Love Fantasy? Check Out the Blog Tour for The King’s Fear (The Brass Machine #2) by Isaac Grisham

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BLOG TOUR

Book Title: The King’s Fear (The Brass Machine #2)

Author: Isaac Grisham

Publisher: Cooper Blue Books, LLC

Cover Artist: Dissect Designs

Genre/s: Fantasy, LGBT Fiction

Trope/s: Good vs. Evil, Magic, Shifter, Bi the Way

Themes: Darkness and Light, Heartbreak of Betrayal, Revenge and Forgiveness

Heat Rating:  3 flames      

Length:  95,000 words/290 pages

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Everything will burn

Blurb

Myobu has waited all his life to find love, and just as he makes a connection, it’s taken from him in an instant. Reeling from the fatal climax of his love story with Prince Kitsune, the magical Yokai must take advantage of his second chance at life, reconciling his past and present while keeping the prince from going down a path of darkness. Together with Kitsune, Myobu is tasked with destroying an evil that threatens the brass machine—and their world.

Meanwhile, Prince Kitsune is lost in the depths of responsibility and the murkiness of grief. His role is at the head of an army, defending against the whims of his deranged father. King Oni’s aggression is mounting, and he will stop at nothing to maintain his power over Kitsunetsuki. 

Overcome with the guilt of killing the man he loved, Kitsune finds direction when he discovers the legendary Sword of Inari—but when the voices within the steel speak to him, they lead him deeper down a path of deceit. In a tale of good versus evil, life and death, Kitsune and Myobu must come together alongside their allies to face unspeakable horrors.

 

Buy Links

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Barnes and Noble

 

Excerpt

It was the perfect morning.

Treating himself to a good long stretch, Myobu worked his way up to sitting. With his back against the wooden headboard, he looked down at the pair with whom he had spent the night. Ryn and Nikki owned one of the oldest taverns in Hawte, having belonged to Ryn’s family for generations. Myobu had met them not long after arriving in the capital nearly three sun cycles ago.

Something else had happened as their friendship grew. Late one night after helping close up the tavern, they had spent a few hours drinking by the hearth. Ryn and Nikki spoke of their first encounter and subsequent marriage, purportedly a scandalous affair.

Having lived over a century without ever engaging in sexual activity, Myobu had drunkenly bombarded them with endless questions on the subject. The pair looked at one another, a glimmer of humor and desire in their eyes, and decided to answer his queries physically rather than verbally. Taking him by the hand, they led him upstairs to bed.

Upon closing the bedroom door, the first thing the couple did was peel off their clothing. Myobu had watched in awe as the differences in their skin were revealed. Ryn was a burly man, and there were few areas on his body not covered in hair. Nikki was dark-skinned and appeared free of any blemishes or extraneous hair.

The two had begun tugging at Myobu’s own clothing, which he sluggishly gave up. He wasn’t timid or particularly self-conscious, though he had wondered if the human form he had taken was correct in the details. He possessed all the parts of a man, but he lacked the massive tufts of hair Ryn displayed. He was almost as smooth as Nikki. Concerned they would figure out he wasn’t actually human, he had contemplated adding hair to his body before his shirt could be removed.

In the end, the two hadn’t given a second thought to his nearly hairless form. They stripped him naked, looked at him appreciatively, and began running their hands over his body. The dual sensations of Ryn’s rougher palms and Nikki’s smoother fingertips elicited a gasp from Myobu. Goosebumps broke out over his flesh. It heightened his tactile awareness, dulled his sense of time, and deeply aroused him. He tentatively put a hand on each of their bodies, awkward at first, but easily got into it once he realized his touch elicited the same types of responses from them.

 

About the Author

Isaac Grisham currently lives in a blue county of Illinois with his partner and doggos. By day, he works at a local college. The King’s Fear is his second completed novel and, by night, he is busy assembling the gears of the third and final piece of The Brass Machine.

