Scattered Thoughts Summary of Reviews for August 2013


August banner with pencils

August 2013 Review and Blog Summary:

5 Star Rating:

Fifty Fifty Chances Are (Chances Are #3) by Lee Brazil, contemporary
Ghost of a Chance (Chances Are #4) by Lee Brazil, contemporary
Wicked Guidance (Wicked’s Way #4) by Havan Fellows, contemporary
Wicked Incarcerations (Wicked’s Way #3) by Havan Fellows contemporarysummer images with book

4 to 4.75 Star Rating:

Chances Are (Chances Are #1) by Lee Brazil (4.5 stars) contemporary
Dance Only For Me (Dance With The Devil #6) by Megan Derr (4.75 stars) fantasy
Demolished by Astrid Amara (4 stars), contemporary
Home Sweet Home (Home #5) by T.A. Chase, (4.5 stars) contemporary
Second Chances Are (Chances Are #2) by Lee Brazil
The Beast Without by Christian Baines (4.75 stars) supernatural
Welcome, Brother (College Fun and Gays #5) by Erica Pike (4 stars) contemporary
Wicked Bindings (Wicked’s Ways #2) by Havan Fellows
Wicked Solutions (Wicked’s Ways #1) by Havan Fellows

3 to 3.75 Star Rating:

Burden by Annmarie McKenna (3.5 stars) contemporary
Faire Fugitive by Madeleine Ribbon (3.75 stars) fantasy
Fall For Me (Rock Gods #1) by Ann Lister, contemporary
Handle With Care by Josephine Myles (3.5 stars) contemporary
Mixed Tapes, Vol. 2 by Kris Jacen editor (3.5 stars) contemporary
Nischal (Leopard’s Spots #9) by Bailey Bradford (3.75 stars) supernatural
Subtle Innuendos (Mixed Tape series) by Z. Allora (3 stars) contemporary
The Boy Who Came In From The Cold by B.G. Thomas ((3 stars) contemporary

2 to 2.75 Star Rating:

The Queen’s Librarian by Carole Cummings (2.75 stars) fantasy

1 to 1.75 Star Rating:

Aching For It (Dominican Heat #1) by Stanley Bennett Clay (1 star) contemporary

Other Blogs:
Author Spotlight: Havan Fellows    
Author Spotlight: Lee Brazil
Wait? That Was The Ending? A Writing Mini rant From Scattered Thoughts

Review: Welcome, Brother (College Fun and Gays #5) by Erica Pike


Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Welcome Brother coverArts student Kyler Morris has heard all about The Nova Britannia Brotherhood at college.  Unlike the other fraternities, The Nova Britannia Brotherhood works for charities and supports the college clubs and athletics that none of the other Greek organizations do, like fencing, the Chess Club ,the Knitting Club and more.  But the real reason Kyler applies for membership is that the members of the Nova Britannia Brotherhood are some of the most well connected people in every known industry.  Once a member graduates, he is assured of a job in the profession of his choice.  But first Kyler has to get accepted and that means passing the inspection of the most idolized and important man in the fraternity, Nova Britannia Brotherhood President Hunter Kingsley.

Once accepted Kyler finds out that Hunter isn’t as intimidating as he thought.  In fact, Hunter takes Tyler as his protege and a relationship is formed.  But both young men are hiding secrets.  Kyler is gay and crushing heavily on Hunter.  Hunter too has a hidden agenda, one he has pursued for several years.  When all the secrets come out in the open, will Kyler, Hunter and the Nova Britannia Brotherhood survive?

Welcome, Brother is the fifth book in the College Fun and Gays series by Erica Pike and one I enjoyed immensely.  I have read most of the books in this series and found them generally to be an uneven lot.  But like the stories I liked best, These Walls Have Ears and Grade-A-Sex Deal, these story has memorable characters and a great plot.

