So Long 2017! Hello 2018! It’s Our Final 2017 Best of Lists. This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words.


So Long 2017! Hello 2018! It’s Our Final 2017 Best of Lists.

Well, today as we usher out 2017 (and I can’t say I’m entirely sorry to see it go), I will say it’s been a wonderful year in terms of stories, at least for me, and as far as I can tell, for some of you too.  So buckle up, my buttercups, grab something to make lists with, whether it be old fashioned paper and pen or your smartphone or pad, and prepare yourself for some marvelous Best of Lists from readers, reviewers, and myself!


There have been series that ended this year (and I’m including trilogies here) that were just outstanding, new discoveries made of authors both established and newly published, great stories that cut to the heart of why we read, and series that either started or continued that made us laugh, cry, blew our minds with the author’s creativity and wild imaginations!  Oh the joy of it all!


Plus the happiness that we here at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words have been able to share it all with you and have heard from you in return.  It’s been a very rich year indeed.

Best of

From Our Readers


My Bests:
Best Contemporary is tough. I liked How To Bang A Billionaire by Alexis Hall, Illegal Contact by Santino Hassell, and Rule Breaker by Lily Morton.
Best Fantasy for me would be The Heart of The Lost Star by Megan Derr, Lord Mouse by Mason Thomas, A Destiny of Dragons by T.J. Klune. I wasn’t sure if I should add Broken by Jex Lane to this, or have it be Best Paranormal? Let’s go with that.
Best Science Fiction would be Moro’s Price by M. Crane Hana and Dali by E.M. Hamill.
Best Cover. Natasha Snow has had an awesome year! Controlled Burn and Adrift are some favorites. The Foxling Soldati cover by L.C. Chase and One Last Try cover by Lou Harper are also eye catching.


My 5* reads from this year
The Executive Office series, Tal Bauer
Sins of the cities series, KJ Charles
Forever Haunt (Jimmy McSwain 5), Adam Carpenter
This Fire Inside, Jordan Nasser
What It Looks Like, Matthew J Metzger
Wolfsong, TJ Klune
Priddys Tale, Harper Fox
Bitter Legacy, Dal Maclean
Switched, NR Walker
The Definitive Albert J Sterne, Julie Bozza
Reaping Fate, AJ Rose

From Ana:

My Bests:
Best Mystery: Kill Game by Cordelia Kingsbridge and Risky Behavior by LA Witt & Cari Z
Best Audiobook: Femme by Marshall Thornton
Best Cover:Antisocial by Heidi Cullinan
Best Contemporary (this is hard to choose, so many good ones): Becoming Kerry by Lynn Kelling, The Impossible Boy by Anna Martin, Off the Ice by Avon Gale and Piper Vaugh, Manic Pixie Dream Boy by KA Merikan and Disease by Hans M Hirshchi
Best Dark Theme: Backdoor Politics by CL Mustafic


Favorite On-Going Series in 2017

Hexworld by Jordan L. Hawk
Aberrant Magic by Lyn Gala
Offbeat Crimes by Angel Martinez
Bad Behavior by L.A. Witt and Cari Z
Rainbow Cove by Annabeth Albert
Scoring Chances by Avon Gale

and more from Didi:

I’m adding two more lists of mine here, for PNR and May/December (or Age-Gap as one MC’s not into his December yet 😉 ).

Best Paranormal Romance:
– Spectred Isle by KJ Charles
– Hexslayer by Jordan L. Hawk
– Undertow by Jordan L. Hawk
– The Well by Marie Sexton
– Fraud Twice Felt by JT Hall

Best May/December Romance:
– Off the Ice by Avon Gale & Piper Vaughn
– Spun! by JL Merrow
– Trust the Chaser by Annabelle Albert
– Risky Behavior by LA Witt & Cari Z (I cheated, it’s more age-gap than May/December, I think)
– Permanent Ink by Avon Gale & Piper Vaughn

Best of Lists from STRW

 More from Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Reviewers:

 From Lila:

Looking back on my shelves, The Best of 2017 (according to me) are:

January – Chosen Pride by Mary Calmes
February – Red Dirt Heart by N.R. Walker
March – Borrowing Trouble by Kade Boehme
April – Tell Me the Truth by Lisa Oliver
May –  The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich
June – The Palisade by Rosalind Abel
July – That Alien Feeling by Alessandra Hazard
August – The Heart of the Lost Star by Megan Deer
September – Strange Bedfellows by Cardeno C.
October – Locked in Silence by Sloane Kennedy
November – The Hideaway by Rosalind Abel
December – An Omega for Christmas by L.C. Davis
And some extra mentions:

·         Best Read for STRWBonfires by Amy Lane

MelanieM Best of 2017

Here are my lists, many and long as I warned everyone.  What a year and I still mourn the books I hesitatingly left off.  These are listed in absolutely no particular order excerpt that I was scrambling to look at my notes and books kept popping up here and there….

♥︎Best Contemporary Fiction with Romance

Ghost (Executioners #1) by J.M Dabney
Joker (Executioners #2) by J.M Dabney
Watermelon Kisses by Freddy Mackay
There’s This Guy by Rhys Ford
Shelter the Sea (The Roosevelt, #2) by Heidi Cullinan
Antisocial by Heidi Cullinan
Switched by NR Walker
Late in the Day (The Vault #2) by Mary Calmes
Micah Johnson Goes West (Get Out #2)
by Sean Kennedy
House of Cards (Porthkennack #4) by Garrett Leigh
Foxglove Copse (Porthkennack #5) by Alex Beecroft
Fair Chance (All’s Fair #3) by Josh Lanyon
Hawaiian Orchid (The Hawaiians 2) by Meg Amor
Snowblind by Eli Easton
Who We Are by Nicola Haken
Fishy Riot by Lindsey Black
Rhino Ash by Lindsey Black

Bonfires by Amy Lane
Catch and Release (The Release, #3) by B.A. Tortuga

♥︎Best Contemporary Fiction (not a romance)

Blood Stained Tea (The Yakuza Path #1) by Amy Tasukada

♥︎Best Science Fiction

The Stark Divide (Liminal Sky #1) by J. Scott Coatsworth
Sūnder (Darksoul #1) by Lexi Ander
The Jackal’s House (Lancaster’s Luck #2) by Anna Butler – steampunk

 ♥︎Best of Fantasy:

His Mossy Boy (Being(s) in Love#8) by R. Cooper
Dim Sum Asylum by Rhys Ford
The Heart of the Lost Star by Megan Derr
Ravens (Inheritance #3) by Amelia Faulkner

