Love High Fantasy? Check Out the New Release Blitz for Royal Rescue by A. Alex Logan (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: Royal Rescue

Author: A. Alex Logan

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: April 8, 2019

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: No Romance, Male/Male

Length: 111500

Genre: New Adult Fantasy, LGBT, asexual, high fantasy, dragons, royalty, magic, young adult, gay, family drama, hurt/comfort

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Synopsis

At age eighteen, when they become marriageable, all royal children in the Thousand Kingdoms must either go questing to rescue another royal or be hidden away to await rescue themselves. Some go the traditional route of princes rescuing princesses, but not all princes want to be rescuers…and some would rather rescue other princes.

Then there’s Prince Gerald, who has no interest in getting married at all. When he refuses to choose a role as either rescuer or rescuee, his royal parents choose for him and have him magicked away to a distant tower to await a spouse.

Gerald, however, is having none of it. He recruits his guardian dragon and a would-be rescuer and soon the trio is dashing to all corners of the united kingdoms on a quest to overturn the entire system.

Excerpt

Gerald followed the steward to the study wearing an expression that would have been more appropriate if he were being led to the dungeon. The steward rapped on the door twice before opening it and stepping aside for Gerald. She gave the young man an encouraging wink, but he was too intent on bracing himself for the upcoming confrontation to notice.

He took a deep breath, visibly set his shoulders and stepped through the doorway. The steward closed the door behind him, and Gerald fought back the feeling of being trapped.

“Don’t lurk in the doorway,” an imposing voice scolded. “Come in where I can see you.”

Gerald did as he was told, stopping and giving a shallow bow when the woman came into view. She nodded, acknowledging the courtesy, which caused the sunlight streaming in through the window to catch and reflect off her golden crown.

Gerald resisted the urge to reach up and touch his own circlet—silver—which he too late realized was probably once again askew.

“Well?” the Queen asked. “Have you made your decision?”

Another deep breath, another forceful straightening of his shoulders, and Gerald said, a hint of defiance in his tone, “I have.”

The Queen’s harsh expression broke into a smile. “Oh, Gerald, thank goodness. Your mum and I were about at our wits’ end! There’s barely enough time left to make all the arrangements. So, what will it be? Rescuer or rescuee?”

“Neither.”

The smile melted off the Queen’s face. “Neither! Don’t be ridiculous, Gerald. You said you had made your decision.”

“I have,” he said, crossing his arms in front of his chest. “I’ve decided not to participate.”

“That is not an option,” she said coldly, the warmth in her voice gone the same way as the smile. “As you are well aware.”

“I don’t wish to marry,” Gerald replied, trying to match her tone but not quite managing it. “As you are well aware.”

The Queen waved her hand dismissively. “This is merely the first step. It may take a year or even two for you to rescue—or be rescued by—someone who appeals. Then there’s the courtship, the inter-kingdom negotiations, planning the festivities…why, unless it’s True Love and you two want to rush things, I doubt the wedding will happen before you turn twenty-one.”

“I didn’t say ‘I don’t wish to marry in the next three years’,” Gerald said, forcing himself to keep his voice level even as he balled his hands into fists. “I said, ‘I don’t wish to marry.’ As in, ever.”

But the Queen was no longer listening.

“I really don’t know where we went wrong with you,” she said. “We never had this sort of problem with your older siblings or even your twinling…”

“Don’t call her that,” Gerald snapped. “You know how much I hate that—we’re not twins, we’re not even sort-of twins. We’re half-siblings at best and maybe not even related at all.”

The Queen looked up at the ceiling as if imploring it to give her strength. “Now you’re being deliberately obtuse,” she snapped back. “You know very well that the term ‘twinling’ has been in use for at least a century throughout every single one of the Thousand Kingdoms, and it’s a perfectly apt word. You’re acting like your mum and I made it up to irritate you. You’re acting like a child, Gerald.”

“Isn’t the point of all this that I am a child?” he responded. “Isn’t the entire purpose of this whole charade of rescue and marriage to make me into an adult?”

