Our Best Books of April 2015

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parabook

This year has been a little crazy and we got away from our monthly Best of Lists!  But they are back starting with April 2015.

Let’s take a closer look at those stories we read and loved so much.  One or two are 4.75 stars rounded up to 5, the rest are 5 star rated stories.  Are some of yours there t0o?  Drop us a line and let us know what books and authors stood out for you this month!

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Best Books of April 2015

crossed olive branches

 

Fantasy:

Contemporary Romance:

Science Fiction:

Supernatural/Paranormal:

YA – Aurora Reviews (Both 5 stars)

Review: Backburn (Fighting Fire #3) (PF 2014) by Laura Harner

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Backburn coverNothing between Park Ranger Rob Hammond and disabled firefighter Scott McGregor has ever been easy.  From their early romance and traumatic breakup to their reunion in Scott’s hospital room where Scott was recovering from injuries that killed most of his crew and cost him the profession he loved.  Scott had hoped that with Rob’s reappearance, their romance and relationship was back on track.  But with one ill advised phone call to Rob’s mother, Scott has derailed that hope even though he refuses to admit it.

Scott is also having problems with PTSD and his nightmares are getting worse. The stress and strain of operating Mountain Shadows and the problems that have been popping up recently aren’t helping either.  Strange and horrifying things are happening around the campground and Scott aims to get at the causes even if he has to investigate it by himself..

Rob Hammond is faltering under the weight of the secrets he has been keeping and his efforts to become a wildland firefighter.  He is just beginning to realize that Scott’s PTSD is worse than Scott had let on and Scott’s phone call to his mother brought up painful past problems that he had pushed aside.   A run in with an old acquaintance and another call from home make Rob realize that he had some hard decisions to make and that they need to be made soon before everything he hopes to achieve goes up in flames.

When one man finally understands what he wants, the other person’s reality combusts.  When you fight fire with fire, will both of them and their relationship be burned beyond compare?

What is a backburn?  A backburn in firefighter terms means to create firebreak in path of brushfire: to prevent a brushfire from spreading by lighting another fire in its path

Reading this series is like walking towards a fire.  With each new story acting like a new step forward, the reader and Harner’s characters get closer and closer to the flames.  As the heat and the danger combine, it increases incrementally the treacherous nature of the situation these characters find themselves in as the story proceeds. Then it explodes in a ball of fire at the end in a way that will leave you dazed, a more than a little fearful and standing at a precipice with no where to go.  And you will totally love it.

Scott and Rob, the troubled duo at the heart of this series are back and in worse shape than ever.  Scott is living in denial about practically everything going on in his life.  And that state of delusion has made Scott act ill-advisedly where his and Rob’s past is concerned.   One phone call to Rob’s mother shatters Scott’s hopes about their future and Rob’s plans for them as well.  Harner also brings in the realistic element of Scott’s PTSD and his continued avoidance of any treatment.  When Scott breaks down when undergoing traumatic flashbacks to the fire that cost him everything, we are able to feel the weight of those memories and the pain they are still able to cause.  Not only do we understand why Scott is acting so impudently but we can see the consequences coming even if he doesn’t.  We can like this character even if we don’t like his actions.

Rob too has so many layers to his character.  And like Scott, we also won’t like certain aspects of his past or his persona.  But also like Scott, Harner provides us with enough personal details and back history that once we put his actions within context then that conduct starts to make sense.  Rob grows more as a character here than he has in past stories.  That growth will trigger decisions and events that we will not see coming, another marvelous element to these stories.

Fires and the devastation that comes with those who choose to become firefighters is a prevailing element here.  We see the sacrifice that is called for when someone decides on becoming a firefighter and the pain and sorrow that will follow in its path.   That Scott loves and misses his profession is clear.  So is the ultimate sacrifice his crew made and the survivor guilt that is overwhelming the only man left alive by that fire.  Harner’s vivid descriptions and emotional scenes bring Scott’s inability to deal with that fatal fire to life in breathtaking detail.  That people choose to do this challenging, dangerous, and necessary profession makes me grateful and awed.  In Scott McGregor we can see and feel the cost as well as the dedication needed to be such a firefighter.  That’s thanks to Laura Harner as well.

The ending is emotionally devastating and will leave you hanging.  This used to bother me.  But in a series and in the hands of an author who does this cliffhanger so well, it works to keep us on the ledge and happy to be there.  I can’t wait to see what happens next and so will you.

If you are new to the series, in fact the entire Pulp Friction 2014 interconnected stories, start at the beginning to get the most from these authors stories and characters.  I have listed all the series and stories below.  I consider Backburn and Fighting Fire (along with all the rest of the Pulp Friction 2014 group) to be one of ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords Best of 2014.