 

Author Links

Blog/Website

Facebook: @AuthorIsaacGrisham

Twitter: @isaacgrisham 

Instagram: isaac.grisham 

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A Free Dreamer Review: Battle of Will by Sasha L. Miller

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

At a memorial service meant to honor the dead and mark the beginning of a truce between Skirfall and Morcia, Ackley spies a figure who does not belong—a mage interrogator whose presence will only cause harm should the Morcians realize who he is and all the people he has tortured. But the problem rapidly grows much worse than that when Ackley realizes his true purpose is assassination of the Morcian crown prince—an assassination Ackley prevents, but at great cost.

Banished from his own country, bound magically to the crown prince of his enemies, Ackley is certain of just one thing: whether he can figure out how to break the spell or not, his death is assured.

It’s no secret that I’m a big fantasy lover, and “Battle of Will” promised to be an interesting story. And the story was interesting, but it did also have some flaws that spoiled the experience at times. The first 60% or so were really intense, with a lot of action, mystery and intrigues. You never knew who you could trust and who was orchestrating the assassination of the royal family. I was honestly astonished that the whole mess got resolved so early on and felt like the rest of the story was a little drawn out. I did enjoy the whole “studying magic” process, but it was a bit much.

I think Beorn was a great ruler and a very likable character. So many fictional royals seem to not want to be rulers, but Beorn never struggled with his heritage and the responsibility it comes with. He was very level-headed and I think he’ll make a wise king. Ackley was also a great MC. He’s very intelligent and I loved how he wasn’t in the least bothered by Beorn being a crown prince. It didn’t change his attitude toward Beorn in the least.

As much as I liked the two MCs individually, I just didn’t feel the romance between them. For the most part of the book, there’s no hint of any romantic or sexual attraction whatsoever. Not
between the MCs, not between anybody else, neither present nor past. It almost felt like the author was halfway through this great Fantasy novel and then realized she forgot all about the
romance. The feelings just come out of nowhere and took way too long to surface, considering Beorn and Ackley were forced to be in very close proximity 24/7 for months. There aren’t even
any past lovers or the most fleeting attraction to anybody to indicate the sexual preference of our MCs. Honestly, the book would have been better without the romance. It was kind of
unnecessary.

The other big complaint I had was the lack of depth. We never learn why Morcia and Skirfall have been at war for years now. We really only learned the very basics of the our MCs’ pasts. I
still don’t know how Beorn came to be the last of his line. What happened to his mother? And how did Ackley become the bodyguard of a Skirfallan prince? And what exactly led to him losing
that job again? The world building lacked depth as well. We get a lot of magical theory with really intricate spell diagrams, but I’m still unclear on how you actually go from a complex to
drawing to making magic.

Just like the romance, the epilogue felt like an afterthought. A bit like the author forgot to incorporate a sex scene, so she added an epilogue for some smut. Overall, “Battle of Will” is good, but not great. It’s a solid high fantasy novel with a rather flimsy and unnecessary romance.

The cover by maderr is a little simplistic but I do like it, especially the old-fashioned font.

Sales Links:  Less Than Three Press | Amazon

Book details:

Kindle Edition, 427 pages
Published December 30th 2013 by Less Than Three Press, LLC (first published

Note: This story is part of LT3’s Serial Fiction line

A MelanieM PreRelease Review: Magic Runs Deep by Alex Whitehall

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

 

For the last five years, Veier has been chained to a king’s throne in his bear form. When a neighboring kingdom overthrows the crown, Veier’s imprisonment ends, but true freedom is not so easily earned. With blood on his hands, he needs someone with patience, strength, and trust to help him become the person he was before and prove to the invaders that he isn’t the monstrous king’s loyal pet.

Elrid, the invading king’s brother and a powerful mage, is everything Veier despises. He’s also the only thing between Veier and execution, because he thinks he can help Veier change from an aggressive bear shifter into a reasonable man. While the pair have a rough start, with long talks and mutual leaps of faith, they begin to care for each other.

