, CA
San Francisco, CA (United States)
Berkeley, CA

 

 

E.M. Lynley’s On Tour with Out of the Gate (contest)

Standard

 

out of the gate banner

 

Love horses and m/m romance? Check out E.M. Lynley’s latest release, Out of the Gate.  On E.M. Lynley’s Out of the Gate Book Tour and contest, the author and Pride Promotions has a $10 Etsy gift card to giveaway. To enter to win a $10 Etsy gift card, visit this Rafflecopter link .  Contest ends 6/18.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.

For more details about E.M Lynley and Out of the Gate, see the author’s bio, book blurb and  excerpt below:

OutoftheGateLGBook Name: Out of the Gate
Author Name: EM Lynley
Cover Artist: Reese Dante
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Book Details:

ebook, 270 pages
Published April 21st 2014 by Dreamspinner Press (first published April 20th 2014)
ISBN 1627986839 (ISBN13: 9781627986830)
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=4896
settingHollywood, CA .San Francisco, CA (United States) Berkeley, CA

✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍
Blurb(s): British actor Wesley Tremayne thinks he’s close to hitting the big time—a film career—with his role as a hunky explorer on a popular American TV show. Success should be just around the corner, as long as he keeps his sexual orientation a secret. Wes’s best friend and beard, Julia Compton, forms the other half of a glamorous Hollywood couple that’s merely a façade.

Evan Taylor left his acting career behind five years ago without looking back. He’s always been more comfortable around horses than people—especially Hollywood types. His new life training racehorses is a dream come true, but increasing financial problems and an abusive boyfriend have him doubting himself and his choices.

Then Wes and his friends buy a third-rate racehorse—partially for publicity—and send him to Evan’s stable. Wes’s friendship with Evan soon develops into an overpowering attraction he can’t act on. He’s never met a man like Evan, but if there’s any chance for a future together, Wes must choose between a career he loves and the man he adores.

Buy Links:   Dreamspinner Press       ARe       Amazon   Amazon Print  Barnes&Noble  Barnes & Noble Print

Excerpt:

“I’m heading down to watch them saddle the horses so I can decide which one to bet on.” Vanessa gave them a dangerous wave of her talons and left Wes and Julia alone in the private grandstand box at Los Alamitos race track.

Julia gave the binoculars back to Wes. “He’s gorgeous.” She winked.

“Which one do you like?” Wes asked, again looking through the binoculars.

“I thought we were talking about which one you like?”

“Number four.” Wes glanced down at Julia’s head. She was a good six inches shorter, and it was the view he often had to settle for.’

“Oh, really? I thought you’d go for one. Or at least his trainer.” She gave a silvery laugh and put her arm around his waist again.

Wes kept the glasses focused on runner number one’s trainer as he reached up to adjust the horse’s bridle. His navy sport coat rode up, giving Wes—and anyone else looking—a nice view of his arse in well-fitting dark-blue jeans. Wes held in the smile the sight induced and resigned himself to admiring the good-looking man from a distance. His light-brown hair fell in wavy curves and the full-lipped smile made Wes want to lick his own lips. Something about the chiseled chin and the shape of the man’s nose twigged a hazy memory Wes couldn’t quite bring to the surface.

 

Out of the Gate BadgeAuthor Links:

Facebook
Author Facebook Page
Pinterest
Twitter: @emlynley
Website

Tour Dates: June 6th, 2014

Tour Date:  June 12th at ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords

Tour Stops: Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Talon SO, Love Bytes, MM Good Books, My Fiction Nook, Prism Book Alliance

 

 

✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍

Contest Rules and Giveaway Links:  Must be 18 years of age or older.  Contest ends 6/18.  Visit Rafflecopter link to enter to win $10 Etsy Gift Card.
Rafflecopter Prize: $10 Etsy Gift Card