Cover art by Laura Harner

Book Details:

64 pages
Published May 13th 2014 by Hot Corner Press
ISBN139781937252816
edition languageEnglish
seriesFighting Fire #3, Pulp Friction 2014 #9

 Buy Links:          Amazon              ARe

About Pulp Friction 2014: Laura Harner ~ Lee Brazil ~ Havan Fellows ~ T.A. Webb The Pulp Friction 2014 Collection. Four authors. Four Series. Twenty books. One fiery finale. Spend a year with an eclectic group of strangers brought together through circumstances, as they are tested by life, and emerge as more than friends.

The strongest bonds are forged by fire, cooled in air, smoothed by water, grounded in earth. Although each series can stand alone, we believe reading the books in the order they are released will increase your enjoyment. There will be five rounds and one final story written by all four authors.

Round One of Pulp Friction 2014:

Firestorm (Fighting Fire# 1) by Laura Harner
Cold Snap (In From the Cold# 1) by Lee Brazil
Blown Away (Where the Wind Blows# 1) by Havan Fellows
Higher Ground (Earthquake# 1) by Tom Webb

Round Two of Pulp Friction 2014:

Controlled Burn (Fighting Fire #2) by Laura Harner
Cold Comfort (In From the Cold #2) by Lee Brazil
Blown Kisses (Where the Wind Blows #2) by Havan Fellows
Moving Earth (Earthquake #2) by Tom Webb

Round Three of Pulp Friction 2014:

Backburn (Fighting Fire #3) by Laura Harner
Cold Feet (In From the Cold #3) by Lee Brazil
Blow Hard (Where the Wind Blows #3) by Havan Fellows
Tremors (Earthquake #3) by Tom Webb

 

Memories, Memorials, and Memorial Day and the Week Ahead

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Memorial Day.  Two words that bring forth powerful emotions and memories of both of those from our past as well as our present.  We think of the past and those deceased while at the same time our memories are full of family celebrations, and the laughter and love that speaks of life itself.

I was thinking of both of those as I watched the film on the news of the inauguration ceremony of National September 11 Memorial & Museum in NYC.  The pictures brought forth a profound sadness as the cameras scanned over the survivors and their families as well as the exhibits, stopping here and there for closeups and personal stories.  A staircase that was the only avenue for some to freedom and life stands bone white, covered in ash.  Bent, blackened metal framework from parts of the structure from the towers loom upwards over the crowds within the museum, much like the towers they once helped support.  All chilling and stark reminders of that day and our national tragedy.

But for me it was the small items that were so poignant and personal that they made the pain and loss intimate and immediate once more.  A red bandana World Trade Center 9:11 Museaumfrom a young man who sacrificed his life to make sure others got down safely.  His mother was present,full of pride for her  son, as she stood next to his photograph and his red scarf now enclosed in glass. It was the scarf that the survivors he helped down that day remember him by.  Over and over again, a young man in a red bandana grabbed people, moving them towards safety and life.  The expression on her face, so full of love, loss, and grief, was visceral as she looked at the scarf.  Another survivor was there looking at the black, dusty shoes she donated that she wore that day as she walked down all those flights of steps. She ended up caring them as she ended up finally walking down in her bare feet because the pain of going down all those steps made wearing them impossible.  Small item after item, watches, cell phones, glasses, standing side by side next to the physically imposing and massive items from the World Trade Center bombings, like a fire truck and or large pieces of masonry from the Pentagon, yes that’s there too. And there is a wall of photographs of those that died that day.  Every race, every gender,, every age….all represented there.  Forever remembered, forever immortalized.

It made me think of another wall, one full of names on black marble.  Here in Washington, DC, where huge crowds will gather on this weekend to Vietnam Vet Memorialremember, to grieve and to celebrate lives now gone.  There will be Rolling Thunder, and parades, and the echoing refrain of Taps heard over Arlington Cemetery this weekend. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial, my favorite of all Washington memorials, stands as one of our more  striking and haunting memorials. The pictures found there aren’t on the wall but will be left by loved ones, friends, family, and fellow soldiers who come to commune with the dead and their memories.  There, as well as in New York City, the memorials will help all of us remember and help to mitigate the grief left behind.  Powerful images, powerful emotions, and a powerful almost unimaginable amount of loss.

Take a moment this Memorial Weekend and remember.  Do something that will celebrate their life as well as remember their loss.

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Now for the week ahead here at ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords:

  • Monday, May 26:        Love Comes Home by Andrew Grey
  • Tuesday, May 27:        Author Spotlight: Writing with Humor by John Inman
  • Wed., May 28:              Book Tour:  Sierra Cartwright’s Crave
  • Wed., May 28:              Hostile Ground by Aleksandr Voinov and LA Witt
  • Thursday, May 29:      Saugatuck Summer by Amelia C. Gormley
  • Thursday, May 29:      Clipped by Devon McCormack
  • Friday, May 30:           Moving Earth by T.A. Webb
  • Saturday, May 31:        Back Burn by Laura Harner
  • Saturday, May 31:        May Summary of Reviews/Best Covers

 

 

 

Vietnam Vet Memorial 2

 

 

Thoughts on Memorial Day…

Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep – Mary Frye (1932)

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am in a thousand winds that blow;
I am the softly falling snow.

