A Barb, A Zany Old Lady Review: Shadows Fall by J.K. Hogan

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Shadows Fall coverTitus McGinty is a natural-born chovihano, medium, witch, Shaman—a Romany who has the gift of seeing dead people everywhere he looks. To most people that may sound intriguing, but to Titus it’s a curse. Spirts don’t just hover, they reach out to him, speaking, calling or making eerie noises. Together, at any given moment, the cacophony is enough to drive him crazy, so he never leaves his home or his coffee shop, both warded to keep the spirits out, without his earbuds firmly in place as he listens to whatever music queues up next on his iPod.

Most spirits hover in the area where they lived or died, never leaving one place, but recently a quartet of females, all grotesquely maimed, are following him around, trying to get him to help them, and he knows there’s nothing he can do.

Homicide Detective Charlie Hale, closeted, handsome, and the type of guy Titus has a hard time resisting, shows up at the coffee shop Titus owns and slowly wins Titus over. The attraction is mutual, but it’s soon evident that Charlie has never acted on his desire for men until Titus rocks his world. The two act on their attraction, but Charlie is shocked when he finds out that Titus might be more than a material witness to a murder he’s recently discovered.

It’s not Titus’s fault that the spirit of a newly dead man leads him into the building where his body is lying shortly after he’s been murdered. The biggest issue is that he has the same markings as the four female spirits who have been haunting Titus and has now joined the others in their pursuit. Titus wants to help, but he also wants peace and quiet so he sends for his grandmother, the Shaman of their gypsy tribe and the only person who might be willing to help him figure out how to keep out the spirits he doesn’t want but communicate with those he does.

Between his grandmother showing up, and Titus’s discovery of that body, his life goes into chaos. Charlie is pressuring him to reveal how he found the body, Charlie’s cop partner is pressuring both of them by threatening to arrest Titus, and the spirits are threatening his sanity by continually trying to get him to understand something. By the time, the chaos is sorted, Titus is on the radar of the serial killer and may become the next victim before he can help Charlie solve the crime.

This is just a very brief summary of a story that was shockingly good. Shocking to me because I’ve never read this author’s work, and I’m not a huge fan of gruesome murder stories. However, this was very well-written, with rich detail and an intricate plotline that piqued my interest.

Both the primary and secondary characters were well-developed and captured my attention right from the beginning of the book. I like a story which engages me immediately, and this certainly did that. Titus was feisty and independent, yet so emotionally needy for close contact with another human being that when Charlie walked into his life, he soaked up the attention like a sponge. And Charlie, tough guy detective and closeted gay man, was so hard shell on the outside with a soft chewy center, i.e. tenderness on the inside, I found myself rooting for him to win Titus’s heart. Grandma Hester Faa was a hoot—picture Ester from the Golden Girls of yesteryear. She too was feisty and took no backtalk from anyone, particularly from some gaje cop who was sleeping in her grandson’s bed. Other support characters could easily constitute a recurring cast for future spinoffs from this story, and judging by the way the author ended the book, I’d say it’s highly likely there will be some.

Actually, the one thing that kept my rating from being five stars was the ending of the story. It felt rushed, with a few subplots left outstanding, including the fate of Titus’s missing employee, Titus’s own future standing with his family and grandmother—will it be closer now or go back to being estranged?—and Charlie’s relationship with his partner—a partner who was very on again-off again. I’m sure much of the reason things stand the way they are at the end of the story are to tie into a future book, however the transition wasn’t smooth and simply felt too rushed and incomplete.

I would recommend this to those who like a creepy mystery with a paranormal element along with some blood and gore all mixed in with their M/M romance. Throw in a little feisty granny and some mighty hawt sex scenes with a virginal cop, and you’ll likely really enjoy this one as much as I did.

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The cover, designed by J.K. Hogan, is a photo depicting a young man, with dark hair and dark complexion with a background of a graffiti-marked underground tunnel. Once the story is complete, readers will understand the symbolism of the tunnel, and the young man is an attractive version of Titus McGinty.

Sales Links:  Wilde City Press  | All Romance (ARe) | Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 329 pages
Published June 10th 2015 by Wilde City Press
ISBN13 9781925313246
edition language English

Need a Romance with a Side of Fright? Here’s “Shadows Fall” by J.K. Hogan (character(s) interview, excerpt and giveaway)

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ShadowsFall_FinalCoverRGB

 Shadows Fall by J.K. Hogan
Release Date: June 10, 2015

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Goodreads Link
Publisher: Wilde City Press
Cover Artist: J.K. Hogan

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Sales Links: Wilde City Books

Our Mini Interview with Two Characters from J. K. Hogan’s Shadowfall, Titus and Charlie!

