Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Best of 2015


 From Books, Audiobooks to Book Covers


Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Best of 2015

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

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

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

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



From BJ:

✪Favorite Books Read in 2015:

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

✪ Best Audiobook of 2015:

Into Deep Waters by Kaje Harper, Narrated by Kaleo Griffith

✪Favorite Covers of 2015

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

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

Leythe BladeSomething Like A Love SongInDiscretion_500x750Neskaya

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



From Stella:



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

                                                                                        From Ali

✪ Best books:  These are my top 5 plus

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

  ✪Best Short Stories:

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

 ✪ Best Covers:

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

From Mika

✪My Favorite Books of 2015

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

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

✪Best Covers:

Conscious Decisions of the Heart civCarry the OceanTrust the Focus

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

From Sammy:

✪Best Books of 2015:

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

From Melanie

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

✪Best Books

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

Best Audiobook

Best Covers:

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






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


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







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






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

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



TheSubsClub_600x900Winter Oranges coverMy Magical Palace

A Mika Review: The Bruise-Black Sky (More Heat Than the Sun #5) by John Wiltshire

Rating:  4 star out of 5 stars 

The Bruise Black Sky coverBen usually overlooks Nikolas’s occasionally jarring dissonance. Not this time. A deep rift, a terrible lie, separates them. Eleven thousand miles from Nikolas, in New Zealand, it’s bitter winter as Ben films the tragic story of a post-apocalyptic gladiator, a victim of his own personal darkness. But on receiving a death threat, Ben suspects the truth of actor Oliver Whitestone’s suicide. Someone doesn’t want this movie made. It’s fortunate for Ben, therefore, that dissonance is a state of unrest, a longing for completion. As if Nikolas would stay at home in disgrace while Ben Rider-Mikkelsen becomes the target of a crazed stalker

Talk about secrets! Wow! Everyone is keeping a secret in this book. I thought this was one of the funniest books out the series. Nik was hilarious. Nik who obviously doesn’t think he is good with kids is sadly mistaken. This kid Miles astounded me. Him and Nik was so good together. In my hopeless mind I was picturing Nik with a son. HAH, I have this warm gooey feeling about him doing well. I hope I see Miles in future books. He was adorably cute. This picks up a year or two later from the last book. As usual something drastic happens for Nik to go back to Aleskey Special Forces Nik! Ha, I said it. He went full metal jacket. Ben who has his memories back is back to being Ben kind of. I felt like it was something off with him. I get it now reading the book. As usual they have their couple spats, and one does this wrong, and the other go pouts. This book, they were not playing around with each other. I mean, some indifferences had my heart beating wondering, if this was it. Could Nik do anything ever so awful that Ben would leave him? It’s a couple things in this book, that’s awful, but I find myself always forgiving Nik. I’m a complete tosser for Nik!

Nik and Ben in AMERICA! It was funny from their view point. Nik loves Ben with everything he has, and I think like every other book so far he shows it. He might not have the words, but his actions speak extremely louder than anything else. Of course we got to see Emilia, and her grandmother, as well as a few other familiar faces. I enjoyed them. I liked the plot as well. I really liked when Nik met with the police lady, it was family because they were both being stoic to each other. It was parts that was slow to me, and other parts I was intrigued by. I will continue reading this series because I love them. The shocking revelations in the book had me like WTF. That last 25% was the best ever! I can’t wait until the next book is out.

Cover Art by Deana Jamroz.  Now that I’ve had time to read it, I understand the cover. I don’t like it or dislike it really. It’s okay and continues with the type of cover of the previous books.

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

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 294 pages
Published March 19th 2015 by ManLove Romance Press

A Sammy Review: A Royal Affair by John Wiltshire

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Perhaps if I had listened more closely, I would have heard them all whispering his name. For it is his name I hear still in my nightmares and in my waking dreams. It is the everyday hum of my new life in this vast country. But it began there, on that ship, in the sense of longing in my heart. Even my heartbeat murmured his name.

I should have listened more closely.

A Royal Affair coverDoctor Nikolai Hartmann earns a reputation for himself after saving a wealthy man from evil poisons. That reputation summons him to a faraway land, to save a king who has presented similar symptoms, leaving him entertaining death. On his way to the king, he encounters despair unlike anything he’s seen before. Villages are impoverished, suffering is suffocating to all those who pass, and the cruelty is unbearable to an outsider like Nikolai.

One night, after witnessing particular horrific events, he is met by men that are camouflaged by the forest. Little does he expect to encounter them later on in his travels, or for one of them to be a Prince – the son of the very same king on his death bed.