I am the gentle showers of rain;
I am the fields of ripening grain.
I am in the morning hush;
I am in the graceful rush.

Of beautiful birds in circling flight,
I am the starshine of the night.
I am in the flowers that bloom,
I am in a quiet room.

I am the birds that sing,
I am in each lovely thing.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there. I do not die.

 

Review:Controlled Burn (Fighting Fire #2) by Laura Harner

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5:

Controlled BurnDisabled firefighter Scott McGregor is just beginning to settle in at his new home and profession as the owner/operator of Mountain Shadows Campground.  Complete with lodge and multiple rental cabins scattered throughout the grounds, Scott is finding balancing the renters, new and those that have lived there for years, a real challenge.  But that is nothing to having his ex lover and friend, Robby Hammond, back in his life again.

Years ago Scott McGregor outed Robby to his family in a moment of anger and the aftermath had lasting repercussions for all.  Now his accident and an old emergency contact card has brought Robby back into Scott’s life but nothing is as Scott had imagined or hoped for.  Robby seems to be hiding a part of himself and his life from Scott.  And Scott can’t seem to get past his old image of Robby to see the man that Robby has become.  With such a clash of outlooks and wrongful assumptions, it’s no wonder that Robby and Scott are having problems communicating.

As Scott tries to figure out how to make things right with Robby,two men temporarily check into one of Mountain Shadows seasonal cabins to work on a Native American artifact collection at the Flagstaff musuem.  Handsome and erudite, they just might be the thing to take Scott’s and Robby’s mind off their issues, especially with Robby’s connection to the collection by way of his job and his heritage.  But nothing is ever simple with Scott and Robby.  A phone call further complicates the assumptions and misunderstandings between the men. And that, along with the new renters, escalates things out of control.

Controlled Burn sees the long standing issues of perception and personal problems between Scott and Robby intensify.  In Firestorm we started to get an outline of Scott and Robby’s past relationship but with Controlled Burn, that outline starts to fill in from the very first paragraph.  It’s a flashback to Scott and Robby’s college days when they were lovers.  Laura Harner drops the reader into the middle of a heated argument between Scott and Robby’s conservative professional Army father.  It’s clear almost immediately that things are out of control between them and the ending is nothing short of traumatic for everyone there.  It would be years before Scott and Robby saw each other again.  Harner has the dialog just right for a idealistic college young man and a professional soldier sliding into dementia.  It’s full of passion and rage, fear and hatred, between two  people who steadfastly believe each is right.  And its such a terrific way to bring the reader back into the complicated lives of Scott McGregor and Robby Hammond.

Both of the main characters here totally surprise me.  There is so much  hidden depths to one, and a total deceptive clarity to the other.  Scott’s background and viewpoint are laid out before us.  Scott thinks he knows what he wants and what Robby wants too.  And he goes for it with all the subtlety of a rodeo bull.  It’s Robby that’s the enigma.  The true Robby is elusive to the reader and to Scott.  We have clues scattered here and there, a picture of a woman, and some astounding statements from Robby about his sexuality.  But something straightforward or anything less than opaque is missing.   I love this element of the story.  A real mystery at the heart of the series.  Because it is clear that Scott has never really understood Robby at all.  This element of the story seems so real, where its all about perceptions and assumptions and how blind you can be to a reality you don’t want to see.

Of course that’s not all that’s going on here.  There are multiple small and large mysteries at play at Mountain Shadows just waiting to come to the fore.  I love those too. This series just keeps getting better as the complications pile up.  My only frustration is not having the next story in line to read.  Short in length, deceptively deep in content, the Pulp Friction 2014 stories, Controlled Burn(Fighting Fire #2) in particular, are like delectable amuse-bouche, you can’t eat just one.  They are addicting.  Consider all of them and Controlled Burn highly recommended.

Cover art by Laura Harner is perfect for the story and series branding.

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 50 pages
Published March 14th 2014 by Hot Corner Press
ASINB00J0YWQ90
edition languageEnglish
seriesFighting Fire #2
Pulp Friction 2014 Series

Round One of Pulp Friction 2014:

Firestorm (Fighting Fire# 1) by Laura Harner
Cold Snap (In From the Cold# 1) by Lee Brazil
Blown Away (Where the Wind Blows# 1) by Havan Fellows
Higher Ground (Earthquake# 1) by Tom Webb

Round Two of Pulp Friction 2014:

Controlled Burn (Fighting Fire #2) by Laura Harner
Cold Comfort (In From the Cold #2) by Lee Brazil
Blown Kisses (Where the Wind Blows #2) by Havan Fellows
Moving Earth (Earthquake #2) by Tom Webb

 

Spring has Sprung…finally, Winner Announcements and the Week Ahead in Reviews, Contests, and Author Guest Blogs