The Nova Britannia Brotherhood is unlike the other Greek fraternities in that it is more inclined toward social good and charities than bongs and beer parties or at least that was its origin.  There was an interval where a certain faction dismissed it founding mission and guidelines and tarnished its reputation.  But under the leadership of Hunter Kingsley, the organization has returned to its illustrious status and moving forward with new goals and membership.  Pike gives the reader a neat twist on the typical college fraternity story while still holding on to the elements that draw a reader in.  I liked her setting and thought her descriptions really brought the college and Brotherhood alive for us.

Placed in this setting is a trio of likable and endearing characters.  Kyler Morris, Hunter Kingsley, and Liu Wong, a trio of vulnerability and intelligence. While the main characters involved in a romance are Kyler and Hunter, Liu adds a lively and ultimately pain filled note to the story.  Gay bashing figures strongly in this story as does its impact upon its victim.  Pike treats this issue with intelligence and sensitivity, just a great job. Pike has made all three young students not only realistic but worthy of our empathy and affection.  Hunter Kingsley especially could have and initially does come off as too good to be true.  But there are hidden depths and angst to Hunter that are slowly revealed as the story moves forward.  Kyler is adorably young and impressionable.  And Liu is a friend anyone would be proud to have.  We like them and therefore, care greatly about their future.

If there is to be a quibble, it deals with the ending.    It seems to be missing a chapter or two, an epilogue at the very least.  For me, it just seems it  ends without a clear resolution or additional information.  And these are characters that deserve that and so much more.  If this story came with a more polished and complete ending, it would have garnered a 5 star rating.  But that quibble aside, I loved these characters and this story.  I recommend it as a quick and delightful read.

The books in this series can be read as stand alone stories. Books in the College Fun and Gays series are as follows:

Hot Hands (College Fun and Gays, # 1)

Grade-A-Sex Deal (College Fun and Gays, #2)

The Walls Have Ears (College Fun and Gays, #3)

Little Stalker (College Fun and Gays #4)

Welcome, Brother (College Fun and Gays #5)

Cold Hands (College Fun and Gays, #6)

College Fun and Gays: Anthology One

Book Details:

ebook, Second Edition, 35 pages

Published July 12th 2013 by Ice Cave Publishing (first published April 27th 2013)
ISBN13 9789935915443
edition language English
series: College fun and Gays
Previously published by No Boundaries Press at 29 pages

This Week’s Reviews From Scattered Thoughts


Just coming off a wonderful and exhausting week of company and lunch with my fellow Metro M/M Romance Group.  A friend on her way back to the Azores stopped midway to stay with me last week.  It was a terrific visit and we got all caught up on things going on in our lives.  Then on Saturday, my M/M Romance Metro DC Group met at my house for drink, food and book talk.  It was great.  So Sunday?  That was the day I collapsed.  And cleaned.  And did some catchup writing. Now I am about a day behind but not feeling very guilty about it.  Everyone needs at least one day off and yesterday was mine.

So here is how the week is now shaking out.  Not an awesome week, there is one or two redeeming books.  I am saving one stupendously awful book for next week when I will have some great ones to balance it out.  And of course, I have to have one book rant included for the week as well.  This one involves book titles and the willy nilly manner in which some words are capitalized and others are not, depending upon editor, publisher and author.  Makes me crazy and now you are going to hear about it.

Monday, July 29, 2013:                 This Week’s Reviews

Tuesday, July 30, 2013:                 Fire and Light by Berengaria Brown

Wed., July 31, 2013:                        Grime and Punishment by Z.A. Maxfield

Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013:               The Boy Who Came In From the Cold by B. G. Thomas

Friday, Aug. 2, 2013:                     Welcome, Brother by Erica Pike

Saturday, Aug. 3, 2013:                Book Titles and Capital letters are Making me Crazy!