♥︎Best Supernatural/Paranormal:

Bitten by Design (Regent’s Park Pack #2) by Annabelle Jacobs
Skim Blood and Savage Verse (Offbeat Crimes #3) by Angel Martinez (actually all the books in this series)

♥︎Best Series:

Aisling Trilogy by Carole Cummings (high fantasy)
The Hawaiians by Meg Amor (contemporary romance)
Offbeat Crimes by Angel Martinez (humor, fantasy, supernatural)
Nicky and Noah Mysteries by Joe Cosentino  (high camp, high humor, mystery)
Inheritance by Amelia Faulkner (fantasy, supernatural)
The Kingdom Series (Vol 1 & 2) by RJ Scott (fantasy)
Rainbow Cove by Annabeth Albert
#gaymers by Annabeth Albert
Being(s) in Love by R. Cooper
The Release series by BA Tortuga
The Sin Bin by Dahlia Donovan (contemporary)
The Yakuza Path series by Amy Tasukada (contemporary fiction) violent, bloody, brilliant, not romance)

 ♥︎Great Series Ending:

Sanctuary Series by RJ Scott
Texas Series by RJ Scott
Mahu by Neil S. Plakcy
All’s Fair by Josh Lanyon
Werecat series by Andrew J. Peters
Holiday with the Bellskis by Astrid Amara
End Street Detectives by RJ Scott (supernatural)


♥︎Holiday Series ~ special mention:Holidays with the Bellskis Series by Astrid Amara (final story just out)
Carol of the Bellskis (Bellskis, #1) by Astrid Amara
Miracle of the Bellskis (Bellskis, #2) by Astrid Amara
Wedding Bellskis (Holidays with the Bellskis, #3) by Astrid Amara

♥︎Best Covers:​

















A Destiny of Dragons (Tales From Verania) by TJ Klune, Artist Paul Richmond
Red Fish, Dead Fish (Fish Out of Water#2) by Amy Lane, Artist: Reese Dante
Sunset at Pencarrow (World of Love)
by Lou Sylvre and Anne Barwell, Artist: Reese Dante
An Island in the Stars by Susan Laine, Artist:  Anna Sikorska
Antisocial by Heidi Cullinan, Cover art by Natsukoworks, Cover design by Kanaxa Designs.
The Lure of Port Stephen by Sydney Blackburn, Artist Natasha Snow
Manny Get Your Guy (The Mannies #2) by Amy Lane, Artist: Paul Richmond
Comes a Horseman (Echoes Rising #3) by Anne Barwell, Artist: Reese Dante
A New Way to Dance by Sean Michael, Artist: Anne Squires
The Glamour Thieves by Don Allmon, Artist: Simone
By Jana Denardo, Artist: Melody Pond
Sūnder (Darksoul #1) by Lexi Ander, Artist:Kirby Crow
The Blacksmith Prince by Beryll & Osiris Brackhaus, Artist:  Lady Tiferet
Foxglove Copse (Porthkennack #5) by Alex Beecroft, Artist: G.D. Leigh







Well those are my choices and I’m sure I’ve even left a quite of few out.  How did all of your lists come out?  Did you all find some new books to add to your TBR lists on everyone’s Best of Lists?  Winner Announcements to come next week as they would get lost and we need to have something to look forward to!

Have a Safe and Happy New Year!  See you all in 2018!  Happy Reading from Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words to all of you!


This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, December 31- Happy New Eve’s:

  • So Long 2017! Hello 2018! It’s Our Final 2017 Best of Lists.
  • This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words.
  • A Stella Advent Release Day Review: Eugene and the Box of Nails by Jaime Samms

Monday, January 1:

  • Book Blitz: Blackwelder 2164 by Christopher D. J
  • BLITZ The Calling by MD Neu
  • RIPTIDE TOUR Reckless Behavior by LA Witt and Cari Z
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Operation Green Card by GB Gordon
  • A Kai Audiobook Review: Nachos & Hash by Brandon Witt and Dominic Carlos (Narrator)
  • A MelanieM Review: Hurricane by BA Tortuga

Tuesday, January 2:

  • Cover Reveal for Shae Connor’s Teaching Ben
  • DSP Promo K.A. Mitchell
  • RIPTIDE TOUR On Solid Ground by Quinn Anderson
  • Tour: A Different Light by Morningstar Ashley
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: Prelude to Love by Anne Barwell
  • A MelanieM Review: Bound by Thorns (Dragon Soul #3) by Sean Michael

Wednesday, January 3:

  • Blog Tour *Won’t Feel A Thing by C.F. White
  • Release Blitz – Bonnie Dee – The Fortune Hunter
  • DSP Dreamspun Promo Anne Barwell
  • A VVivacious Review: OBSESSION by Theophilia St. Claire​
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Outside the Lines by Anna Zabo
  • A MelanieM Review: Wait For Me by Kris Jacen

Thursday, January 4:

  • Release Blitz & Review Tour Request – Sam Burns – Blackbird In The Reeds
  • Sin and Saint by J.M. Dabney RDB, Tour
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: Sin and Saint by J.M. Dabney
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Reckless Behavior by LA Witt and Cari Z
  • A Stella Review: The Best Gift by Shawn Lane
  • An Alisa Review Wolf’s Kiss by Siryn Sueng

Friday, January 5:

  • Dreamspinner Promo: Alix Bekins and Connie Bailey, authors of Song and Key
  • Release Blitz – Vows Box Set – Addison Albright
  • RELEASE BLITZ Felix and the Prince by Lucy Lennox
  • A MelanieM Audiobook Review: Smitty’s Sheriff by Cardeno C
  • A Stella Pre Release Review: When the Devil Wants In by Cate Ashwood and JH Knight
  • An Alisa Prerelease Review: Forever With You By Londra Laine

Saturday, January 6:

  • A MelanieM Review: Ghoulish by Kat Bellamy





An Author’s Interview with Gene Gant of In Time I Dream About You (author guest interview/new book release)


In Time I Dream About You by Gene Gant
Harmony Ink Press
Cover Artist: Garrett Leigh

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Gene Gant here today talking about writing, books and In Time I Dream About You, the author’s latest release from Harmony Ink Press!

How much of yourself goes into a character?