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Well, I am almost afraid to say it….maybe Spring has finally arrived here in the DC Metro area. Shhhhhh! Not too loud.  I hate to be superstitious but  lately it seems like the sleet, or snow is just hovering at the edges threatening to make a reappearance and coat everything in white instead of cherry blossoms.  So I am going to tiptoe around the fact that I got out in the yard for the first time to start my garden cleanup and to check out if any brave little sprouts had made it above ground.  The irises have poked out, so have the autumn sedum…plucky souls that they are.  The maple trees are in flower and the squirrels are taking full advantage by littering the yard with all the flowers and twigs they have snipped off to get at the maple sap.  Oh that maple sap….the first run is so sweet, like a cold drink of water with a hint of sugar……that if boiled down becomes that golden wonder maple syrup.maple trees tapped

At this time of year (ok earlier in March but not this year), I used to give maple sugaring demonstrations to the public.  I would be boiling gallons of sap that I started to collect in January and stored until March from trees along the stream banks where the old mature red and sugar maples stood.  I would let the kids watch me tap a tree and, if lucky, watch the maple syrup evaporatorsap start to run out the hole immediately to their awe and wonder.  Then over to the evaporator and the wood fire that constantly burned cooking away the water and reducing the sap to syrup.  It’s quite a laborous process which is one of the reasons that the price for maple syrup runs so high.  I would tap red and silver maples native to Maryland, sugar maples that had been planted for their color and even boxelders that make a strong hearty syrup, each species of tree giving the syrup its own unique taste.  I would even order some Alaska Birch syrup to give everyone a taste of that regionally strong and robust syrup, my that’s an  acquired taste.

In New England they don’t start this process until April because of their winters and this year Maryland is right along with them due to our unusually harsh and lingering  winter.  How I loved introducing people who have grown up on Log Cabin or Mrs. Butterworth’s to the real thing!  That never gets old.  I love the natural history and the cultural history to making maple syrup.  It keeps me in touch with the past, it makes me appreciate the changing of the seasons and the bounty of nature.  And what it can do to a stack of blueberry pancakes is out of thismaply syrup world….

So yeah….Spring is here.  The maple trees in flower and the squirrels gnawing the heck out of them for the sweet sap tells me so.  And now I feel the need to go make some flapjacks.  With butter.  And real maple syrup of course!

Winner Announcements! The winner of Katey Hawthorne’s Book Contest is Alishead1.  Congratulations to Alishead1.
Leah Karge is the winner of the When All the World Sleeps blog tour. Congratulations to Leah too! Thanks to everyone who left comments.  Your participation is always appreciated. The winners have been notified.

Oh, and happy 5th Anniversay to Less Than Three Press, congratulations to you too.

While I am making breakfast, here is the schedule for the week ahead:

  •  Monday, April 7:    The Calm Before by Neena Jayden
  • Tuesday, April 8:     The Forester II: Lost and Found by Blaine D. Arden
  • Wed, April 9:             Author Spotlight: Blaine D. Arden (and Book Giveaway)
  • Thurday, April 10:    In Distress by Katey Hawthorne
  • Friday, April 11:        Controlled Burn by Laura Harner
  •  ***************        Cold Comfort by Lee Brazil
  • Saturday, April 12:    Every Time I Think of You by Jim Provenzano

Pulp Friction’s 2014 Group Series Has Arrived! Meet the Authors, Enter to Win $25 Gift Card!

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Firestorm by Laura Harner

Cold SnapBlown Away coverHigher Ground cover

Pulp Friction Gang Rides Again!

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ScatteredThoughts is so happy to have the Pulp Friction gang (Laura Harner, TA Webb, Lee Brazil, and Havan Fellows) here again to talk about their 2014 Pulp Friction series and characters.

Contest: They have brought a $25 All Romance gift certificate to celebrate the start of the new Pulp Friction stories.  To be entered to win, just leave a comment and a email address where you can be contacted.  Contest ends 3/21.

Laura: Ever been on a roller coaster? I’m talking a no holds barred, twist and turn, wrench at your gut, show you your lunch, dislocate your spine and give you whiplash roller coaster? Yeah? They’re fun right? Try riding one for a whole year and you’ve got the equivalent of how the Pulp Friction gang felt our first year out the gate with Pulp Friction 2013 – Atlanta.

None of us knew what to expect – there was no rule book, no crib notes, not a damn cheat sheet on how to successfully do a quad-multiple series collection of books with crossovers from all the main characters and a lot of the minor ones while threading in one major mystery that would be the pinnacle of the final book written by all four authors while still spitting out a single book every fifteen days. *breathes* WOW – did we do that?

That is exactly what we did. And you know what? We nailed it! Sure, we had our ups and downs—someone forgot their character’s eye color, or that they had kissed another MC in a different book, or that they had to kill someone soon, or even that their deadline was next up—but our pow wow sessions helped keep everyone in line and were FUN!