However, the closer Veier gets to his freedom, the closer he is to losing Elrid. He must find balance in his heart and his life if he wishes to truly claim the freedom he’s been given—and the man he loves.

I just loved everything about Magic Runs Deep by Alex Whitehall.  Here is a fantasy novel where the author managed to combine  some very dark and realistic elements like PTSD, the horror of torture , the  effects of long term prisoner captivity under the worse conditions, with that prisoner’s recovery and love.    That the prisoner is an Ursinae or bear shifter, the one to save and help him recover a mage and brother to a king, and that some of the methods used include magic?  In the hands of author Alex Whitehall, that seems normal.  Whitehall seamlessly blends modern methods for dealing with PTSD and the magical to come up with a unique combination of spells and universe for this story that entranced me.

The Ursinae had their own magic as do the Kingdoms themselves.  I could cheerfully dwell in this land for many books, hoping to learn more not just about Veier’s shifter history but all the neighboring Kingdoms across the lands.  If they are half as fascinating as the ones that Whitehall created for the ones we got to know here, I’m all in for as many stories as the author wants to tell.

These characters were amazing!  They were so well rounded and pulled so many emotions from me in their journey to  helping Veier recover from his heinous imprisonment and the scars he now carries inside and out.  As it should be, his recovery is painful, slow, full of anger and fear.  And the reader is on this agonizing path with Veier every step of the way. So is Elrid, the mage who sees the tragedy in Veier’s fate if he can’t be helped and the man fighting to regain who he was.  I was so absorbed in Veier’s tale I totally forgot what time it was and read into the early hours.

There are other equally important storylines flowing here.  Unrest in a kingdom slow to accept new rulers, people hesitant or afraid of the shifter among them, a man eager to go home again and afraid of what he would find…all these narrative threads are carried through, their importance to the overall plot arc handled beautifully, never impeding or overtaking the main plotlines but adding interest to them,  like spice does to a great meal.

But the heart and center here is Veier and Elrid and what a story that is.  It’s heartwarming, sometimes heartstopping, and always rewarding.   This is one for my “happy shelf”, when I need a book to pull out to put a smile on my face and a lightness in my heart.    How I loved this couple.  I think you will too.  I highly recommend Magic Runs Deep by Alex Whitehall.

Cover art:  Shayne Leighton.  I like the cover, has some very nice elements on it, including the character of Veier.

Sales Links: Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

book, 183 pages
Expected publication: April 9th 2018 by Riptide Publishing
Original TitleMagic Runs Deep
ISBN 1626497478 (ISBN13: 9781626497474)
Edition LanguageEnglish

New Release Book Blitz for Ibuki by Kathryn Sommerlot (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Ibuki

Author: Kathryn Sommerlot

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: January 29, 2018

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 26000

Genre: Fantasy, LGBT, lesbian, fantasy, cleric/priestess, magic users, abduction, royalty

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Synopsis

Ibuki: the gift of healing through breath. Chiasa has possessed the ability since childhood and shares it with her father as they care for their Inuru community. Chiasa has never doubted the stability of her simple life. That is, until Namika, a water-gifted priestess, shows up outside the Ibuki shrine gates with information promising Chiasa’s doom.

With Namika’s help, Chiasa is determined to find the secrets behind the ritual that will claim her life, but her growing feelings toward the other woman reach beyond her control, adding to the confusion. Time is rapidly running out, and Chiasa can’t seem to sort out the lies woven through the magic of Inuru and its emperor.

Caught in a tangled web of immortality, betrayal, and desire, Chiasa must find the right people to trust if she hopes to stop the ritual—or she will pay the consequences.

Excerpt

Ibuki
Kathryn Sommerlot © 2018
All Rights Reserved

When Chiasa first saw the young woman standing outside the shrine, her throat seized in fear around a single thought: the emperor is dead. A moment later, she realized the woman appeared far more nervous than grief-stricken, and she relaxed, only to wonder why a seseragi priestess would be on her doorstep before the sun had fully risen.