“It’s hardly a charade. It’s—”

“—a well-respected, long-established tradition to encourage young royals to broaden their horizons, explore more of the Thousand Kingdoms, find love, and forge stronger connections among the Kingdoms, yes, yes, I know,” Gerald interrupted. “I still say it’s a charade. It’s perfectly possible to accomplish all of those goals without forcing every royal into a ridiculous marriage quest the moment they turn eighteen.”

“You seem to be forgetting something very important here, Gerald,” the Queen said calmly.

“What’s that?”

“This isn’t optional.”

“You can’t force me to choose,” Gerald said. “Why can’t you leave me be and let Lila broaden her horizons, explore the Kingdoms, forge alliances, and all that rot? She wants to.”

“You have ten days,” the Queen continued, as if Gerald hadn’t spoken. She turned away without even bothering to dismiss him.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

Alex Logan is an asexual, agender librarian from New York state. Always an avid reader, Alex has branched out from reading books to writing them. Alex’s other main interest is soccer, which they enjoy watching, playing, and (of course) reading about.

Website | Twitter

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A Free Dreamer Review: Treasure (The Lost Gods #1) by Megan Derr

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Nine gods ruled the world, until the ultimate betrayal resulted in their destruction. Now, the world is dying and only by restoring the Lost Gods can it be saved.

Nine hundred years ago, the Dragons of the Three Storms, gods of chaos, tried to destroy their land of Kundou. Only by rising up and slaying the Dragons and stealing their power was Kundou saved. Now, that power resides in the royal family and grants them the right to rule.

But that power comes at a terrible price, and Prince Nankyokukai is determined that he will be the last to pay it—even if it means surrendering his chance with the man he has waited for his entire life.

I can’t believe it took me seven entire years till I finally got around to reading “Treasure”. I don’t know why I didn’t read it sooner, but it was worth the wait.

Okay, I have a thing for dragons and mermaids and gods and pretty much everything this book had on offer. But it’s so rare to find all these things combined in one single book. Needless to say, I was utterly thrilled to find all of it rolled into one, with an interesting love story on top.

The world building was well done and not something I’ve come across before. There are several names that are actually Japanese or Russian words. But since I don’t speak either of those languages, the meaning escaped me. I’m honestly not entirely sure what to think of real languages in a completely made up world, that has absolutely nothing to do with our own. Even though I’m an atheist in RL, I’m absolutely fascinated by Fantasy religions. And “Treasure” certainly didn’t disappoint in that regard. Religion is actually pretty important part of this universe and I quite enjoyed the concept.

The romance is also vital to the story. We actually have two couples in this book. I think that was a bit ambitious and the second kind of fell by the wayside. I rooted for Kin and Kyo and thought they were absolutely lovely together. But I felt like they were the main couple of the book and kind of expected a second book about the other couple. Their romance just didn’t feel as fully realized.

The plot was full of action and I really didn’t expect the way it ended. That was one hell of a plot twist, that I definitely didn’t see coming!

As much as I enjoyed the book as a whole, it really could have used a slightly more thorough spellcheck. Several times, Kin and Kyo got mixed up and it really pissed me off. If you can’t keep your MCs apart, then maybe you shouldn’t give them such similar names! Mixing them up is a major no-go and I was actually tempted to rage quit just because of that.

The cover by Leburdendesigns is very pretty. The map is quite fitting, the MCs spend most of the book travelling.

Sales Links:  Less Than Three Press | Amazon

Book details:

ebook, 250 pages
Published January 25th 2012 by Less Than Three Press (first published 2012)
ISBN 139781936202997
Edition Language English
SeriesThe Lost Gods #1

A Free Dreamer Review: Foreign to You by Jeremy Martin

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

The harmony between humans and fianna, a species of shape-shifting deer, begins to wither as racial tensions and deeply rooted resentment turns violent.

Ruthless hunter Finn Hail and prophesied liberator Adelaide may be heroes to their own species, but they are enemies to each other. With war on the horizon, the reluctant pair must team up to find the most elusive of prey: the god of the Forest.

As enemies press in from all sides, true intentions begin to show. For Finn to save the boy he cares for most, he might need to aim his gun at the very god he seeks. And Adelaide, with her festering hatred for mankind, will have to determine if peace holds true salvation for her people.