Because if you aren’t having fun why the hell are you doing it?

But that’s enough about the past…let’s talk about what that experience did for the future of Pulp Friction. Let me introduce you to Pulp Friction 2014 Flagstaff!

We took everything we learned from last year and brainstormed about how we can learn from it and make another PF year – but do it bigger and better and bolder!
New main characters
More crossovers
Bonus books
Layers of plots that overlap
Teasers that keep you guessing
Cliff hangers
Shocking beginnings

That is one hell of a list we have going there, to make it easier let’s just focus on the first item today. Our new main characters.

I loved our boys of Atlanta, the original group of five and the four newcomers that joined them. They were terrific. So…

STRW: How did the Pulp Friction group step away from their beloved men of Atlanta and start anew?

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Tom: My first instinct was to carry over Marcus’s little (hah) brother and his new love interest into Flagstaff. Then I thought of two things; did I really want to make it “easy” on myself, and if I did, I’d have a revolt in the fan base, plus diminishing the integrity of the characters themselves.

I’ve been a little out of commission the past few months, and joined in the planning a little bit hit-and-miss. My three cohorts have been so patient and kind in their support, and when I thought about what I wanted to do next, their kick-ass enthusiasm made me want to stretch and make my next set of characters something very different. We see big alpha men and smaller mate types all the time. What if…the big guy was laid back and bottom, and the smaller guy was a little swishy, arrogant and an alpha queen? And what if he hit all the big guy’s buttons, but had a past that kept him from committing to a relationship?

Enter Charlie and Amos.

I decided to write in first person this time, and make it from Charlie’s point of view. Charlie is my almost-thirty construction contractor with a business he inherited when his dad died suddenly while Charlie was in college. So my big guy quit school, left his lover, and became the man of the house for his little brother who he adores, and his mom. Now, his brother is fifteen going on brat-aged, and his mother decides it’s time for Charlie to have a life of his own, outside work and family.

And then there’s Amos. Spiffy, smart, full of himself. He’s alone in the world, the owner of an art gallery, and a hit-it-and-leave-it kind of man. Bi-racial, a shorter, lean “mean-girl”, Amos sees Charlie, wants him, and tries his best to leave the man as a one night stand, but something draws him back. There’s heat and fire between them, and the fact Charlie is working for him, remodeling his gallery drives Amos crazy.

It’s bad enough they have their own issues that will cause them to back off from each other, but Charlie’s brother Damon, who is NOT impressed with Amos, creates all kinds of commotion.

Now, with those characters, who will notice Marcus and his Benjamin are in Atlanta, happily married?

See? PF2014Flagstaff rocks, baby!

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Havan: It wasn’t easy, I was really scared. Everyone seemed to either love or hate Wick—but they all agreed they wanted more of him. Were they going to look at Rowen and Mick and expect to see Wick in one of them? I hoped not, because personally there could only be one Wick in my life.

Then one night we were brainstorming about Pulp Friction 2014 and Flagstaff and I thought to myself—my guy is a recluse! After months of not being able to think of anybody to write the next year Rowen slammed me with an overabundance of information about himself. He was a loner who wasn’t an ass, but darn sure wasn’t an open and inviting person. He doesn’t trust easily, he has issues (I know really? lol) He…well I guess I shouldn’t say too much about him, you know? But who in their right mind would agree to go toe to toe with such a man?

Mick approached me with a huge smile on his face. Talk about the epitome of a happy go lucky no worries type of guy—oh he’s perfect for Rowen! Now comes the fun part. In book one you got an introduction to the characters…what book two has to offer, well you’ll find out in mid-April. 🙂

On a side note, I’ve been asked if I’m done writing about Wick and Ned? I believe in never saying never…*blinks* even if I just said never twice, I mean three times. I haven’t closed the door on Wick or Ned—I probably never will—but right now Wick is more interested in enjoying what Ned has to offer than what I do. *winks*

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Lee: Some might say I took the easy way out by bringing over one of my characters from Atlanta. That seed, by the way, was carefully planted in the final books of 2013. You’ll find mention of Cannon’s relocation in Chance in Hell and Odd Man Out. It probably wasn’t all that surprising then for many people to see him.

I don’t think that using an established character lightened my work load though. Cannon is not an easy man to like. I think just about everyone who read PF 2013 absolutely loathed the man.

By moving him to Flagstaff I committed to taking this man everyone hated and showing what went on in his head, making him likeable and heroic even.

In light of the fact that Cannon was supposed to be the love interest in Chances Are, I felt I owed it to the man. After all, it wasn’t his fault that everyone, including Chance, liked Rory better. I knew by the time I finished Chances Are that Cannon had lost his place, but I continued to abuse him throughout the series. Creating a HEA for a villain everyone despised won’t be easy at all.

But after everything he went through, Cannon deserves a chance at happiness.

Finn Lorensson is just the man to give it to him. Finn was born in a single moment, from a few lines that popped into my head before I even started writing notes for the stories. If you’ve read Cold Snap, you probably recognize these lines. For me, they are the essential sum of Finn’s character.