A Titus and Charlie Interview:

1. Now that you’ve gotten together, what comes next?

Titus: We’ve been so busy running from a psycho killer, we haven’t even had a chance to think about ‘next.’
Charlie: Oh…I was thinking we’d move in together.
Titus: *cough* Maybe we should talk about this later.

2. What was the hardest thing for you to overcome that you didn’t expect to be an issue?

Titus: Well, there’s the thing with the ghosts. That’s kind of a nuisance.
Charlie: Yeah, there’s that. It can be kind of creepy talking to Titus when he’s looking over my shoulder at something I can’t see. *shivers*

3. Who or what makes you laugh out loud?

Titus: Riot.
Charlie: Riot.
Titus: Riot’s my best friend. He’s…a character.

4. What is your favorite ice cream flavor?

Titus: Duh, I own a coffee shop, so definitely mocha.
Charlie: Orange Sherbet.
Titus: You’re so weird. You’re lucky you’re cute.
Charlie: So says the kid who talks to ghosts. Uh huh.

5. What movie will you watch over and over again?

Titus: Shelter.
Charlie: Die Hard!
Titus: *facepalm*

For more of Titus and Charlie, check out the blurb and excerpt below!

STRW Author BookSynopsis

A gift—or curse—gives Titus McGinty the unwanted ability to talk to ghosts. When he starts seeing the same few apparitions repeatedly, appearing with similar gruesome injuries, he begins to wonder what they want from him.

Detective Charlie Hale has a serial killer on his hands. On the loose for weeks, the Queen City Slayer has left the police nothing to go on, no forensic evidence other than what he wants found. The city is running out of time.

The crisis brings Titus and Charlie together—Titus stumbles upon a body and finds himself a suspect. Their budding romance is tested as they are sucked into a web of underground laboratories, restive spirits, and religious fanaticism. They’ll have to work together to find the identity of the killer before he takes his next victim…Titus.
Pages or Words: 102,000 words

Categories: Contemporary, Crime Fiction, Fiction, Gay Fiction, Romance, Thriller

STRW Spotlight Book Excerpt

I always hated walking home alone at night on the deserted city streets. But I couldn’t ask my employees to do something I was scared to do myself, so I’d taken the late shift. In the dark, the wandering dead became nothing but sliding shadows and hissing whispers. The phrase ‘jumping at shadows’ is apt, because there were things in the shadows.

Those things slithered around me, feeling much more insidious in the murky stillness of the nighttime city. Hands in my pockets, I gripped my four inch pocket knife that I always carried. Fat lot of good it would do me against mule, but there was a killer on the loose after all.

It was ill-advised, but I still blasted my music inside my headphones. I didn’t want to hear what the spirits had to say in gloam. I mostly kept my eyes glued to the sidewalk in front of me—don’t stand out, don’t make eye contact, make yourself invisible—but I cast glances all around my periphery to keep aware of my surroundings.

A tall, skinny man approached, heading toward me on the opposite side of the sidewalk. He wore dark jeans and a black hoodie with the hood pulled up, casting his face in shadow. I found that odd, as it was one of those warm, humid nights the Southern springtime was famous for. His dark eyes glittered at me from the empty void where his face should be, obviously a trick of the poor lighting.

As he passed me, he clipped my shoulder, throwing me off balance. I wanted to turn around and yell, but self-preservation intervened. I could probably take him in hand-to-hand, but he could be packing for all I knew. I put my head down and kept walking.

I yelped when a spirit appeared in front of me—unlike what movies and television showed, they didn’t usually just pop up. He was a young man, probably about my age, with pale skin, black hair, and eyes so blue they seemed otherworldly… and he was gorgeous. I blinked, hoping he’d disappear. No such luck.

He turned his head towards the building beside us that was being renovated, the entrance to which was blocked off with caution tape. Stretching out his left arm, he pointed to it, and I could see bone-deep gouges in his wrist and forearm. He glanced at me again. Look.

“Not tonight, okay?” I mumbled, trying to step around him. In the blink of an eye, he disappeared and rematerialized right in front of me. See!

“No,” I said, getting angry. I walked straight through him. Usually when I passed through a spirit, I just felt a slick, oily cold sliding through my body—but this burned like a vat of acid had been dumped over me. I screamed and fell to my knees.