First of all, I have no idea why “Foreign to You” is classified as Young Adult. The protagonists are the right age, I guess, but the story itself really has none of the typical young adult themes. It’s a brilliant Fantasy novel for adults, but I wouldn’t sell this as Young Adult.

Also, this is a “Literary/Genre Fiction” title by Nine Star Press, which, in this case, means there’s next to no romance here. And there’s a warning for “scenes of bloody violence and the death of a secondary character”, which should be taken seriously as well. This is not a criticism at all, just letting people know what to expect.

I absolutely loved this book. It reminded me a little bit of “Greenwode” by J. Tullos Henning, mostly because of the Stag God and the important role of the forest in the story. But “Foreign to You” is High Fantasy and has a very different story line.

The writing style was truly poetic. I’m really impressed Jeremy Martin managed to keep it beautiful and natural. A lot of authors have tried and failed spectacularly. But this was simply wonderful and it fit the story perfectly. It did a great job of transporting me to a world that’s completely different to our own.

Shapeshifters aren’t exactly a new thing in fiction, but the author took a very unique approach to it. The world-building was excellent and really conveyed the horror of the shift from deer to human and back. It made me wince and cringe in sympathy. I really don’t think I want to be a Fianna.

The story itself was a very sad one. Finn has a crazy father, a dead mother and was forced to join up with the hunters. My heart really ached for him and his struggles. His grief was utterly heartbreaking to witness.

Of course Adelaide’s life isn’t exactly easy either, she faces a whole different set of problems. She’s the prophesied Maiden, come to save her kind. Too bad she has no idea how she’s supposed to do that. And having a human form isn’t all that great either. I loved how she discovered her human body and had to find new words and meanings for all sorts of things. I could actually relate to the newness of a body that’s so very different from what she’s used to, even though a human body is obviously the only thing I’ve ever had.

I usually don’t like completely evil villains, that have absolutely no redeeming qualities whatsoever and just exist to make life hell for everybody else. But yet again, the author excelled. Garth doesn’t have a single good cell in his body, but he was still a realistic, believable character with actual depth. The creepy twins he controls are yet another example of the type of villain I usually don’t like, but again, they worked perfectly for the story.

Honestly, “Foreign to You” was such an amazing book, I can’t possibly do it justice here. I can’t believe this is the author’s debut work, it’s incredibly polished and professional. If you like Fantasy and don’t mind your heart being broken, read this book. You won’t regret it. It was one of the first real highlights of my reading year so far.

I love the cover by Natasha Snow. At first glance, it looks beautiful and innocent. But the longer you look at it, the creepier it gets. A true work of art.

Sales Links:  NineStar Press | Amazon

Book details: ebook, 299 pages

Published February 11th 2019 by NineStar Press

DSP Promo Ana Raine Captive Wings (Anima #2) by Ana Raine

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Captive Wings (Anima #2) by Ana Raine

Dreamspinner Press

Cover Artist: Blake Dorner

Buy Links: Dreamspinner Press |   Amazon  |   Barnes and Noble 

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Ana Raine today on tour for the second story in her Anima series, Captive Wings.  Welcome, Ana.

 

Inspiration for Captive Wings

I live in Michigan and there is a constant joke that there are only two seasons: construction season and wintry season. But for those of us who brave the construction and shut down roads, there are beautiful state parks and flowing ponds, lakes, and rivers.

It was on one of these adventures to my local Metro Park that I came up with the idea for Hidden Wings. There were two swans in the center of the path and a small group of people who hadn’t dared pass by even though there was nowhere else to go. Swans are often characterized as small, fragile and helpless, but in that moment, I saw the true strength that lies within those majestic creatures.

A few weeks later, I went back to the park, but this time there was only one lone swan floating in the pond. The fight had seemed to ebb away and there was a hollow look of sadness about the creature that made me think he had been abandoned. In the romance world, bear or wolf shifters are predominant because of their predatory, protective nature. But swans are not just graceful birds with slender necks, but creatures of beauty who fight for their mates and are broken when separated.

Further research into Irish mythology extended my knowledge of fairies. I created the idea of a Dryma Fairy whose soul is tied to a tree. It seemed only fitting that the protectors of these trees would be the strong swans who captivated me that fateful day.