“I like to hear a man’s voice crack when he says please. I like to hear the soft desperation in the way he breathes. I like to see his skin flush and his chest heave.
“I like to know he wants what only I can give.”

Perfect for Cannon, don’t you think?

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Laura: I’ll echo what the others said about starting over with new characters being scary. We all have ideas for books, but it isn’t easy to come up with an idea that will meld with the ideas of three other authors.

I spent many years working for the National Park Service and the Bureau of Land Management and given the tragic fire in Prescott this past summer, the characters of Scott, the injured wildland firefighter, and Robby, the NPS Ranger, are a natural fit for me.

In the first book, Scott is clearly shown to be a hero, but there are hints to his personality there. He will always rush in first, consider consequences later. I think you’ll see the dark side to that character trait in the next book, Controlled Burn.

Robby tends to be the opposite. He wants to consider all of the angles, and will almost always make decisions on what he believes is best for everybody—often at his own expense.

I also have a little surprise for fans of my Willow Springs Ranch Series. Park and Tanner arrive at Mountain Shadows and interact with a few of the characters in a brand new PF 2014 Bonus Book. Kismet and Cartwheels will be out this week, along with the next release in the Fighting Fire Series, Controlled Burn.

We really want to thank all of the Pulp Friction fans who have spread the word about our crazy interconnected serial fiction: four series, 20 books, the grand finale. In Atlanta, we started with a core cast of characters, who already considered themselves family. In PF 2014, we hope you will enjoy watching this group of relative strangers grow into a family by choice. Sort of the way Tom, Havan, Lee and I have become a family, too.

Be sure to leave a comment to enter for a chance to win a $25 All Romance eBooks gift card. And again contest ends 3/21.

Thanks for hosting us, Melanie.

STRW:  Thanks for stopping by, everyone.  I can’t wait to read the next books in the series.  Again, don’t forget to leave a comment with your email address to be entered to win the $25 ARe gift certificate! Contest ends 3/21/2014.

Pulp Friction 2014: From the Pulp Friction Group: The Pulp Friction 2014 Collection. Four authors. Four Series. Twenty books. One fiery finale. Spend a year with an eclectic group of strangers brought together through circumstances, as they are tested by life, and emerge as more than friends. The strongest bonds are forged by fire, cooled in air, smoothed by water, grounded in earth. Although each series can stand alone, we believe reading the books in the order they are released will increase your enjoyment.

Round One:
Firestorm (Fighting Fire: 1) by Laura Harner
Cold Snap (In From the Cold: 1) by Lee Brazil
Blown Away (Where the Wind Blows: 1) by Havan Fellows
Higher Ground (Earthquake: 1) by TA Webb

Review: Firestorm (Fighting Fire #1) by Laura Harner

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Firestorm by Laura HarnerAfter a wildland fire put Scott McGregor on the disabled list and ended his career as a firefighter, Scott had to start his life anew.  While in the hospital, an old emergency contact number saw the reentry into his life of Robby Hammond, a former college lover of his.  Together they see  Scott settled into his new home and life as owner of the Mountain Shadows Campgrounds.  Comprised of a number of rental cabins as well as a bed and breakfast, Mountain Shadows is full of challenges, not the least of which is having Robby Hammond back in his life again.

Finding Scott again after all these years is hard enough for Robby but then to see Scott alone and in pain in that burn unit, well, that was enough for Robby to do the unthinkable and uproot his own life.  Leaving San Francisco is hard but taking a job as a law enforcement ranger part time is even harder. Robby, like Scott, has to adjust to a new town, Flagstaff, and a new residence too.  What is not new to either man is the white hot attraction that sparks back to life the moment they see each other again.

But what forced them to separate the first time around remains between them causing them both unlimited hurt.  Still the flames of love and passion continue to rise.  Where there is smoke, there is sure to be fire…sooner or later.

The Pulp Friction authors have started the adventure once more!  Firestorm (Fighting Fire#1) is the first in Laura Harner’s series for the Pulp Friction 2014 interconnected storyline and its off to a terrific start.  Comprised off just six chapters, Harner dumps the reader immediately into Scott’s new life as he travels with Robby from the burn unit in Albuquerque where he was recently discharged to the Mountain Shadows campground where he is to begin his new life.  We learn bits and pieces of Scott (and Robby’s past) as they travel the road up the mountain uncertain of exactly what his new property looks like.

I love riding along with the characters as they prepare to start this new chapter in their lives.  It brings us face to face with all the uncertainty and stress of the unknown ahead of Scott.  The property was bought sight unseen and Scott has no idea of what lies ahead of him.  Harner gives us a man on the precipice of a monumental life change and this character is reeling with the stress of the changes he has gone through while still trying to recover from the burns of the fire.  It makes Scott both  someone we can empathize with and relate to, complete with limp and scarring, emotional and physical.