The woman was unmistakably one of the water-chosen. Her hands were fidgeting and pressing tiny creases into the telltale blue of her silk robe, its pale folds hanging uneven above her shell-lined sandals, and above the short collar, a silver clip in the shape of an ocean wave held her hair in two overlapping plaits. She glanced down either side of the empty road, shoulders bowed, before starting up the stairs.

Chiasa hung back to observe.

It took the woman a minute or so to climb the steps that led to the small fountain, and with the shrine deserted, her footsteps echoed through the grounds. Her hair seemed to have been hastily done as an afterthought—long strands had come free and hung down her back like splatters of black ink across parchment.

She did manage a jerky half bow when she reached the slotted board holding the wooden ladle, though most of the water she then tried to pour over her hands ended up splashing onto the front of the blue silk, a testament to the shaking in her arms. Chiasa let her continue without interruption until she reached the top of the stairs and clapped her hands together before the silver bell. Any farther, and the seseragi priestess would make her way inside the sanctuary, to where the ibuki power-stone was held, and the thought was unsettling enough to push Chiasa forward.

“If I can help you with something,” Chiasa began, slipping out from her hiding spot between the side of the sanctuary and the hall of worship where she spent many hours praying in solitude.

The young woman started, nearly tripping on the hem of her robe. One hand went to her mouth as she stared far longer than was comfortable, and then she bowed again, the force of the action throwing the loose tendrils of hair over her head.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “I didn’t send word, and…well, I know it’s strange for me to be here, but I must speak with an ibuki priest, please.”

Chiasa took a step back, one corner of the hall’s intersecting wall panels jabbing between her shoulders.

“My father is the head priest, but he’s not here. He’s out with the herbalist to tend the sick. If you wish, I can leave him a message for when he returns—”

“It’s urgent,” the other woman whispered. “Please.”

At a loss, Chiasa looked around the shrine grounds she knew by heart. There was no one else to summon. Her father wouldn’t be back until much later, perhaps even after midnight, and old Isao was seldom of much use anymore, relegated to menial groundskeeping tasks and selling talismans. As the morning breeze broke through the tree line and nipped at the exposed skin of her cheek, she felt acutely alone.

Chiasa tried to imagine what her father might do were he present as the young woman, still bent in an awkward bow, began to shake with the exertion of it. Chiasa, afraid she would topple over entirely, sprang forward and dropped the broom she was holding, the tool clattering noisily across the pathway.

“He’s not here,” Chiasa repeated, though she wanted to help the woman when she was in such a state. “But please don’t panic, I will not send you away. If you’d like, I could make you some tea?”

“Yes,” the woman said. Her hands went to her face, cupping cheeks that were tinged with an uneven smattering of powder. As Chiasa watched, her gaze seemed to get lost in nothing, until she finally blinked and focused once again, settling on Chiasa’s face. Again, there was something sparking in her eyes that Chiasa couldn’t entirely read. The woman lowered her hands and nodded. “Yes, I would appreciate it. I’m sorry to intrude.”

Chiasa thought briefly of disagreeing, but it felt best to avoid lying. Instead, she led the seseragi priestess into the hall of worship and through to the small back room where they kept a low, small table and supplies unrelated to the shrine itself. There was a heavy iron kettle, which was so old that one side of it was slightly lower than the other, making the whole thing lopsided. Chiasa placed it onto the small fire in the center of the room with care and waved the smoke up into the open flume built into the roof’s small, soot-blackened bricks. Her strange guest knelt at the table, smoothing her silks beneath her knees.

“I don’t know when my father will return,” Chiasa apologized as she waited for the water to bubble. The other woman deflated somewhat, her shoulders curving in and over on themselves as she ran a finger over the grain of the table.