 

 

Captive Wings (Anima 2) by Ana Raine

Blurb:

Liberation from one master might mean enslavement to another.

For centuries, the Kuro swan shifters have been the unwilling servants of the Dryma faeries. That changed when Prince Tristan of the Dryma attempted to sacrifice himself for Royal Kuro Kanji—his lover and mate.

The Sidhee, seeing Tristan’s actions to free the swans as a betrayal, launch a devastating attack that leaves most of the Kuro and Dryma dead or imprisoned. The fate of the swans rests entirely on Kanji’s shoulders, and he must somehow devise a plan that will protect both his partner and his tribe as the war with the Sidhee rages. It won’t be easy for mortal enemies to become allies, and Kanji is beginning to despair of ever waking Tristan from his deathlike slumber. And neither the Kuro nor the Dryma can compete with the Sidhee when it comes to brutal violence.

When Kanji finds a small boy asleep at the bottom of a lake, his hope for reuniting with Tristan is rekindled. But what is the boy, and can his magic turn the tide against a seemingly unstoppable enemy?

 

 

About the Author

Ana Raine writes because she loves to believe in magic, dragons, and that there is more to life than what human eyes can see. Ana lives in Michigan where when it’s not snowy and wet, there are beautiful state parks and lakes to visit. When she was eighteen, she married her best friend and they live with their two cats, Mason and Misaki. Ana has celiac disease, but that hasn’t stopped her from learning how to cook and bake so she can eat tasty treats. Fudge, enchiladas, and anything involving yucca/cassava are her absolute favorite.

Ana has studied in Osaka, Japan where she learned about theater and drama. She would love to go back after she is sure her Japanese is efficient enough. Ana loves anything to do with foxes, especially Arctic foxes. One day, Ana will find a way to incorporate her love of foxes into a novel, but until then, she’ll stay focused on fairies, shape shifters, and mythology.

Feel free to stop by her blog for tasty recipes, freebies, and more.

Blog: anarainebooks.blogspot.com

Twitter: @AuthorAnaRaine

E-mail: anaraine@rocketmail.com

A MelanieM Review: Dragon Magic by Megan Derr

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Four strangers. A shared moment long forgotten. A bond forged in desperation.

On the first day of the Festival of Counting, the beginning of the royal census that takes place every ten years, the royal city is filled to overflowing. Everyone is happy, excited, and proud to be counted amongst those who live in the glorious kingdom of Orhanis.

Then a demon strikes, killing thousands in mere seconds and leveling the city. As the royal castle burns, only four men remain to drive the demon away—and in their desperation, accidentally bind themselves together in a legendary Oath, unable to part ways until they find and kill the demon once and for all.

Mahzan, the King’s Jester, an orphan who clawed his way to the top and hides a fearsome magic… Sule, the notorious North Captain, who sacrificed everything to live as a strong, capable, highly respected man… Cemal, a priest who traveled the continent bent on revenge and now lives lost… and Binhadi, the mercurial shadow mage with a dark history and bloody ties to the throne…

Four men used to standing apart, standing alone, who must learn to stand together if they hope to save themselves and all of Orhanis.

When it comes to fantasy, Megan Derr is  one of my go to authors.  I love her marvelous ability to transport me out of the mundane and into realms where dragons soar,  wounded mage’s seek reparation and love, and unique bands of warriors go forth on sagas that have continued to live on in my heart and mind long past those words…The End in book after book.

In Dragon Magic Megan Derr brings together another unusual band of mages.  This time, they will form not only a working relationship but a romantic one between the four of them.  Not something of a norm in her stories. Or in the stories I normally read because I haven’t found many authors that make a  polyamorous relationship work within a storyline to my tastes.  Here, among four strong mages, who fight the bonds between them from the beginning, watching the emotional ties form, along with the lust and love feels natural.  It helps that they can “feel” each others thoughts and emotions, so the instinctual walls  others erect start breaking down or are broken between the four of them from the start, laying their “secrets” out before the others.