Very little, if anything at all. I strive to make every character as distinct a person as possible. In the process of writing, each character becomes a separate individual to me, with his or her own personality, history, political views and opinions. As such, they often take off in directions that surprise me, pulling the story in an entirely unexpected direction. I always work from an outline of the plot, but I’m forced to be flexible with it when a character takes control of things. There really isn’t much opportunity for me to insert any of my experiences or personal views under such circumstances. (Although a character occasionally likes my favorite food, reads one of my favorite books, or dresses in a style I personally favor.) Besides, I’m not all that interesting. Readers want compelling characters. Unlike Gavin Goode, for example, I’ve so far lived a fairly uneventful life. Or, as Donald Trump might tweet: BORING.

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

My publisher has a team of artists who work with authors to create covers. They begin with a series of questions to get an understanding of the plot, setting and characters along with the writer’s preferences. Using that information, they prepare two or more drafts of what will eventually become the cover. A great cover has to be eye-catching, convey a general sense of the story’s mood and pull the reader in. I usually go for the one that invokes the biggest emotional response in me, the one that makes me want to jump in and inhabit the world it depicts.

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

Yes, definitely. I’ve always enjoyed fiction across a variety of genres, some of my favorites being contemporary, romance, mystery, fantasy, science fiction and horror. The stories I write fall mostly in the genres I love to read. I sometimes combine genres, as in the case of In Time I Dream About You, which is a blend of romance and science fiction/urban fantasy. Ironically, as a teenager, I read mostly adult novels by the likes of Stephen King, Peter Straub, James Patterson, John Grisham, J.R.R. Tolkien, Eric Jerome Dickey and Sue Grafton. Now, as an adult, I find myself reading an awful lot of—some would say far too much—young adult fiction.   

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’ve had to put stories aside for a variety of reasons. Sometimes I lose interest in the main character, which is never a good sign. Occasionally, I discover that an idea just doesn’t come together in the writing and needs to be revamped

In Time I Dream About You actually began as a tale more heavily tilted toward romance than science fiction, with Cato as the main character who falls in love with Gavin while observing him from the future. He knows Gavin dies in a tragic event and is torn between letting history take its course or violating the law against changing the past and saving Gavin. Perhaps a third of the way into the story, I found myself getting stuck. I’d fire up my computer and sit there staring at the screen, unable to write a word. I moved on to another project, unsure whether the story would ever get finished. After a few months, I read through what I’d written so far and realized I was focusing more on Gavin than Cato, because Gavin’s life was resonating more emotionally with me than Cato’s. Once I shifted the point of view to Gavin, I finished the story rather quickly. Gavin’s tale was less romantic than Cato’s would have been, but for me, the heart of the story was with him.

What’s next for you as an author?

At the moment, I’m working on a young adult novel about a lonely fifteen-year-old boy who gets dumped by his girlfriend and is surprised to find himself falling for one of his male teachers.  It’s more of a coming of age story than a romance, with the kid having to face certain truths about himself and the people in his life. I also have this idea percolating in my head about a boy who discovers he is adopted when his birth parents surface unexpectedly in his life, just as he is settling into a relationship with his new boyfriend. Beyond that, I have no other stories planned…yet, I should add. Ideas for stories tend to pop out of the blue on me, and I’m sure it won’t be long before my mind is conjuring up new characters and situations.


Gavin Goode, a promising high school athlete with good grades, forfeited his future when he joined a brutal street gang called the Cold Bloods. The gang’s leader, Apache, discovered Gavin is gay and framed him for murder. Now in prison, Gavin faces rape and abuse on a daily basis as gang members there attempt to break him. When his father is critically injured and Gavin reaches his lowest point, a mysterious ally appears. Cato is much more than the guard he seems. He has come from the future, and he possesses the technology to undo everything that’s gone wrong in Gavin’s life.

But meddling in the timeline has dire consequences, and Gavin faces an impossible decision: sacrifice himself and his father, or let thousands of innocents die instead.

About the Author

‘m Tennessean by birth, a resident of Memphis for most of my life. I tried living in a few northern cities after graduating from college, but I couldn’t take the brutal winters, and I missed good ol’ southern barbecue. Now I make my home on a country lane outside of Memphis. When I’m not reading, working out, watching movies or spending time with family and friends, you can find me tapping away at my computer.


Pearl Love on Writing, Books and her latest novel ‘Salvation’s Song’ from Harmony Ink Press (author interview)


Salvation’s Song by Pearl Love
armony Ink Press
May 16th 2017
Cover Artist: Paul Richmond

Available for Purchase at

Harmony Ink Press

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Pearl Love here today.  Welcome, Pearl, and thanks for answering some of our author questions for us!


~Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Pearl Love~

  • How much of yourself goes into a character?

It varies from story to story, but in the case of “Salvation’s Song,” quite a lot.  The most obvious (to anyone who knows me) is the fact that Jeremy is a band geek. I played in band from the time I was in fifth grade through my senior year of college. It was my most singular defining characteristic as a kid. I never particularly felt like I fit in well with my peers, but being in band gave me a sense of belonging. 

I also borrowed heavily from my personal experiences to create Tyrell’s grandmother. I am extremely close to my own, and she is suffering from some of the same difficulties, though fortunately at a much older age. I wanted to try and convey that sense of helplessness and absolute love between Tyrell and Lucille. Having her illness be the result of something more than nature gone awry was my attempt to make sense out of things.

Lastly, there’s Tyrell’s mother, who I assured my own mom is no reflection on her whatsoever. LOL! The only resemblance is that they are both heavily into church, but really, that’s it. 

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

I have tried writing contemporary (and will again very soon), but I’m not very good at it. I’m an aromantic asexual, so I have very limited real life experience with romance or relationships. It’s all fantasy to me, which is why I have no difficulty writing gay men even though I’m not one. I do have a tendency to insert fantastical elements into modern-day settings, which I’ve done with this story as well.  So, I guess my preferred genre these days is urban fantasy. I find it fascinating to think about the mundane and then turn it on its ear in some interesting way. In this case, I decided to meld the ancient (Assyrian gods and demons) with the world of high schoolers trying to determine their sense of self. So, the research for “Salvation’s Song” focused mainly on the supernatural aspects, since they are based on an actual religious construct.

I also really wanted to make the city of Chicago a character in the story. I grew up there and visit my family there as often as possible. It’s such a beautiful city with a lot of diversity in terms of neighborhoods and people. Being able to revisit the haunts of my youth, as well as discover new places I’ve never been, has been wonderful. Thank goodness for Google maps!!