Crazy Week Ahead, Ghoulish Cocktail Recipes, and This Week’s Reviews


Sooooooo, sitting here wondering why I do things that make myself crazy.  I’m really not a masochistic sort, occasionally absent minded but truly, people,  usually I am a better planner than this.  So this week, the alarm people are coming to fix the alarm system that wants to beep, squeak, squeal, or otherwise make high pitched noises at all hours of the day, none of them actually caused by any realtime event. And all are picked up by Captain (African Grey Parrot) who finds these noises irresistible enough to mimic.  So even after they are banished , thanks to Captain’s skill at mimicry, they will always be with us. Cue the Excedrin.

Also this week?  A friend is coming to stay for the week.  I haven’t seen her in a while and I am looking forward to getting caught up on her life (outside of the computer chats) face to face.  So what else is also going on?  My wonderful book group is coming over on Sunday for lunch and togetherness, my niece and her boyfriend just flew in from CA for her birthday and my mother is making noises about a “birthday celebration” for my niece over at the Farm this weekend too.  What aligned among the stars and planets that said all this had to happen this week and weekend?  Hey! *waves hands frantically over head* Can we not do this?  Please?  This is making me crazy.  I  like to do things slowly, think the forward momentum of a sloth.  I enjoy getting ready for events and people the same way.  This is not making me happy.  Sigh.

So I plan on lots of writing today so I don’t have to do that as well.  Here is my schedule for the week if I am not carted off to Bedlam.

Monday, June 22:                    Sweet Young Thang by Anne Tenino

Tuesday, June 23:                    Parting Shot by Mary Calmes

Wednesday, June 24:              Welcome, Brother by Erica Pike

Thursday, June 25:                 Attachment Strings by Chris T. Kat

Friday, June 26:                       Vampirism and You (Guidebook #01) by Missouri Dalton

Saturday, June 27:                   Necromancy and You (Guidebook #02) by Missouri Dalton

Cocktail Recipes: In honor of Missouri Dalton’s new series which I absolutely adore, here are a couple of scary Cocktails to cool you off:

The Necromancer’s Martini:

Vampire Martini

1 part vodka
1 part strawberry liqueur
1 part lime juice
1 part cranberry juice

Pour all of the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice and shake well. Strain into a cocktail glass to serve.

Vampire Cocktail

Bloody Vampire Cocktail

1 part rum
1 part cherry kool aid

Pour both of the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice and shake well. Strain into a highball glass to serve.

Review of The Walls Have Ears (College Fun and Gays #3) by Erica Pike


Review written for and first viewed at JoyfullyJay as a part of Boys Masturbating Through Walls Day:

Rating: 3.25 stars

Harley Santos, newly arrived from small town, Maryland, is trying to adapt to his new life as a college freshman in Philadelphia.  While he had his fears about city living and life on campus before he left home, Harley has found he likes his roommate and college seems pretty cool.  In his first week in his dorm room he listen through the thin wall to a student masturbating on the other side.  When this becomes a regular occurrence,  Harley starts masturbating along with his unseen neighbor. Shared moans become whispered words between walls and a strange relationship developes between Harley and the unknown boy next door.

After Harley and his roommate, Ryan, have a chance meeting with the two hot guys, Devon Marx and Tasha Novokov, rooming next to them, Harley thinks he knows which of them is his nightly “companion”. But that guy, Devon, asks Ryan out instead of Harley, and Harley is heartbroken believing that Ryan has been mistaken for him. The other roommate, Tasha,  is dark, handsome, straight and seems intent on befriending Harley.  What’s a gay boy to do when everyone he is attracted to is not attracted to him?

This is a short story whose main attraction is the prickly little porcupine known as Harley Santos.  I found his character to be snarky, pissy, and quite adorable. And totally not deserving of the predictable plot he has found himself in.  Harley comes from a large close knit Portuguese family in a small town in Maryland.  He’s tortured himself with scary images of the dark side of city life and the what if’s of college gone bad.  He’s slight in stature, slender in physique so I can see his behavior as a shield he erects against slights and injury, real or perceived. So does it seem realistic that he falls “in love” with the guy next door just because they are masturbating together?  It doesn’t to me.  Lust yes, love to the point of his heart breaking when Devon picks his roommate? Ummm, no.