Derr switches the story back and forth between the emotional vulnerability and revelations that is happening between the four as they become a true “family” and the perilous state they find themselves in while searching out the demons and those responsible for the destruction of the Capitol.  I expected to “like” one of the characters more than the rest, maybe Mahzan or Sule, but each mages here is a little broken each in their own way.  Each strong as well.  Turned out I loved them equally.  Semal and Binahdi  no less than Mahzan and Sule.  What great characters all.

The only thing that kept this from a 5 stars story was the odd little out of timeline break at the end.  I understand why the author did it but it still felt jarring.  And honestly asked more questions than it answered.  I didn’t need it.  And in my opinion the story didn’t either.  But that’s just me.

Either way, if you are a lover of high fantasy, Megan Derr or both,  Dragon Magic is a book you won’t want to miss.  And yes, once again she has created some wonderful demons for our mages to fight against.  Can’t miss out on those either!  Put this and this wonderful band of mages on your TBR list today!  I highly recommend it!

Cover art:Phillip Lloyd Simpson.  It’s colorful.  Don’t know that it’s my favorite of Megan Derr’s covers.

Sales Links:  Less Than Three Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook
Expected publication: March 28th 2018 by Less Than Three Press
ISBN139781684312016
Edition LanguageEnglish

In the Spotlight: Apocalypse Alley (Blue Unicorn #2) by Don Allmon (Riptide Publishing Tour and Giveaway)

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Apocalypse Alley (Blue Unicorn #2) by Don Allmon
Riptide Publishing
Cover by: Simoné

Read an excerpt/Buy It here

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Don Allmon here today on tour for his latest novel, Apocalypse Alley.  Welcome, Don. 

 

 

Hello, all! I’m Don Allmon and this week I’ll be touring the web to promote my new book, APOCALYPSE ALLEY, the second in the Blue Unicorn series.

 

If you’re looking for fast-paced cyberpunk/fantasy romance – Terminator 2 meets Fury Road with two sexy guys and a dragon – this is your jam.

 

Join in the fun by leaving a comment which enters you to win a Riptide gift card!

 

About Apocalypse Alley

 

Home from a six-month assignment to war-torn East Asia, genetically engineered supersoldier Noah “Comet” Wu just wants to kick back, share a beer, and talk shit with his best friend, JT. But JT’s home has been shot up like a war zone, and his friend has gone missing.

 

Comet’s only lead is a smart-mouthed criminal he finds amid the mess. His name’s Buzz Howdy. He’s a con man and a hacker and deserves to be in jail. Or in handcuffs, at least. The only thing the two have in common is JT. Unless you count the steamy glances they’re sneaking at one another. They have those in common too. But that just makes Comet all the more wary.

 

Despite their mutual distrust, they’ll have to work together to rescue JT before a cyborg assassin gets to him first. Racing down a miserable stretch of road called Apocalypse Alley, they must dodge radioactive spiders, a killer Buick, and rampaging cannibals. They also try to dodge each other. That last bit doesn’t work out so well.

 

Available now from Riptide Publishing!

About Blue Unicorn

 

JT is an orc on the way up. He’s got his own boutique robotics shop, high-end clientele, and deep-pocketed investors. He’s even mentoring an orc teen who reminds him a bit too much of himself back in the day.

 

Then Austin shows up, and the elf’s got the same hard body and silver tongue as he did two years ago when they used to be friends and might have been more. He’s also got a stolen car to bribe JT to saying yes to one last scheme: stealing the virtual intelligence called Blue Unicorn.

 

Soon JT’s up to his tusks in trouble, and it ain’t just zombies and Chinese triads threatening to tear his new life apart. Austin wants a second chance with JT—this time as more than just a friend—and even the Blue Unicorn is trying to play matchmaker.

 

Check out the Blue Unicorn universe!

 

About Don Allmon

 

In his night job, Don Allmon writes science fiction, fantasy, and romance. In his day job, he’s an IT drone. He holds a master of arts in English literature from the University of Kansas and wrote his thesis on the influence of royal hunting culture on medieval werewolf stories. He’s a fan of role-playing games, both video and tabletop. He has lived all over from New York to San Francisco, but currently lives on the prairies of Kansas with many animals.