For other books I’ve done, in particular The Garden series, which is set in Victorian London, I have to research every aspect of the story. I was never into history when I was younger, but lately it has become a singular fascination. Writing in a world that is part of the not-too-distant past but that is so different from our modern day-to-day has been a real treat.

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

Honestly, it’s been a long time since I’ve ready in either of those genres. I’m not a fan of the current trend for depressing teenage dystopias…expect for the Maze Runner series (thank you Dylan!).  I was heavily into fantasy and sci-fi when I was younger, so my love of those types of stories has definitely carried forward into my own work.

  • 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?

Here’s where I get to give my plug for plotting vs pantsing. For anything longer than a short story, I never type a word until I have the story completely plotted out. That way, I know exactly where I need to end up and generally how to get there. Some of the details may change as I write to accommodate the flow of the story or characters that get unruly, but for the most part, my outline dictates everything. Fortunately, this has allowed me to avoid getting stuck.

As for the emotional aspect of a story, since I’m not drawing on any personal experiences, I can stay detached from my characters to a degree. I would never write a story that doesn’t affect me on an emotional level, but the mechanics of getting the story into words gives me distance. That being said, when going back to edit a story for submission, I have occasionally surprised myself and teared up. I try to put a story away for a good length of time after writing the first complete draft so I can read it with fresh eyes. When I’m not buried in the technicalities of grammar and word choice, I can appreciate the story more for its emotion. If I sniff, I know I’ve done my job.

  • Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

Since romance is like fantasy to me, I treat it as such. “Once upon a time” leading to “happily ever after.” I honestly don’t see the point in HFN. If I’ve taken the trouble to guide my characters through an emotional journey toward each other, I want it to stick! Relationships fail or fade away in real life. I don’t need to read about it in a romance novel. Of course, anyone who has read “’Til Darkness Falls” is probably laughing or screaming at me right now. LOL!

  • Do you read romances, as a teenager and as an adult?

I’m giggling because of a particular thing that happened to me in high school. When I was a freshman, I got caught reading a Harlequin romance in class. How? I was hiding it behind my text book and it fell out onto the floor. I was sitting in the first row. Yeah. I was an aide for the teacher because I was a total goodie-two-shoes. During my next volunteer time with that teacher, I apologized profusely for what happened. She just laughed and said, “That’s why you have such a good vocabulary.” Nice!

To answer the question, yes. I read romances like they were going out of style! My grandmother had a huge collection, and I steadily made my way through them starting at age twelve when she finally let me see one.  At first, she would only let me read the ones with little or no smut, but I would sneak the juicier titles while she wasn’t looking. I fell off only after I went to college and my supply dried up.  Now, I read mainly M/M romance, a lot of them in manga form.

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

I know there are people who are devoted to print, but I am not one of them. I have a ton of books. My house is a fire hazard! But the ability to have so many reading options on a single device like my Kindle or tablet is miraculous! Not having to deal with physical books just makes everything easier, particularly when I’m commuting to and from work or when I want to read in bed at night with the lights off.

I’m pretty sure there will always be some market for paper books, but I honestly believe the market is shifting permanently toward digital. With every generation that lives more of their lives on computers and mobile devices, the demand for physical reading material will shrink. It’s sad to a degree, but progress is all about change. I welcome our ebook overlords!

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

It really depends for some books (“To Be Human”/”To Be Loved”) I wanted the covers to reflect a moment from the story. For The Garden series, the covers reflect the setting of Victorian London or of the brothel. The original DSP cover for “’Til Darkness Falls” was intended to be a puzzle where elements from the story and the characters were hidden or in plain view. For “Salvation’s Song” I wasn’t really certain what I wanted, but I am thrilled with what the DSP/Harmon Ink art department came up with. The elements of the story, in particular Jeremy’s pendant and the music theme, are the prominent features, which is simply perfect.  The type of cover I would reject is one that has zero connection to the fabric of the characters or the plot. I’m not a fan of posed bodies that are just there to be seen. I also don’t love photo covers because the models never look how I pictured my characters, but I suspect most authors feel that way.

  • Do you have a favorite among your own stories?  And why?

My favorite is probably still my first: “’Til Darkness Falls.” It is my most ambitious plot, and I poured months (if not years) of effort into creating it. There is a lot my personality in Brian (bless his shy, awkward heart), but I absolutely fell in love with Alrick. I made him a sexy, cheesy romantic cello player who is a contentious assassin. Marry me! And now you know more about me than you probably want to. *smile*

  • What’s next for you as an author?

I am currently working on the third book in The Garden series. I also have a contemporary (gasp!) in the hopper. It will feature an established couple that goes through some pretty serious drama. After that, I will work on the next book in the Salvation series. Since it is a YA series with Harmony Ink, I am going to try stepping outside my M/M comfort zone and to tackle a F/F couple. Wish me luck!

“Salvation’s Song” blurb

Only a chosen few can prevent an ancient evil from overtaking the world: the Singers, the Seekers, and the Saviors….

Tyrell Hughes and Jeremy Michalak are both juniors at Winton Yowell High School in Chicago, and aside from sharing a homeroom, they couldn’t be more different. Tyrell is well-liked, surrounded by friends, popular with girls, and looking forward to a bright future. Jeremy transfers to Winton Yowell to escape the troubles of his past. He’s hoping to survive his last two years of high school by flying under his new classmates’ gaydar and indulging in his passion: playing clarinet.

Tyrell and Jeremy struggle to ignore their attraction to each other. But that becomes increasingly difficult as young people across the city start dying. Both teens realize they alone know the true cause of the tragedies—and have the ability to put a stop to them. They’re the city’s only chance to defeat the dark forces threatening it, but to succeed, they’ll need to find common ground and reconcile the desires they’re trying to deny.

About the Author

Writing Manly Romance From The Heart! Pearl Love has been writing since she was a kid, but it was the pretty boys who frolic around in her head who finally convinced her to pursue it seriously. She’s a mid-west transplant who current thrives in the hustle and bustle of the nation’s capital. She enjoys any type of story so long as the boy gets the boy. Pearl is a Marvel fan girl and owns a ridiculous stash of knitting supplies.

Facebook: Pearl Love Books (

Twitter: @pearllovebooks

A Caryn YA Release Day Review: Driven by MB Mulhall


Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I found this book a frustrating combination of a nice spin on the hurt/comfort trope, but with frequent sections that bothered me: long boring inner monologues by the main character, Oliver, and moments of incredible stupidity that literally made me want to DNF the book several times. I persevered because I was reading it for this review, and in the end I was glad I did, but it was close! Oliver is a homeless young man who is brought out of the vicious cycle of his self-recrimination and loathing by the kindness of several people in the community. His love interest, Simon, is actually a rather small part of the group that ultimately makes Oliver believe that he can be loveable, and I thought that was pretty refreshing.