Through poison, wars, and death, Aleksey and Nikolai come together, too entwined to ever separate again.

I was filled with searing, bitter, exalting, joyous, but awful knowledge that I loved Aleksey. I loved him as a man should love a woman. I wanted him as a man should want a woman.

But love, in my experience, was something that left you weak and vulnerable and near to death.

Some books have a plot, and yet have very little happen. This isn’t a fault of the book, merely the style. There are no explosions or great, tragic events. Just a simple story of life. This is not one of those stories. You will find all of these things in A Royal Affair, all of them in spades. Just when you think you’ve mounted the worst, more comes crashing down, sometimes quite literally.

The book was, quite bluntly, packed to the brim with events. And for the most part, it worked in the books favor. One thing can be said for sure, and that is that John Wiltshire is a master of words. Each phrase seemed to be delicately stringed together, like the author sat quietly and thought carefully about how one word would look next to the other. It’s beautiful, and especially in moments of depicting war, it was breathtaking. Death is ugly, and these words colored it in a beautiful and equally horrifying way.

It was, of course, not without its faults. For one, we met Mark in the beginning and unless I totally missed something happening to him, we never really heard of him again – just maybe two brief mentions after the actual meeting. I would’ve liked to know more about him, as all Aleksey’s other friends were wonderfully crafted and incredibly intriguing.

Also, I found that there were points in this where the book just felt so far beyond its 250 pages, and not necessarily in a good way. Had I not been so far enveloped in the story, I think it would’ve weighed far more heavy on me and made me become anxious to finally finish. If someone reads this and isn’t as interested in the nuances of a historical novel, I can see them easily growing bored with it. I, for the most part, did not, though I did feel its length, particularly at the beginning of the war section of the story.

One other thing that irritated me was the fade to black that we had for the first scene with actual penetration. There was a finger – and then just a brief summary that the night was most joyous. I’m greedy, I know this, but I wanted details. I suppose when you get to the end, it may make more sense as to why parts of the story were told as they were – simply through words and not actual dialogue between characters (these parts did coincide with the parts that began to feel a bit too lengthy to me, so that may speak to why those parts became particularly tedious).

Nevertheless, A Royal Affair is beautifully crafted and certainly a journey worth taking. I loved seeing not just a particular day or month in a characters life, but what truly felt like an entire, whole chapter of their life. This felt like I knew the characters for years, which was quite lovely. There is no doubt that I will be reading more by John Wiltshire, especially with the poetry he creates through the simplest of words.

The cover art by L.C. Chase is simply but perfect for the story. It doesn’t need any intricate cover with two men embracing or something that is commonly seen. The sword speaks for itself, and it makes for a striking first impression.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press eBook & Paperback       All Romance (ARe)        Amazon      Buy it here

Book Details:

ebook, 250 pages
Published September 8th 2014 by Dreamspinner Press
edition languageEnglish

Down Under Showcase Author: John Wiltshire

STRW down Under Banner sm Hearts

Radulf John Wiltshire Avatar

Meet John Wiltshire!

John Wiltshire is the prolific author of the More Heat Than The Sun series and other listed below.

To get to know John Wiltshire a little better, the author agreed to an interview. Look for the interview below and the Down Under Scavenger Hunt word found somewhere within.

✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍Author Bio 1

John spent twenty-two years in the military, perfecting the art
of looking busy whilst secretly writing. He left as a senior officer
when his tunnel was ready for use. He is now living in New
Zealand until he can raise enough money to leave. Although he
has no plans to return to the army, he can occasionally be caught
polishing his medals.


Author Contacts


Facebook Author Page:
GoodReads: John Wiltshire’s Fan Club on Goodreads – join here!

********************Author Books Stories Down Under1 copy

Love is a Stranger coverConscious Decisions of the Heart civThe Bridge of Silver Wings coverThis Other Country





More Heat Than the Sun is contemporary thriller/romance
A Royal Affair is historical romance
Catch Me When I Fall is fantasy romance

Catch Me When I FallA Royal Affair cover








Contests and Giveaways:

1. Today’s Giveaway (thank you, John Wiltshire) is an eBook copy the reader’s choice of the author’s backlist. Enter using this Rafflecopter link here.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.

2. Down Under Scavenger Hunt – find the Hunt “word or phrase” in bold green . John’s Question: Where did Nik and Ben find Radulf?