 

Connect with Don:

Giveaway

 

To celebrate the release of Apocalypse Alley, one lucky winner will receive a $20 Riptide credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on March 3, 2018. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

A MelanieM Review: Apocalypse Alley (Blue Unicorn #2) by Don Allmon

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Home from a six-month assignment to war-torn East Asia, genetically engineered supersoldier Noah “Comet” Wu just wants to kick back, share a beer, and talk shit with his best friend, JT. But JT’s home has been shot up like a war zoars out of 5ne, and his friend has gone missing.

Comet’s only lead is a smart-mouthed criminal he finds amid the mess. His name’s Buzz Howdy. He’s a con man and a hacker and deserves to be in jail. Or in handcuffs, at least. The only thing the two have in common is JT. Unless you count the steamy glances they’re sneaking at one another. They have those in common too. But that just makes Comet all the more wary.

Despite their mutual distrust, they’ll have to work together to rescue JT before a cyborg assassin gets to him first. Racing down a miserable stretch of road called Apocalypse Alley, they must dodge radioactive spiders, a lonely cannibal, and a killer Buick. They also try to dodge each other. That last bit doesn’t work out so well.

When I last put down  The Glamour Thieves (Blue Unicorn #1), the first story in this amazing series, JT, Austin, and his elf lover were headed to his  home that he shares with the teenage orc he’s mentoring having stirred up more trouble and uncovered even more disturbing information after freeing the virtual intelligence known as the Blue Unicorn.  Trust me, you need to read that story.  One, it’s a dynamite adventure tale and two, without it, you will be lost diving into this one.

I love Apocalypse Alley but the truth is you won’t get a solid foundation of the world or overall series ARC without reading The Glamour Thieves first.  This story and series builds upon each other like building blocks and you can’t enter midway point.  It’s like being dropped on a warped yellow brick road and not knowing you’re headed to Oz.  Not that you’re all that sure of your destination here.  So many twists  and turns await you!

And it all happens at break-neck speed.  What an adrenaline rush.  I had to read it twice to gather together all the story threads and hints I missed the first time.  Props btw to Allmon for creating a character with the name of Urushiol.  As a park naturalist/Ranger, I’m highly familiar with this chemical compound as is anyone who’s come in contact with poison ivy.  I laughed myself silly when I saw that name.  Perfect in every way.  Anyhow, from the moment the story opens we start picking up speed as Comet returns expecting to find JT waiting to pick him up at the airport and  goes looking for him when he doesn’t show.  Each scene as Comet interacts with both Buzz Howdy (we’ve met him before) and others foe and friend gives the readers more information about the man.

Buzz is a known entity but we get into his head and yes heart here.  He falls for  Comet, quick yes, but you can see how and why it happens.

But mostly it’s a race.  A race to keep ahead of some of the worse villains out there, a race to find JT and crew, a race to stay alive…all in heart pounding, white knuckle…go all out scenes.  It’s wildly imaginative, horrifying, and incredibly suspenseful.  Did I say I loved it?  And just when you think it’s safe…a surprising twist shows up at the end that makes you want to go back and read books one and two again to see if there was anyway you could have seen this coming.  And now I need The Burning Magus (Blue Unicorn #3 to come out in the worst possible way.

So, yes, I  absolutely recommend this series.  It’s one wild  ride.  It has great characters, it’s gritty, suspenseful, full of twists and turns and more plots threads then you can shake a VR stick with.  It’s even got love such as it is.  But you need to start with The Glamour Thieves and then to Apocalypse Alley.  I’ll be waiting for you at The Burning Magus!

Cover by: Simoné. I love these covers.  Perfect in everyway from the tone and characters.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 201 pages
Expected publication: February 26th 2018 by Riptide Publishing
Original TitleApocalypse Alley
ISBN 162649665X (ISBN13: 9781626496651)
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesBlue Unicorn #2

A Julia Review: The King and the Criminal (The Heart of All Worlds #2) by Charlotte Ashe

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Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

What happens when the fairytale ends but the journey continues? Book II of the Heart of All Worlds series finds Sehrys and Brieden living peacefully in Khryslee. But when King Firae breaches an ancient, spellbound pact by crossing The Border into Villalu in pursuit of a convicted criminal and is trapped there, Sehrys is forced to ascend the throne in his absence, a role he was once groomed for, but Brieden fears and dreads. Meanwhile, Firae must rely on the very criminal he was after to help him reach home alive—a man his own mother exiled long ago but who awakens something in his heart more potent than his sworn duties as king.