He appeared in front of me again. As I looked up at him, still reeling from the pain, it occurred to me how new he must be. When a mulo first left its body, it still maintained some measure of its humanity. It was able to take and maintain a corporeal form more easily than the older spirits, and the ability faded with each day since its passing.

He pointed again and this time, his eyes took on a pleading quality. I could practically feel his anguish.

Struggling to my feet, I brushed myself off and sighed. “Fine, I’ll look. But then you need to leave me the hell alone. I ducked under the caution tape strung across the doorless entry of the run-down building. It was almost pitch black inside, but I got a vague sense of sawhorses and scaffolds. Tip-toeing for some inconceivable reason, I made my way into some kind of vestibule or foyer. I didn’t notice anything that this mulo would be so desperate for me to see, but I couldn’t really see much at all.

My foot hit something solid and I was afraid to go any further into the dark. Who knew what kind of hazards were strewn about the construction site. I dug out my iPhone and swiped it to turn on the flashlight app. A bright light shone out of the camera flash and illuminated the dusty room in front of me—and the man lying all too still on the floor.

I screamed for the second time in five minutes, stumbled back against a plastic-draped scaffolding and dropped my phone. I assumed it landed screen up, because the room was suddenly plunged back into darkness. With my skin crawling, I felt around on the floor for the hard case. Instead, I grabbed a cold leg.

“Holy God!” I shouted, scrambling backwards and sideways until my back hit a wall. My pulse pounded and my head was spinning with the urge to pass the fuck out, either from fright or hyperventilation. My muscles were on lockdown, frozen into that gray area between fight-or-flight, but I knew I had to find my phone so I could get the hell out of there.

And the body… I’d have to call someone. I poked around with the toe of my shoe, carefully avoiding the area of blackness where I thought the body was. Finally I felt the phone. I dragged it across the floor with my foot until I was able to pick it up. Everything was illuminated once again. “Oh thank God,” I said.

But once there was light, I could see him again. His head was turned to face away from me, but I knew that it was the guy from outside. Obviously he’d wanted me to find his body. It was laid out like a sacrifice, arms stretched out to reveal the deep cuts on his arms. I shivered. My brain was finally catching up to the situation, and I realized it was entirely possible that the killer could still be here.

I quickly got to my feet and lurched toward the dim light pooling at the doorway. As soon as I was out of there, I pressed my back up against the cool façade of the building and panted to catch my breath. I see the dead all the time, but I’d never actually seen a dead body before. I wasn’t sure what to do; the only thing I could think was call Charlie.

With shaking hands, I pulled up his number on my phone—I may have entered it from the business card he gave me after chasing Jay out of the shop. I pressed send and he picked up on the first ring.

“Hale.”

“Ch-Charlie?”

“Who’s this?”

“Titus.” My voice was shaking and I was embarrassingly close to tears. “I need help.”

“Tell me where you are and I’ll be right there.”

I rattled off my general location, already soothed by the sound of his voice, the confidence in it. “Please hurry,” I said.

“Stay put, I’m on my way.”

 

STRW Author Bio and Contacts

J.K. Hogan has been telling stories for as long as she can remember, beginning with writing cast lists and storylines for her toys growing up. When she finally decided to put pen to paper, magic happened. She is greatly inspired by all kinds of music and often creates a “soundtrack” for her stories as she writes them. J.K. is hoping to one day have a little something for everyone, so she’s branched out from m/f paranormal romance and added m/m contemporary romance. Who knows what’s next?

J.K. resides in North Carolina, where she was born and raised. A true southern girl at heart, she lives in the country with her husband and young son, a cat, and two champion agility dogs. If she isn’t on the agility field, J.K. can often be found chasing waterfalls in the mountains with her husband, or down in front at a blues concert. In addition to writing, she enjoys training and competing in dog sports, spending time with her large southern family, camping, boating and, of course, reading! For more information, please visitwww.jkhogan.com.

Where to find the author:

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/OfficialJKHogan
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JK_Hogan
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/jkhoganbooks/
Tumblr: http://officialjkhogan.tumblr.com/
Google+: https://plus.google.com/+JKHogan/
Instagram: http://instagram.com/jkhoganbooks

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Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: ebook copy of Shadows Fall by J.K. Hogan.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter. Link and Prizes provided by the author and Pride Promotions.
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Tour Dates & Stops:
10-Jun
Love Bytes
Rainbow Gold Reviews