“Is there no one else?” she asked. Then, a half second too late, her eyes snapped up, wide and frightened. “I didn’t mean… I meant no offense. I’m sure you are quite capable at the breath—”

Chiasa waved her apology away. “I’m not offended. But I am afraid there is no one else. It’s only my father, myself, and old Isao.”

“Then, your father is part of the emperor’s circle?” the woman asked. The expression on her features changed from nervous to suspicious, and Chiasa couldn’t follow the reasoning behind it. Her guest tapped her fingers against the tabletop as she pursed her lips together, and her gaze shifted away from Chiasa and the teakettle. “Perhaps it was unwise to come here. I thought there were more in the ibuki shrine.”

The kettle whistled its completion, and as she poured the fragrant hibiscus blend, Chiasa frowned, puzzled by the transformation in both the conversation and the woman’s demeanor.

“My father is not advising the emperor today,” she said, again, in case it had been missed, as she handed the other woman the small teacup of hollowed bone. Her guest held the cup between her fingers, but didn’t sip from it. Her gaze seemed lost again, her eyes focused on something far beyond the table and the crackling fire pit, in a place Chiasa could neither see nor touch.

After quite some time, the woman raised her head once more. “My name is Namika. I suppose with your father too close to the source I should not have asked for him at all. You are the youngest within the shrine?”

“Yes,” Chiasa answered, though she regretted doing so in the next heartbeat when the oddness of the question fully registered.

Namika’s brow furrowed as her fingers knit together around the bone cup. “Then I must tell you of my discovery.”

“Discovery?” Chiasa repeated.

“I’m afraid it’s not good news,” Namika said and grimaced. “I was tasked with sorting through our cellar, where many of the old texts and records are kept. The majority of them are simply logs of visitors to the shrine and the actions our priests performed at the emperor’s command. But within the piles, I discovered what seemed to be a set of entries detailing the truth behind the emperor’s longevity.”

“The gods have seen fit to bless him with immortality,” Chiasa said, but she felt suddenly very cold, crossing her arms over her chest and running her hands over her sleeves. The small room seemed to constrict even further around them, squeezing the air from Chiasa’s lungs until she was gasping for it. They should not even be discussing the emperor. They were far too young and unimportant to think they had more wisdom than a man who had been ruling Inuru for nearly three hundred years, and despite their solitude within the shrine, Chiasa got the distinct feeling someone, somewhere, could hear them. The sensation sent toe-curling shivers down her back.

“No,” Namika said. She leaned forward, like she, too, was reacting to the sudden chill permeating the air. “It’s unnatural, his lifespan— He is stealing it, all of it; he is stealing his life.”

“That’s impossible,” Chiasa snapped. “No magic could grant a mortal so much time.”

Namika shook her head and set the cup of tea down, still just as full as when Chiasa had handed it to her. “He is stealing it through blood. He’s drinking blood to absorb the life within it and add it to his own.”

Chiasa stood so suddenly that the table shook, splashing tea across the surface. The scent of steeped flowers and herbs grew even stronger.

“You’re lying,” she said through clenched teeth, hands curled into fists at her side. The flash of indignation that flared up beneath her skin came from a source she couldn’t identify, but she knew from years of practiced obedience that it was necessary. “My father is on the emperor’s circle, and he would never allow such a thing, even if it were possible.”

“But that is why I had to come!” Namika exclaimed. “It’s written in the documents, by the seseragi high priest himself. I swear to you I did not come here with a lie!”

Chiasa wove her hands through her hair, tugging bits of it free from the tortoiseshell clasp holding the twist snug at the nape of her neck. Her father couldn’t possibly be implicated in such a monstrosity—and beyond that, the insult to the emperor weighed like a stone within her gut. The emperor protected them all. The emperor loved them all.

“It’s impossible,” Chiasa said, letting her hands fall back down to her sides. “What blood could possibly grant such—”

“Those with the breath!” Namika cried out and then sat back on her heels, cheeks flushed and pink. As Chiasa stared at her across the table, the unwanted and uninvited woman with the poison-tipped tongue of lies inhaled deeply and then pushed the air back out, slowly, through red lips.