Harley then transfers his affections to Tasha while maintaining that he loves Devon who loves Ryan who is understandably confused about the whole thing because no one is talking to each other. Got that? Instead letting Harley get his snark on, Erica Pike turns him into avoidance guy, and then has him sobbing his heart out so traumatized that he is stuttering again (we didn’t know he stuttered to begin with).  To use the current lingo, Harley so doesn’t deserve this.

By the end of The Walls Have Ears, I was beginning to wish that This Reader Didn’t Have Eyes because the ending had me blinking in disbelief.  Erica Pike can write realistic characters AND put them into realistic situations, at the same time.  Just don’t look for it here.

Cover.  Cover Artist Dakota Trace. I just don’t care for the cover for the series .  Different color, different model on the top, same bad graphic on the bottom.

Publisher: No Boundaries Press

Review of Grade-A-Sex Deal (College Fun and Gays, #2) by Erica Pike


Grade-A-Sex Deal (College Fun and Gays #2)

Rating: 5 stars

Daniel Corrigan hates his life.  He used to have it all.  Affluent lifestyle complete with great paying job, loving wife, two children, great house and even a dog.  Now all gone because he simply couldn’t live a lie any longer.  With two little words “I’m gay”,  he’s lost everything and everyone in his life, with the exception of his brother, a college principal.

Now depressed, penniless and living in a college dorm room, Daniel makes a living teaching macroeconomics at his brother’s university. The only bright spot in his life is Troy Anderson, a sexy student in his class.  The deal they made, exchanging sexual favors for a favorable A in his class, is about to come to an end along with the semester and Daniel is not sure he can handle the loss. What will happen when the Grade-A-Sex deal comes to an end?

I love surprises and this short story is all that and a cupcake with dark chocolate sprinkles on top. From the title, I would never guess at the angst, bitterness, and despair that is emerges from the tale of Daniel’s life after he comes out.   I am always amazed at the courage it takes for someone to come out of the closet, whether they are a teenager or a middle aged adult.  While you hope with all your heart for acceptance and love, the stories you most often hear of those of loss, contempt, and pain.  Daniel is no different.  His expectations of his family’s reaction might have been naive but the actuality of their disgust and rejection was crushing. Erica Pike got this so right, I often had tears in my eyes as I read the story (and this is a short story mind you).

Daniel’s room is littered with the debris of his life, left over food containers, clothes he can’t be bothered washing, all symptoms of a deeply depressed man just going through the motions.  Every detail Erica Pike paints for us is meticulous.  There is not a false word or emotion here.  Troy Anderson has surprises of his own in store for us.  Needless to say, my lips are sealed here.  Just know that Troy is no cardboard figure, he too is fully alive and breathing.  It just takes a little longer to get to know him.  The sex is hot, fast, and overlaid with desperation.

When I first read about the sex for grades issue, it bothered me, but as I got further into the story, it became easier to accept. Daniel had only done it a few times and it fit right in with his poor self esteem and “hitting rock bottom.” If one ignores the depression cycle he is on, his behavior is hard to understand. As it is, he is not a likeable human being at the beginning of the story. However, the deal entered into between the teacher and the student here is a way for the older man to have any type of a relationship with this man he has come to love. It is more a ploy of desperation than something he does with others, and he despises himself for it.

I have not read the first College Fun and Gays story. I really don’t feel its necessary in order to read and appreciate the beauty of this little gem.  But you know that I won’t be able to rest until I go back to the beginning of the series.  I will let you all know what I find.  In the meantime, you will just love this!

Cover:  I don’t know if it is just me but any cover color in the red range is hard on my eyes and this is no exception.  There are some wonderful graphics in the background that really clue you into the story but they are lost with the highlighted image of the college.  I also  prefer a stylistically plainer font. IMO, it’s just easier to read. Grade A story, Grade C cover.

Book available from No Boundaries Press, Amazon, and ARe