Packed on top of all the drastic changes in his life, the reentry of Robby Hammond adds one more tumultuous layer to the situation Scott faces.  Harner is crafty in only doling out bits and pieces of Scott and Robby’s past relationship as they travel together to get Scott settled in at the campground lodge that is to be Scott’s home.  We see that they loved each other and that the physical and emotional attraction to each other is still very present.  But other than that?  Nothing until a shocker that arrives at the very end of this first story that both explains so much while still leaving us with loads of questions to be answered.

In Firestorm, Laura Harner is setting the stage for the rest of her series and the first inklings of the interconnected characters and relationships from the other authors.  I love the tone and pace of the story as well as the depth of characterization and surprising elements she is building into the relationships and storylines.  What a great setting too.  The wildness of the habitat just outside the door is aspect of the story that brings challenges of its own to all the people present as well as acting almost like an additional character as well.  I got to the end and immediately wanted more.  So will you.  Consider this story, this series and in fact, the entire  Pulp Friction 2014 group highly recommended.

Cover art by Laura Harner.  Cover is great, perfect for the character and story within.

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 62 pages
Published January 14th 2014 by Hot Corner Press
ASINB00HV33EGG
edition languageEnglish
seriesFighting Fire
Buy links Amazon, ARe
One of the Pulp Friction 2014 Series

 From the Pulp Friction Group: The Pulp Friction 2014 Collection. Four authors. Four Series. Twenty books. One fiery finale. Spend a year with an eclectic group of strangers brought together through circumstances, as they are tested by life, and emerge as more than friends. The strongest bonds are forged by fire, cooled in air, smoothed by water, grounded in earth. Although each series can stand alone, we believe reading the books in the order they are released will increase your enjoyment.

Round One:
Firestorm (Fighting Fire: 1) by Laura Harner
Cold Snap (In From the Cold: 1) by Lee Brazil
Blown Away (Where the Wind Blows: 1) by Havan Fellows
Higher Ground (Earthquake: 1) by Tom Webb

Guest Authors, Contests and The Week Ahead in Reviews

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Giveaway Alert

While March is deciding whether to be winter or spring, new books are popping up like crocuses, just waiting to be discovered and read.  I have a wonderful group of authors and stories waiting for you this week along with a number of book giveaways and author contests for everyone to enter.

Book with Glasses grey scale

Monday will start off with the sequel to The Fall, a novel by Kate Sherwood.  Tuesday is a 2 book review day with of some of the Pulp Friction 2014 stories.  This year’s series is very different in tone and characters from last years, but just as absorbing.  A new author for me, E.E. Ottoman, is visiting on Wednesday to talk about E.E.’s release, Song of the Spring Moon Waning, a story I think everyone should read.  A copy of that book will be given away as part of E.E. Ottoman’s guest blog.  Thursday is the return of those marvelous group of authors whose stories comprise the Pulp Friction 2014 series.  Laura Harner, Lee Brazil, Havan Fellows and Tom Webb will be stopping by to talk about this year’s series and will give away a $25 gift card from All Romance eBooks!  Friday Heidi Belleau and Amelia C. Gormley continue on their book tour with To The Very Last Inch, The Professor’s Rule #5 (contest also).  And finally, ScatteredThoughts is finishing up the week with another new author for me, Liz Boreno. Liz Boreno will be here talking about her Angel series, Angel’s Hero (The Angel #1) and Angel’s Truth (The Angel#2), reviews of which will follow.  And there will be a book giveaway to go with her spotlight guest blog as well.Frog Reading

Whew!  What a packed and wonderful week in store!  All those great authors and contests too.  Don’t miss out, stay with me all week long.  Now off to whack some bushes just to feel all gardenery and such….

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  • Monday, March 10:           Riding Tall by Kate Sherwood
  • Tuesday, March 11:           Firestorm by Laura Harner, Cold Snap by Lee Brazil
  • Wed., March 12:                 E.E. Ottoman Author Spotlight and Contest
  • Thursday, March 13:        Pulp Friction 2014 Authors & Series Spotlight/Contest
  • Friday, March 14:              To The Very Last Inch Book Tour/Contest w/ Heidi Belleau & Amelia C. Gormley
  • Saturday, March 15:         Take Flight with Liz Boreno, Author Spotlight, Contest
  • Review: Angel’s Hero by Liz Boreno

STRW December 2013 Summary of Reviews and Best Dec. Covers

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Winter trees longs

December 2013 Book Review Summary and December Best Covers of the Month

December 2013 Review Summary

*Key:
S series
C contemporary
F-fantasy
SF-science fiction
PN-paranormal
SP-supernatural
H-historical
YA-young adult

5 Star Rating:

Christmas Kitsch by Amy Lane, C
Grime Doesn’t Pay: The Brothers Grime, Eddie by Z.A.Maxfield C,S
Oceans Apart by Laura Harner, C, S
Odd Man Out (4 series finale, #6)by Laura Harner, TA Webb, Lee Brazil and Havan Fellows C,S