As each man struggles to understand his own destiny, devotion, and legacy, a deeper and more urgent truth confronts them all: Their world is in far greater danger than they realized, and each of them plays an integral part in its fate.

The King and the Criminal by Charlotte Ashe is the second novel in the author’s “The Heart of All Worlds” series. I had previously reviewed the first entry “The Sidhe”, which was a favourite of mine, and I’m happy to say that this one is a more than worthy successor.

While Brieden and Sehrys still play a pivotal role and there is quite a bit of character development for them, we now get to follow the journey of another pair of characters who both have already been introduced in the first book: ruler of one of the Sidhe nations and Sehrys’ former fiancée Firae and Tash, a Sidhe who has been exiled to the human lands for his crimes. But even more so than in the first book the romance part of the story is intricately intertwined with greater narrative of political upheaval and a more imminent threat to the whole of Villalu. The author did a fantastic job in balancing out the change of focus. Not one scene feels superfluous or out of place here.

Tash and Firae are both really interesting and engaging characters and I have greatly enjoyed following the progression of their relationship. I’m especially fond of Tash because unlike Sehrys or Firae he was not naturally gifted with powerful magical abilities or influence but relies mostly on his wits and aptitude for learning to work through a tricky situation. Firae on the other hand is rather impulsive and temperamental. You can see how there is much for them to learn from one another. While theirs is definitely not a love-hate type of relationship, there is quite a bit of wariness (but also mutual sexual attraction) between them at the beginning of their journey. The pacing is really well done and I found it quite believable that these two would eventually develop stronger feelings for each other.

Much to my delight the human twin sisters Cliope and Brissa are getting more attention this time as well as they keep on working towards uniting Villalu under the rule of the latter. And though they seem to be making good progress in that regard, things aren’t as simple as an ancient magic threatens to destroy all of humanity and it is up to a select few to prevent it from happening. The world building is quite detailed and this time we get to see more of what’s going on behind the barrier and learn in greater detail about the culture, society and magic of the Sidhe.

If you’re a fan of Fantasy and are looking for a well-written story with detailed world building and engaging characters, I can only recommend this series and you can be certain that I’ll be eagerly awaiting its continuation.

I simply adore the cover and interior illustrations by Sarah Sanderson. They are so unique and beautiful. I especially like that if you compare the covers of the two books, you can clearly see the difference in the dynamics between the two couples based on their gestures and facial expressions alone.

Sales Links:  Interlude Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 325 pages

Published December 8, 2016

by Interlude Press

ISBN: 978-1-941530-87-0

Edition Language: English

Nikolai Joslin on Inspiration, Writing and Cold Front (The Fires of Destiny #2) (Harmony Ink Guest Post)

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Cold Front (The Fires of Destiny #2) by Nikolai Joslin
H
armony Ink Press
Cover Art by AngstyG

Available for Purchase at 

Harmony Ink Press

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Nikolai Joshlin here today to talk about his latest story, Cold Front and share something about the inspiration behind it and the series.  Welcome, Nikolai!

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Inspiration, Stories and Role Models by Nikolai Joslin

I always loved fantasy and science fiction when I was growing up but it felt like I was sacrificing an important part of myself when I was reading, it pulled me out of the story and I wasn’t able to relate to characters who weren’t like me. It was incredibly hard to be proud of who I was when I never got to see a hero or a ‘Chosen One’ who I could look up to as a role model for this part of my life. So I wrote the first book, Life Beyond the Temple, when I was in high school because I was so frustrated with the lack of LGBT characters in books that also had magic and people saving the world. Casey was someone I wanted to be like, someone who was saving the world and doing amazing things and who was proud of her sexuality and found love in the midst of all that was going on around her. I came up with the idea for these books because I couldn’t find anything around me to read, so I had to write it myself.

 

About Cold Front

Casey Kelley is a mage, and like all mages she grew up in a Temple, a required institution for mages to teach them how to control their power and keep them from harming those in the outside world. In order to prove that she could return to the world she was tasked with defeating a powerful necromancer that sought to end the world as they knew it.