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Cate Ashwood

12-Jun
Nephylim
Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews

15-Jun
Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words

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Bayou Book Junkie

17-Jun
Amanda C. Stone
Elin Gregory

18-Jun
TTC Books and More
Divine Magazine

19-Jun
Mikky’s World of Books
Elisa – My Reviews and Ramblings

22-Jun
BFD Book Blog

23-Jun
Book Reviews, Rants, and Raves
My Fiction Nook
Nic Starr

24-Jun
MM Good Book Reviews

25-Jun
Up All Night, Read All Day
Full Moon Dreaming

26-Jun
Happily Ever Chapter

29-Jun
Michael Mandrake

30-Jun
The Novel Approach

1-Jul
Prism Book Alliance

2-Jul
Hearts on Fire

3-Jul
Inked Rainbow Reads

6-Jul
Chris McHart
Multitasking Mommas

7-Jul
Molly Lolly
The Blogger Girls

Review: I Survived Seattle (Coming About #1) by J.K. Hogan

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

I Survived SeattleOnly his best friend’s wedding would make Justice Crawford leave the security of his home to fly across the country to Seattle to assume the best man duties that he has been given.  A  strange place, a schedule of events full of new people?  Just the beginning of a worst case scenario for Justice. Because  Justice is not only a deeply closeted gay Southern man but his social anxiety disorder and OCD make any new or strange situation problematic at best, a nightmare at its worst.  And this is definitely the worst that could happen.  That sometime during the festivities, Justice will be outed to the only friend he has ever known.

Sailor and charter boat captain Nic Valentine is returning home to Seattle from his father’s funeral when an attractive man literally falls into his lap when their plane hits some unexpected turbulence.  Eyes meet, attraction forms, a phone number is exchanged and then….nothing.  Cute guy disappears once Nic leaves the airplane in Seattle.  Nic is certain he will never see that man again but Fate and a wedding brings them together once more.

Justice has let his disorders and closeted status isolate him from society and a chance at love.  Nic’s past includes a closeted boyfriend that hurt him deeply and now he isn’t sure he wants to take another chance with a man who hides who he really is.  But sometimes love finds a way to bring the most unlikely of people together for their HEA.  Will Nic and Justice find the courage to take a chance on each other?

J.K. Hogan’s romantic tale, I Survived Seattle (Coming Ab0ut #1) has two opposite personality characters that meet cute on a plane.  A spate of turbulence, ok, a ton of turbulence throws Justice Crawford into the lap of one Nic Valentine during the flight.  A few words, a couple of flirtatious glances are exchanged and hopes are raised for a lite romcom.

But  initial impressions are often deceiving. One man is on the way to his best friend’s wedding, the other returning from his father’s funeral.  One has serious mental health issues and the other is grieving over his father’s loss.  Not exactly comedic fare and I am not sure the introduction works to frame out the depth of the problems and the complexities in store for both men once they land in Seattle.  But once that plane lands….this story really takes off.  Don’t you love it when that happens?

Justice Crawford is a man sinking under the weight of his problems.  When he was younger, the decision to come out to his parents, cost him home and family.  Only the support of a grandfather in a retirement home, enabled Justice to attend college and complete his degree.  The trauma of that situation forced Justice back into the closet and no one, not even Rory his best friend and only family, knew he was gay.  In addition to being closeted, Justice suffers from a social anxiety disorder and OCD.  Medication has helped but fear and his anxiety have kept Justice in a cage or closet of his own making along with his decision to hide his homosexuality.  Hogan makes this character delightfully easy to empathize with,even with his closeted status.  He is socially inept and closed off, and still we like him.  We see where his past and his anxiety have contributed to the fears he is letting dictate his life and we are able to understand him.

Nic Valentine is the much more genial and open of the two personalities.  He lives aboard his charter boat, accepts who he is and longs for a partner to complete his life.  Nic’s past includes a closeted boyfriend so we can understand Nic’s frustration with and uncertainty about pursuing a relationship with Justice.  Both men come complete with a pair of best friend/girl friends who support them and help their relationship along.  I liked them as well as I did the main characters.  Rory, the best friend, is a little more elusive a character.  It was hard to get a feel for him and that was important given the fact that Justice’s fear over losing him is central to his rationale for staying in the closet.  More of Rory or more of Rory and Justice’s past history would have solidified this element of the story.  And I am not certain how I feel about a certain character who seemed more of a plot device to boost Justice out of the closet than a real human being. Maybe he will grow on me if he returns in the sequel.

J.K. Hogan may reside in North Carolina but she has life on the water and Seattle down pat.  I loved the descriptions of Nic’s boat and the harbor in Seattle.  His carefully organized space and quarters sound realistic and attractive.  Did I want to be there on his boat?  Why yes I did.  I could feel the peacefulness and quiet that Justice felt when he stood on deck because Hogan’s descriptions were able to transport me there to stand next to him.