4 to 4.75 Star Rating:

Blue River by Theo Fenraven (4 stars)PN
Christmas Serendipity by Liam Livings, (4.25)C,
Continental Divide written by Laura Harner, Lisa Worrall (4.25) C,S
Indelible Ink by Marie Lark, (4.5) C
Kick Start by Josh Lanyon C,S
Lost and Found by Z.A. Maxfield (4.5)C
Mindscape by Tal Valante (4.5) SF, S
Model Love by SJ Frost (4.25) C
Roughstock: Tag Team – Fais Do Do Season Two  by BA Tortuga(4.25)C,S

3 to 3.75 Star Rating:

Christmas Wish by Mychael Black, Shayne Carmichael SN, S
Housekeeping by Kim Fielding (3.75) C
Ride-Off (Polo #2) by Mickie B. Ashling (3.5)C
2 to 2.75 Star Rating:
N/A

1 to 1.75 Star Rating: N/A

Best Covers of December 2013:

Christmas Kitsch by Amy Lane, cover by LC Chase
Housekeeping by Kim Fielding, cover by Paul Richmond (his M/M American Gothic)
Lost and Found by ZA Maxfield, Cover by LC Chase
Mindscape by Tal Valante, cover by LC Chase

Housekeeping

LostAndFound_500x750

Mindscape_500x750

Christmas Kitsch cover

Scattered Thoughts Best Books of 2013

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ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords Presents:

best-books of 2013

Time for Scattered Thoughts to look back at all the wonderful books read and reviewed in 2013 and try to pick those stories that stood out the most among all the many stories I read.  As always it was a hard thing to do because there were so many this year that crowded at the top.  How to choose between Sarah Black’s The General and the Horse-Lord and her sequel, The General and the Elephant Clock of Al-Jazeri?  Or Ariel Tachna’s Outlast the Night and her Conquer the Flames?  It was only by the mm (seems reasonable) that the latter book for each won out.parabook

Some authors did end up with two books in my lists, whether it was because they were in two different categories or because they were in different series or just because they were that good.  I also ended up with more categories this year, including  Best Humor, Best Young Adult, Best New Vampire and Best New Werewolf.  The variety in genres just begged for subcategories so I created them.  Something really new this year was the interconnected series from the Pulp Friction group. Each series and main characters were intimately connected to each other and culminated in a four author four series finale story.  It was outstanding and earned all four a place on my list.

And then there were the marvelous novels like Harper Fox’ Brothers of the Wild North Seas whose review has slid into 2014 but is one of my top novels of any year.  Anyway, here are the books I chose in alphabetical order.  Which authors/stories were on your list this year?

Best Contemporary Novels of 2013:

  • Best Stand Alone Novels:

Illumination by Rowen Speedwell
The Sky is Dead by Sue Brown

Best Action/Suspense Fiction of 2013:

Collusion by Eden Winters (Diversion series)
Corruption by Eden Winters (Diversion series)
Pulp Friction Series of 2013 (4 interconnected series)

Shock & Awe by Abigail Roux
Touch & Geaux  by Abigail Roux (Cut & Run series)
Worlds Collide by R.J. Scott

Humorous Fiction of 2013:
Books with wings in the sky

Shy by John Inman
Hobbled by John Inman
Tell Me It’s Real by TJ Klune

Young Adult/YA Subject Oriented Fiction:

Christmas Kitsch by Amy Lane
Necromancy and You by Missouri Dalton
Vampirism and You by Missouri Dalton

Best Historical Fiction:

Lessons for Suspicious Minds by Charlie Cochrane
On The Lee Shore by Elin Gregory
Trick of Time by JL Merrow

Best Horror/Fantasy:skeleton-clip-art-15-315x600

Dance Only For Me (Dance With The Devil #6) by Megan Derr
Too Many Fairy Princes by Alex Beecroft
The Mingled Destinies of Crocodiles and Men by Eric Arvin

Best Science Fiction Novel/ Series of 2013:

Aria of the Eclipse by Vivien Dean
One Breath, One Bullet by S.A. McAuley
Dominant Predator by S.A. McAuley  (sequel to the one above)
Fragile Bond by Rhi Etzweiler
Scorpion (Memory of Scorpions #1) by Aleksandr Voinov (fantasy)

Best Supernatural/Paranormal Fiction of 2013:

Close Quarter by Anna Zabo
Into This River I Drown by TJ Klune
Re-entry Burn (Superpowered Love #5) by Katey Hawthorne
Undertow by Andrea Speed (Infected series)

Best New Vampire (a tie):

The Beast Without by Christian Baines
The Family: Liam by K.V. Taylor

Best New Werewolf:

Strength of the Wolf (The Tameness of the Wolf #2) by Kendall McKenna

Happy New Year, everyone!  Happy Reading To All and May 2014 Be Great!

New Year Book