The book starts with a flash forward to a moment when it seems that Oliver is dying. He is thinking of all the people he will miss, and the story truly commences at the time when he first meets the main secondary characters in the book. Two kind old ladies offer him a place in their home on a provisional basis, with the expectation that he help them out around the house. In addition to food and shelter, they offer him respect and kindness, which he has a hard time accepting as he has come to think of himself as the worst kind of criminal. There are hints about an accident, and incarceration, though the details are not revealed (and then only sketchily so) until later in the book. Simon is the boy next door who also befriends the skittish Oliver and encourages him to stay and give the old ladies, and himself, a chance. In the end, of course, Oliver learns to believe in himself and have faith in others, and has a promising future – and that’s not really a spoiler, just the expected resolution of a hurt/comfort romance.

The tragic events in Oliver’s past life were only somewhat vaguely explained, and I didn’t truly follow the path from accident to jail to homelessness. It was all fueled by Oliver’s self-hate, but those endless monologues just made me think he was whiny rather than feeling compassionate for his suffering. He also several times got into situations that he responded to with “too stupid to live” actions that just made no sense, when he was otherwise supposed to be a pretty smart guy. Those seemed like gratuitous drama and angst to me, and completely turned me off. I think different writing could have made me believe that Oliver’s self-hate was justified, but I just didn’t feel it. I didn’t get what his art had to do with anything, it really felt superfluous to his personality and to the story. I never understood what kind of hold Marcus had (the bad guy) had over him. The book was also fairly long for the plot and action that occurred, which I blame on those long monologues, and that made the pace of the book slow, and I found myself putting it down frequently to pursue something more exciting – like doing laundry.

I guess, in the end, the blurb was everything I wanted the story to be, but the execution was kind of a swing and a miss for me.

Cover art by Anna Sikorska was very appropriate for the story, and the empty section of highway was good for the initial somber tone of the story.

Sales Links

Harmony Ink Press

Book Details:

ebook, 210 pages
Published March 7th 2017 by Harmony Ink Press
ISBN 1635332796 (ISBN13: 9781635332797)
Edition LanguageEnglish

Francis Gideon on Trans Characters and the release The Santa Hoax by Francis Gideon



The Santa Hoax by Francis Gideon
armony Ink Press
Release: December 1 2016

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words would like to welcome Francis Gideon here today to talk about their latest release, The Santa Hoax.  Welcome, Francis!


Hello everyone! My YA holiday romance The Santa Hoax came out with Harmony Ink Press on December 1st. The story contains several trans characters, including protagonist Julian, and documents some topical trans issues. Though I wrote the first draft of this book in the fall of 2013, the topics I covered seem more relevant than ever.

The story documents Julian’s coming out as he tells people about his identity. As I’ve talked about in other blog posts during this tour, coming out is never simple and often needs to happen more than once. Trans people in particular need to deal with the reality of depending on other people to get their names and pronouns right. Julian suffers with this–at first because he doesn’t tell anyone he’s trans–and then when he deals with transphobia. There’s not *too* much transphobic language in the story (because at its core, it’s really a sweet holiday romance that just happens to be about a trans guy), but the one thing that I wanted to focus on was the infamous bathroom problem.

Enough people here probably remember the bill H2 in North Carolina and how upset it made the trans community. If not, here’s a brief article on its history and what happened. The bathroom problem is something that’s followed trans people around for ages. If you’re trans, what bathroom do you use, and what will people say when you’re in that bathroom? The common theme in most of these debates is that trans women will come into women’s bathroom and attack other women (except that the opposite in real life is usually true). In Julian’s case, he’s a trans guy and only fifteen, so the same fear or judgement doesn’t exactly apply to him, but he’s still threatened and punished in some way for using the bathroom (I don’t want to give too much away about how/why/who) and this makes Julian, along with his friends, seek some kind of resolution and justice. In the story, I created a fake politician in Toronto (where the story is set) who made a similar ruling like North Carolina’s case, and a social media uprising from trans people that rallied against it.

Even though my take on this issue is fictional, there are far too many real-life examples of this kind of systemic transphobia. Even in Canada, yes. I know that Canada is often held up as the pinnacle of all things diverse, especially now after the US election, but we have diversity issues. Everywhere has diversity issues. The world doesn’t seem like it’s made for people who are different–so I’ve always seen my job as a writer to imagine something better. So while I talk a lot about transphobia in this post and it seems like a general downer, I assure you–the book has a happy ending. It’s also about falling in love and being a secret Santa and learning about your friends in a way that is healthy and safe and fun. I’ve included one of the happier holiday scenes of Julian and his friends looking at Christmas lights as an excerpt, so my post isn’t a total bummer. 😉

The Santa Hoax was a joy to write, so I hope it’s a joy to read. Thank you!

Book Blurb

When Julian Gibson realizes he’s transgender, he doesn’t think anything has to change. His parents and friends still call him Julia and think he’s a girl, but so long as Julian can still hang out with his best friend Aiden and read sci-fi novels with his dad, life seems pretty good.

Then high school happens. Aiden ditches him, and a new girl, Maria, keeps cornering him in the girls’ bathroom. A full year after discovering he’s transgender, Julian realizes life changes whether you’re ready for it or not. So Julian makes a deal with himself: if he can tell his secret to three people, it is no longer a hoax. What happens during his slow process of coming out leads Julian down odd pathways of friendship, romance, Christmas shopping, random parties, bad movies, and a realization about why kids still believe in Santa—it’s sometimes better than discovering the truth.


“There you are!” Maria said, eagerly greeting him.

She wore jeggings that clung to her thighs and waist, along with a white coat Julian hadn’t seen before. Josie hung around at her side, wearing pretty much the exact same thing she had earlier, looking up from her phone every so often to verify where they were. She has GPS. How adorable. Davis was by her side, his baseball hat pulled down over his face. The collar of his dark jacket was flipped up in the slight wind and obscured his face.

“Sorry if I’m late,” Julian apologized. “Had to say good-bye to my dad.”

“Nah, you’re fine. Just on time.” Maria linked her arm with Julian’s as they moved toward the sidewalk. “Where are we going now, Josie?”

“Just to the left,” she said, then leaned close to Julian and whispered so only he could hear. “Davis is driving me crazy already. Help.”