Another element of this story I appreciate was the degree of  authenticity in regard to Justice’s anxiety disorder and OCD.  There is no magic wand to make it all better.  Instead thee is an adjustment of medication, and long term visits with a therapist to help Justice lead a more normal life.  We get a better understanding of what can trigger anxiety attacks and exactly how that can incapacitate a person.  Like I stated, not exactly comedic fare.  But it works when developing a character that comes across as real instead of a stereotype.   And Justice feels as real as they come.

I Survived Seattle is the debut novel for J.K. Hogan and I found it to be a sweet, rewarding and totally endearing first jump for this author into the m/m romance genre.  From the title I anticipate this is but the first in a series.  Perhaps the next in line just might be the recently married but unhappy Rory? I can’t wait to find out.  But while we are waiting, grab up I Survived Seattle.  You are going to love Justice and Nic and their journey to their own HEA!

Cover art by Wilde City Press. The cover has a number of nice elements but I am not sure they work together to form a cohesive whole.  It’s a little murky but the font is nice as is the Seattle backdrop and inclusion of a boat.

 Book Details:

ebook, 161 pages
Published March 19th 2014 by Wilde City Press
ISBN139781925031911
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://www.wildecity.com/books/gay-romance/i-survived-seattle/#.UzjYAfldWNE
seriesComing About #1

Buy Links:  Wilde City Press   Amazon   ARe

Rain, Rain Go Away and the Week Ahead in Reviews, Author Guest Blogs and Contests

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bradley-blvdAnd it rained, and rained and rained……again we got over 3 to 4 inches of rain this weekend.  On top of about 5 to 6 inches a week or so ago. To say that everything around here is soggy is an understatement.  I swear I can hear the concrete squish when cars roll by.  There was a Canada goose standing on my roof, honking away a couple of days ago.  Probably thought my house was an island in the midst of all that water.  Crazy thing.  Problem was that it was Huntington VA floodingright!  What’s next?  Trout?

As I watch all the water swirl away, I kept thinking what a waste.  I wish there was a logical way to capture it al and maybe ship it out to California or Texas where it is needed.  Instead of a oil pipeline, perhaps a rainwater express to help alleviate some of our flooding and the drought that our new weather  patterns has brought to that area.  Rain barrels are great things…so are water catchments but I have standing water now in places that once was completely dry.  Is water gardening in my near future?  It’s looking that way….

I have a great schedule this week.  S.A. McAuley is stopping by to talk about her Borders War series and the next in the series, Powerless.  Katey Hawthorne is here with the next story in her Fairies series.  Amelia C. Gormley is taking us into summer with  her Saugatuck Summer. Plus I’ve discovered a new author for me, Leona Carver, who will be here talking about her writing and the inspiration behind No Oceans Too Deep.  Another new author for me is J.K. Hogan and I Survived Seattle. There are book giveaways connected to each author guest post and book tour so don’t miss out on a day here!  Oh, and a cover reveal by Amanda Young too!

I will finish the week up with  John Inman’s Spirit.  I just love this author’s stories and he will be here the following week with John Inman’s Writing with Humor and his growing up in a small town.

I also have two Winner Announcemenst.  Winner of S.J. Frost’s Knight of Fire is Midia.  Congratulations to Midia and my thanks to S.J. Frost for the guest blog and book donation and to all who stopped by and left comments. And Congratulations to MizEqualityPatricia, winner of the Kimber Vale’s contest for Double Takes.  Thank you, Kimber, for the guest post and great contest!

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The Week Ahead at ScatteredThoughts:

  • Monday, May 19:          Author Spotlight with SA McAuley and Powerless (Contest)
  • Monday, May 19, pm: Powerless by SA McAuley
  • Tuesday, May 20:         Author Spotlight:  Katey Hawthorne on Fairies
    Tuesday, May 20:          I Survived Seattle by J.K. Hogan
  • Wed., May 21:                Amelia C. Gormley’s Saugatuck Summer Book Tour/Contest
  • Wed., May 21 pm          Cover Reveal for Amanda Young’s GWM Wanted Novel
  • Thursday, May 22:       Author Spotlight on Leona Carver and No Oceans Too Deep (Contest)
  • Thursday, May 22:       Quick Stop: The Surgeon’s Apprentice by Richard Longfellow (Contest)
  • Friday, May 23:            No Oceans Too Deep by Leona Carver
  • Sat., May 24:                  Spirit by John Inman