Collect all the words from each author and submit the list in writing no later than midnight on February 1st. Make sure you include an email address where you can be reached. Prizes will be given to 5 people selected, from 1st place to 5th! Happy Hunting.

******************************Author Qand A

Q When did you start writing?

I started writing for publication last year, so it’s been a very busy year!

Q.Were you a reader as a child?

Absolutely. I have a degree in English literature and I am the sort of guy who always has a book on the go. Since I got a kindle a couple of years ago I usually have half a dozen or more being currently read. I miss proper books though.

Q.What books as a child has the most impact on you?

The Famous Five. I wanted Timmy (for those of you not versed in such lofty literature, Timmy is a dog. I thought I’d better clarify).

Q. Did that impression carry over into adulthood when you started writing?

Yes, he’s now called Radulf, and he’s a bit of a star of my books. He seems more popular than the humans.

Q. Where do you draw inspiration from?

Many of my characters are ex-army, so that’s always a huge source of inspiration. Spirit of place is important to me, too. I’ve lived all over the world whilst serving in the army, and I like to bring exotic locations (is the taiga in Russia exotic?) into my stories.

Q. Do you have a favourite character that you have written?

I would have to say Nikolas Mikkelsen from the More Heat Than the Sun series. He’s so much fun to write. Also, there’s a new character coming up in Book 5 called Miles Toogood. I have a huge wellspring of love for Miles.

Q. Favourite quote (doesn’t matter the source)?

“Be the change you want to see”. I was going to put “kill them all and let God sort them out”, but I’m trying to be more PC.

Q. Favourite book/story you have read as an adult?

I’ve been an adult a very long time, so that’s impossible to answer. World War Z stands out as a bit of a winner, I guess.

Q. Do you have a certain regimen that you follow as a writer?

Not at all. I have to wait until I hear the voices in my head (only kidding).

Q. What inspired you to write your first book?

The voices in my head.

Q. What’s the hardest part of writing your books?

People not reading them.

Q. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your first book?

I might have made Nikolas younger. By Book 7 he’s 48 and he’s really, really pissed about being nearly 50.

Q. If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor or has the biggest influence on you?

Josh Lanyon in his Adrien English series. I would offer that series up against any detective series, straight or gay. It deserves a much wider audience. I love Adrien’s dry wit and Josh writes beautifully.

Q. What book are you reading now?

I’m actually reading Lucifer’s Hammer. I love apocalyptic novels and have pretty much read them all. This is one I’ve struggled with, so I was very evil and skipped to where the damn comet actually struck the earth.

Q. How do you think books written from authors in Australia or New Zealand differ in style, language, and culture?

That’s hard for me to say as I’m English and squatting here like a stray migratory bird, but there is definitely a spirit of place in the Kiwi novels I’ve read. The land informs the plot. But then my novels are often set in and around Dartmoor in England, and there is nowhere in the world more beautiful than Dartmoor.

Q. My first impression of AUS/NZ was from stories and novels like Colleen McCullough’s The Thorn Birds or Nevil Shute’s A Town Like Alice as well as from movies like The Man from Snowy River, The Dish, Rabbit Proof Fence, Strictly Ballroom, and yes, Crocodile Dundee! There are so many out there. What is your favorite AUS/NZ stories and favorite Australian/New Zealand movies?

Uncle’s Story by Witi Ihimaera is one of the best books I’ve ever read and very inspiring. I also really enjoyed The Colour by Rose Tremain. I love Australian cinema and recently saw Guy Pearce in The Rover, which was amazing in a bleak way. Manu Bennett is one of my favourite actors, as was Andy Whitfield.

Q. What’s your favourite spot to visit in your own country? And what makes it so special to you?

Dartmoor. It’s my spiritual home. If I lived a previous life, then I think I lived it on Dartmoor. It calls to me.

Q. What are your current projects?

I’m writing a novel wholly set in NZ about two men, both immigrants, who meet in very unfortunate circumstances. They are both straight, according to them, so that denial will be a lot of fun to work through with them. I have the three next More Heat Than the Sun novels finished and also the sequel to A Royal Affair with my publisher – Aleksey’s Kingdom—so I’m probably feeling a bit complacent about my writing pace at the moment.

Q What’s next up for you?

Back to England for Christmas! I’m off in two weeks for cold climes and darkness at half past three in the afternoon.

Q. Is there anyone you’d like to take this opportunity to thank?

Yes, thank you for asking that question, there is. I’d like to thank A. B. Gayle and all the guys in my fan club on Goodreads. They are a brilliant bunch and have really made the writing process a great deal less lonely and frustrating.