“Just focus on the lights,” he said. “And maybe think of drawing a comic or two.”

“Come on,” Maria stated, keeping Julian’s attention on her. “Show me some houses.”

Josie walked ahead of the two of them, Davis by her side. They continued down the block two by two as the sun sank behind the trees. The chill set in almost immediately after, and though the wind whipped at their faces and blew Maria’s hair, she never once complained about being cold. Julian had no idea what he was supposed to do if she was. Do I give her my coat? That was what guys on dates did. But if this was a date—not that it was—then Maria probably saw him as a girl. So Julian was doubly confused and decided to not think about it at all. He pulled the group over into the next subdivision, where they were almost blinded by the first house they saw. Lights lined the roof, crisscrossing and in several different Christmas colors. There were also a few light-up Santas, snowmen, and Christmas stars hanging by the garage.

“Oh, wow. It’s like walking on the surface of the sun,” Josie exclaimed, using a hand to block some of the light.

“Total Griswolds,” Maria commented. “Like that movie Christmas Vacation, you know?”

“Yeah, I guess. Just like that.”

“Their electricity bills must be through the roof,” Josie stated. “No wonder there is global warming.”

“If there is, why is it still so cold?” Davis asked, rubbing his hands together.

Josie began to explain, only getting through a few complex statements before Davis put his hands up. “Okay, fine, fine. I’m wrong. I get it.”

Maria rolled her eyes and then tugged Julian forward. “So is this a house you like? You strike me as someone more subtle.”

“Yeah,” Julian said, grinning. “I walk around a lot, actually. Let me show you a better house.”

After a small walk, Julian stopped them in front of Mr. Stevenson’s house. His blue icicle lights hung over the garage and by his front windows. He also had a floodlight that displayed a small silhouette of a snowman on his garage.

“Okay,” Maria said. “Why do you like this one?”

“It’s not too garish, or even that Christmas or religious oriented.”

“And?” Maria asked, nudging him. “You’re holding out on me.”

“Well, if you think about it, this time of year is really about light, right? All the holidays celebrate light because it’s the darkest time.”

Everyone nodded, so Julian went on. “And this house is usually dark most of the time. Mr. Stevenson used to work at my elementary school, actually. He was the music teacher, but he got sick, and his kids have to take care of him now. But they still put up his lights, and I really like that. I don’t know. The whole thing reminds me of learning to play an instrument in his class. Probably dumb.”

“No, no,” Maria said, squeezing his arm. “Not dumb. What did you play?”

“Piano. I was never that good, though.”

“You probably were, but you’re just shy now. That’s okay,” Maria said, her eyes going back to the house. “I can appreciate this.”

Julian nodded. He wanted to add more about how he had first started playing, but realizing that would involve Aiden, he cut off the thought before it had a chance to catch hold. When Julian heard clicking from a phone, he turned to see Davis in the middle of writing a message, not even listening to what he had just said. That was okay, really. Julian hadn’t really been talking to Davis when he told the story. But as he looked back to find Josie, she was already across the street, taking a picture of a rabbit in the bushes. It had been Maria, and only Maria, who was listening intently to him. When he glanced back over to her, he found her staring at him.

“What?” he asked.

“Nothing,” she said, smiling softly. “Just thanks for telling me. I wouldn’t have known any of that without you.”

“I got a million stories.”

“I’ll bet,” Maria said, then looked past him toward Josie with a sigh. “But we should probably catch up with the group. And I think this street is a dead end, right?”

Author Bio:

Francis Gideon is a writer of m/m romance, but he also dabbles in mystery, fantasy, historical, and paranormal fiction. He has appeared in Gay Flash Fiction, Chelsea Station Poetry, and the Martinus Press anthology To Hell With Dante.  He lives in Canada with his partner, reads too many comics books, and drinks too much coffee. Feel free to contact him, especially if you want to talk about horror movies, LGBT poetry, or NBC’s Hannibal. Find him at

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: Run for it All by Carolyn Levine Topol


Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5

run-for-it-allDavid Martin isn’t happy when he finds out he has to go live with his father and his father’s partner while his mothers are overseas on a work-related project during his sophomore year.  But his tune changes after he gets to know Kevin Ringer, the captain of the track team—the young man who will eventually be David’s lover.

During the first six months or so, living with his dad and his dad’s partner, Scott, who also happens to be his high school track coach, he’s shocked by how much he comes to appreciate Scott. So much in his life changes within such a short time that he finds himself wishing for even more time with Kevin, Scott, and his dad, who has now become very important to him. It surprises them all when he reveals how much he now respects Scott and even loves him, and he makes Scott’s day when he announces he’s decided to call Scott Pop. 

There’s plenty of drama throughout the story as his father learns the meaning of being a full time parent and acquires the skills to express his love and respect for his son; there’s also an ongoing issue with the track team member who was previously involved in an attack on Kevin.  And, of course, there’s the love story developing between David and Kevin and David’s angst over whether or not he has to leave behind everything and everyone he’s grown to love.

It might have been a good story, but I didn’t care for the author’s writing style, including the portrayal of David’s character and personality, which I comment on further below.  But—here’s one of my biggest quirks with the writing—when the author first used the phrase “(he) rolled his lips,” I thought it was supremely awkward, but then it was used again and I started to squirm. The third time, I began to highlight the instances on my app and ultimately found it was used 8 times!  I’m sorry, but no. First, it’s too weird to picture, and second, that’s way too many times to use a term like that in one story.  I’m surprised the editor didn’t pick up on it.

Another issue, and granted, I may be very old-fashioned, but I found the way David spoke, whether with family or friends, to be extremely mature and somewhat formal. Yes, he’s a smart kid and was raised by intelligent women, but I just felt his language and behaviors were over-the-top too formal and mature for a fifteen year old. And speaking of fifteen—I also found it odd that both sets of parents saw no issue in letting the boys stay overnight in each other’s homes, knowing they were having sex. I may have lost touch with today’s reality, but there wouldn’t be full, penetrative sex in my home and condoned by me if my child was that age. Thankfully, the sex was off page, but I’m still surprised because most YA books I’ve read have held off mentioning having full sex until both boys were eighteen.

So, although the book was okay, and I liked a few parts, primarily the relationship between David and his two “dads,” I wouldn’t recommend it.

The cover by Alexandria Corza features head shots of two young men set against a background of a track meet, depicting the primary focus of the story.