Now, a year later, Casey is living with her fiancée and dog, living the happy, boring life she had been looking forward to all this time. Until an old friend shows up at their door with news of a planned attack on Casey’s old home. The dark elves, after centuries of being forced to live in underground cities and treated like animals, are not only coming back to the surface, they’re starting a war.

It’s up to Casey and her friends to build an army to go against them and save the world again, and it will take more than anything else she’s ever done. Old ghosts come back to haunt her, her enemies have been preparing for years, and maybe hardest of all is getting everyone to cooperate. Even with things looking this bad, Casey knows failure is not an option.

About Nikolai Joslin

Nikolai is a trans man going to school for Baking and Pastry Arts. He decided to write more LGBT fantasy when he was high school and looking for books with characters like himself but couldn’t find anything outside of realistic fiction. He hopes to encourage others to write more stories like this so he has plenty to read. Right now he is living in New York while finishing up his degree and working on the final book for The Fires of Destiny.

Website: www.nikolaijoslin.com

The Fires of Destiny 

A MelanieM Review: Hidden Wings by Ana Raine

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Hidden WingsKanji is the last royal Kuro swan, an ancient race who once served the demonic Sidhee. The Kuro were betrayed and given as slaves to the Dryma fairies. When a Dryma is born, his soul attaches to a tree and to sustain their lives, the Dryma conscript the Kuro to protect their woods. In their servitude, the Kuro are languishing and dying off. Kanji is desperate to reunite his people with their stolen wings, but the task seems impossible.

When Kanji discovers a plan to unite the Sidhee and the Dryma, he tricks the Sidhee prince and attends a masked ball in disguise. There he meets Prince Tristan, who is nothing like the other fairies. Kind and compassionate, Tristan has a plan to free the Dryma from their dependence on the trees—and their need of the Kuro’s protection. It could mean freedom for Kanji’s people, but it might also mean choosing between them and the life of the fairy who is—impossibly—his mate.

When Tristan is wounded in battle and left for dead, his survival depends on the success of his experiments. Can Kanji dare to believe, or must he come to terms with the loss of his mate?

Hidden Wings by Ana Raine caught my attention primarily due to the inclusion of swans in her fantasy story, well that and the fae. I have long admired the species as much for their deadly attack skills as for their elegance and loyalty.  So I had high hopes for seeing such natural history characteristics included as part of the plot and folded into the character of Kanji, the last of the royal Kuro Swans. What I ended up with was a interesting mixture that didn’t always make sense but still managed to be entertaining none the less.

Ana Raine set a huge task for herself with this tale, specifically creating the two species, their individual cultures and collective histories and then bringing them together in the forms of Tristan and Kanji.  I think that in putting her attention towards the Dryma and the Kuro, the characters of Kanji and Tristan came off as pale comparisons.  There is a richness in the mythology that Raine has created that just is so lovely, the dependency on the trees, the need for sacrifice that runs throughout many ancient cultures, and then threading those elements through her story that pulls you in and makes you forget some of the other aspects that might otherwise have you shaking your head.  I’ve seen swans take out foxes and dogs.  Swans are deadly. Where is that here?

Also, for many of you, this is not your happily ever after, nor is it meant to be.  Hidden Wings is part of Dreamspinner Press’  Bittersweet Dreams titles which states in part that “… these stories of romance do not offer a traditional happy ending, but the strong and enduring love will still touch your heart and maybe move you to tears.”  Note the no traditional happy ending.  So, you wouldn’t go into this book expecting to get one and you don’t.  I didn’t mind that, but I know many readers will.

No, what bothered me was that I thought the characters and their relationship as mates needed more substance, at least as much as their species and cultures got.  Hidden Wings has so much promise, enough that the author could easily pull more stories from without having to establish a base universe once again.

If you are a fan of fantasy, pick it up and decide for yourself.

Cover art by Anne Cain is lovely and works for me

Sales Links:   Dreamspinner Press | ARe | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 210 pages
Published January 6th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634767519 (ISBN13: 9781634767514)
Edition Language English