Sales Links

Harmony Ink Press


Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages
Expected publication: September 22nd 2016 by Harmony Ink Press
ISBN 1634770668 (ISBN13: 9781634770668)
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Free Dreamer Young Adult Release Day Review: Do-Gooder by J. Leigh Bailey


Rating: 4 stars out of 5

do-gooder-by-j-leigh-baileyNo good deed goes unpunished, and for seventeen-year-old Isaiah Martin, that’s certainly the case. The gun he was caught with wasn’t even his, for God’s sake. He only had it to keep a friend from doing something stupid. No one wants to hear it though, and Isaiah is banished—or so it seems to him—to live with his missionary father in politically conflicted Cameroon, Africa.

However, when he arrives, his father is so busy doing his good deeds that he sends Henry, the young, surprisingly hot do-gooder with a mysterious past, to pick up Isaiah and keep him out of trouble. Even while Isaiah is counting down the days until he can go home, he and Henry get caught in the political unrest of the region. Kidnapped by militant forces, the two have to work together to survive until they are rescued—unless they manage to find a way to save each other first.

“Do-Gooder” was an exciting, action-packed read. The romance mostly took a back seat, since the protagonists were a little busy trying to survive.

I mostly decided to read this book because of the setting. Not a lot of m/m books are set in Africa and I’ve always liked reading about exotic places. We don’t get to read much about the culture, though, since the story is mostly set in the middle of nowhere, with our two protagonists as prisoners of international mercenaries. I didn’t mind too much, since there were plenty of other things to keep me interested.

It’s interesting how the author managed to keep the story so suspenseful, even though it’s mostly set in a single hut and the MCs mostly just talk. Still, there’s the constant worry about Isaiah’s health, the mystery of Henry’s past and of course the mystery of why they were kidnapped and the worry about the next step of the kidnappers.

Even more amazing is the fact that she also managed to keep the feel of the story very realistic. All the explanations we get throughout made sense and the whole plot seemed like something that could totally happen under those circumstances.

The one part I didn’t really like was the romance. Not so much that it played only a minor role, but Isaiah’s feelings felt awfully rushed. It’s pretty much insta-love for him, which is a trope I despise. I didn’t quite buy into the intensity of the feelings. It read more like a crush to me and they just didn’t spend enough time with each other for me to believe that this was grounds for a serious relationship. Maybe Henry’s POV would have helped, because we only get to see Isaiah’s side. As it is, I didn’t really get the impression that Henry was returning Isaiah’s feelings for a long time.

The result was that I didn’t buy into the ending either. It felt like a forced HEA and pretty unrealistic. A HFN ending might have worked better, at least for me.

If you’re looking for a light, fun read, keep looking. This is not the book for you.

If, however, you’re looking for an action packed story full of intrigues and mystery, with a dash of romance, you’ll love this book.

The cover by Aaron Anderson represents the story perfectly: bullet holes and the all-important backpack with an African landscape on it. I’m not too fond of the background colour, but otherwise this is a great cover.

Sales Links

Harmony Ink Press



Book details:

ebook, 200 pages
Expected publication: September 15th 2016 by Harmony Ink Press
ISBN 1634772903 (ISBN13: 9781634772907)
Edition LanguageEnglish

Love YA Fiction? Want to Donate a Book? This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words




The Prince William County PFLAG  (VA) youth group is seeking contributions of either young adult (YA) paperbacks or cash donations to purchase books for the PFLAG youth library.  If you have any questions or wish to donate, please contact Lynn Schmitz, PFLAG facilitator, at

Not familiar with PFLAG? PFLAG is Parents, Families,Friends,  and Allies united with  LGBTQIA people to move equality forward.  Their National PFLAG website can be found here.  Its also the place to locate your local chapters.  More and more of our publishers are turning toward the YA and New Adult market.  This includes many publishers you are familiar with such as Dreamspinner Press, with its Harmony Ink YA Press,  Interlude Press with its new YA imprint, Duet Books, Torquere Books with its Prizm Press: Young Adult Novels LGBT Characters, Bold Strokes Books (YA division) among the ones that come immediately to mind.

Think about the books you read as a preteen or teenager.  Did the great ones, the memorable ones seem to speak to you?  Involve characters that you could identity with?  I bet some of you are smiling now just remembering those stories that made your day, helped you through a crisis, or just let you know you weren’t alone in your thoughts and problems.  These can be tough years and books that take you away or make things that are scary at that age less fearsome are important.

Now image you are a young LGBTQIA child, preteen, teenager, whatever the age.  I don’t imagine the local or school libraries have many books that have characters that you can identity with.

Where do you turn for stories where you can see yourself in the characters or situations?  That’s where this PFLAG youth library comes in.  There are some terrific YA LGBTQIA stories out there.  You need look no further than our own Aurora’s YA reviews to see that.  Lynn Schmitz and her fellow PFLAG associates are trying to put together such a library.  And they need our help.

Write Lynn, see what books she has already been given, what books the library is looking for and how you can help this project grow!  Is there a need for such a library in your county or city?  Check it all out and see how we can help our LGBTQIA  youth find the joys we discovered in books when we were their age.  Again Lynn Schmitz email address is

Let’s make a difference…one book at a time!

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This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

When to Hold Them coverMurder and Mayhem coverRorschat Blasts coverThe Bruise Black Sky cover

Sunday, June 7, 2015:

  • Julie Lynn Hayes – When Will I Be Loved virtual tour and contest
  • Book Spotlight:  Drifting Sands by C.J. Baty (excerpt and giveaway)
  • Love YA Fiction? Want to Donate a Book? This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Monday, June 8, 2015:

  • Cover Reveal for ‘Scent of the Heart‘ by Parker Williams (interview, excerpt and giveaway)
  • Disappear With Me 2nd Edition by Dean Frech tour and contest
  • A Mika Review: The Bruise Black Sky by John Wiltshire
  • A MelanieM Review: Counselor to the Wolves by Liv Olteano

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

  • Cara Dee Blog Tour for Northbound and Northland (guest blog and giveaway)
  • Belinda Burke Totally Bound Tour and Contest
  • A Mika Review: Northbound by Cara Dee
  • A BJ Review: Rorschach Blots by RoughDraftHero aka R. D. Hero

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

  • Drama Queen by Joe Cosentino blog release tour and giveaway
  • Fool School by James Comins‏/Guest Blog and Contest
  • A Mika Review: Northland (The North Novels #2) by Cara Dee
  • A BJ Review: In Sunshine or in Shadow (Short Stories, Volume 1) by Josh Lanyon

Thursday, June 11, 2015:

  • Denial, Deceit, Discovery by J. James Non Fiction Book Tour
  • Book Spotlight:  Cate Ashwood’s The Storm Before the Calm (interview and giveaway)
  • A Mika Review: Murder and Mayhem by Rhys Ford
  • A MelanieM Review:  Denial, Deceit, Discovery by J. James
  • Reviewer Author Discovery:  BJ on Author Jaye McKenna (new feature)

Friday, June 12, 2015:

  • Patricia Logan ‘Silver Linings’ Virtual tour and contest
  • RJ Scott’s “Retrograde” Release Day Celebration and Contest
  • Brandon Shire’s The Love of Wicked Men Box Set Tour and giveaway
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: When to Hold Them by D. B. Gordon
  • A MelanieM Review: Diamond Draw by Laura Harner (PF 2015)

YA Saturday, June 13:

  • An Aurora YA Review:  Out of Order by Casey Lawrence

Rules coverEmptyNestsFS24-KaratConspiracyLGundone_800

An Aurora YA Review: Of Dreams of Fire and Gods – Gods by James Erich –


Rating: I give this book 5 out of 5 stars:

A Harmony Ink YA Novel


Dreams of Fire and Gods: Book Three

GodsLong ago, two factions of gods, the Stronni and the Taaweh, nearly destroyed the Kingdom of Dasak in a great war. The Taaweh vanished when their queen was imprisoned, and the Stronni declared victory. A thousand years later, a young nobleman named Sael and his lover Koreh have rescued the Taaweh queen. In the process Koreh was killed, and now an injured Sael struggles to heal from both injuries and grief. Unknown to him, Koreh embarks on a journey across the land of the dead, trying to make his way back to Sael—and to life. But time moves differently in the underworld, and decades pass while Koreh travels.

In the living world, tensions between the emperor and Sael’s father, Vek Worlen, who is regent of the eastern kingdom, have soured beyond repair. Worlen conspires with the assassin Donegh to break into the imperial palace and challenge the emperor to a duel to the death. But the goddess Imen has chosen a young priest named Gonim as her champion. Through him she discovers the Taaweh have returned, and her enraged king threatens to destroy Dasak and all its human inhabitants. Sael must save his world, must confront the gods and persuade them not to destroy humankind. But it seems hopeless. If only Koreh were at his side…

First, I would like to say that I loved this book! Often times, epic books aren’t exactly my cup of tea, and I tend to prefer shorter, more modern-fantasy type stories, but I had an amazing time reading this book, regardless. The only difference between this book and any of my favorite books was that it took me a little while longer to read, but once I’d finished it, and as I was reading it, it was a great experience.

There was great depiction of bigger things while still keeping the characters and problems ‘real’, which is what I loved so much about it and what kept me interested. The author also did a great job of keeping things from getting too confusing while still being on a big scale. I know that this book is one of a series and I haven’t read the others so there are probably some things that I didn’t necessarily appreciate that I could have, but even only reading this book out of them all, I didn’t find myself ever scratching my head and being drawn out of the story.

I would definitely read this again, and I plan to read the rest of the series, and I would recommend it even to people like me who usually reach for shorter books, because it is worth it.

Cover Artist: James Erich. I think this cover is beautiful, and it’s one of the few times I would actually probably favor a photo-edited cover over the exact same premise, but drawn, because it just seems more realistic, and is able to have more details. Because it’s simple, I think it works really well.

Sales Links:   Harmony Ink Press eBook & Paperback         All Romance (ARe)        amazon            buy it here

Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages
Published October 17th 2013 by Harmony Ink Press (first published October 16th 2013)
ISBN 1627983783 (ISBN13: 9781627983785)
edition languageEnglish
seriesDreams of Fire and Gods #3

Books in the series include:

Dreams (Dreams of Fire and Gods, #1)
Fire (Dreams of Fire and Gods, #2)
Gods (Dreams of Fire and Gods, #3)

A Aurora YA Review: Under the Stars by Geoff Laughton


Rating: I give this book 5 out of 5 stars

Under the Stars coverDSP : “Ethan Tanner is an out and proud, fastidious, and fashionable sixteen-year-old vegetarian who likes theater and musicals. This year, it’s his sister’s turn to pick the vacation destination, so he ends up on a dude ranch he knows he is going to hate. What with the dirt, animals, and germs, he can’t possibly be happy.

Jason McCoy is the closeted sixteen-year-old son of the ranch owners and is trying to find his place in a world that doesn’t seem to fit him. He takes an interest in Ethan, shows him around, and gets him to ride a horse. When he invites Ethan camping, Ethan thinks Jason must be joking. But Ethan takes a risk, and the two boys bond under the stars.

After that, Ethan and Jason are inseparable. Their friendship grows into something deeper as they begin to figure out what they want from life. But Ethan’s home is in Chicago, and the distance might be more than the two teenagers—and their blossoming relationship—can withstand.”


Under the Stars follows a sixteen year old boy, Ethan, as he goes on a vacation with his parents and little sister to a ranch. At first, Ethan is reluctant to go and doesn’t think he’ll enjoy the trip much at all, but because it was his sister’s turn to choose where they wanted to go, he didn’t have much choice. When he actually arrives at the ranch, Ethan quickly connects with the owner’s son, Jason, and the two of them develop a close relationship.

As someone who isn’t usually much of a fan of contemporary, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. Within the first few pages I was completely drawn in, and I related to Ethan immediately. One thing I absolutely loved about this book was the representation of Ethan’s parents and the close relationship they had, even though they didn’t all necessarily agree throughout the entire book. It didn’t go the route of representing parents as being completely unsupportive, which I think could be a great thing for young adults who are reading this book and might be considering coming out to their parents to see that positive dynamic represented.

Jason and Ethan were both great characters who I loved seeing interact with each other, and all of their discussions and the things they did seemed very real. Ethan’s growth, especially, throughout the book, was something I really enjoyed, because he did change, but he held onto who he was and he didn’t make a one-eighty turn around. All in all, I really enjoyed this book and I would definitely read it again any time.

Cover Artist: L.C. Chase

The cover art is simple, but pretty and well suited to the book. I think the dark color scheme definitely makes it appealing, while the bright color of the fire draws the readers eyes to the bottom of the page where the artist wants them to look.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner ebook & Paperback      All Romance eBook     amazon      Under the Stars

Book Details:

ebook, 180 pages, YA young adult title
Published October 9th 2014 by Harmony Ink Press