“He is drinking your order,” she said. Her voice was far quieter, filled with something that sounded an awful lot like sympathy. “He is drinking the blood of ibuki priests.”

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

Kathryn Sommerlot is a coffee addict and craft beer enthusiast with a detailed zombie apocalypse plan. Originally from the cornfields of the American Midwest, she got her master’s degree and moved across the ocean to become a high school teacher in Japan. When she isn’t wrangling teenage brains into critical thinking, she spends her time writing, crocheting, and hiking with her husband. She enjoys LGBTQ fiction, but she is particularly interested in genre fiction that just happens to have LGBTQ protagonists. You can find Kathryn on her Website.

 

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A MelanieM Review: Knightsgift by J. Hepburn

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5
Three knights, each bearing the Knightsgift that gives them power and life, ride to the aid of a small village where people are disappearing in the forest. One knight seeks the aid of a herbalist, a sharp-witted, strong-willed woman, who can tell him what the Sheriff will not…
Knightsgift is the first story I’ve read by J. Hepburn but based on the characters, themes, and worldbuilding I found within this tale, it certainly won’t be the last.  In fact, I’m hope that the author is considering making this the first in a series about the Knights here, the Healer, and the backstory into the training they all undergo when the Knightsgift comes to each of them.
The Knights here are already battle-hardened experienced Knights, years away from the time the Gift came to them.  These three Knights seem to travel together often on missions for the King, so their friendship and ease with each other speaks of a deep kinship.
The Knights are Heskan, Tahis and Donaar, and Tahis is the Knight we get to know the most intimately of the three.  Donaar, the fierce, indomitable female knight is second leaving Heskan the one with the least storytime.  Their mission is to solve who or what is behind the disappearances/murders of villagers in Sweetwater.
However, things are rarely simple and the state of Sweetwater itself is murky and needs further investigation.
I loved these Knights, the Herbalist Tala, and most of the “lowly” villagers of Sweetwater.  Hepburn came up with great characters, lively, believable, some endowed with a magic that flows from them, and an entire village of people depending on each other to get by because they knew help was not coming from the “upper echelons” in town and rules  set down to see to their safety.  The author was able to show the emotional cost and close knit relationships of all the people of the village to each other in a short story.  I believed in them all.
There’s several elements here, important ones I hesitate to mention.  One is about the nature of Tahis and how that Knight perceives themselves.  I just love how this is done, it feels natural, and the potential for a relationship with Tala is just one more reason I would love to see this story become the first in a series.  The second is the Knightsgift itself.  There are some astonishing revelations that the author unfolds later in the story that cry out for more backhistory and more exposition.    Again, more stories please.
Finally, there’s the reason behind the missing villagers….I needed a little more, not much because some of that was outstanding, grant you.  But why there?  This story came so close to a 5 star tale for me….
Knightsgift by J. Hepburn is a story that still intrigues me.  My mind is still jumping to all these places the author has led it to with their incredible imagination, great characters and wonderful plot.  If you’re looking for heat and hot sex, this is not the book for you.  But if you’re looking for a wonderful fantasy with LGBTQIA characters, a possible romance in the future, and, hopefully more to come?  This is the story for you.
Cover art:  Kirby Crow.  Cover is simple and elegant.  I liked it.
Sales Links:  Less Than Three Press  | Amazon
Book Details:
ebook
Published January 3rd 2018 by Less Than Three Press
ISBN139781684311682
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Free Dreamer Review: Olympia Knife by Alysia Constantine

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Born into a family of flying trapeze artists, Olympia Knife has one small problem: When her emotions rise, she becomes invisible. Everyone in the traveling circus has learned to live with this quirk; they banded together to raise Olympia in a loving environment when her parents vanished midair during their act, never to return. But the same fate befalls Arnold, the world’s shortest man, followed by one act after another, until the show is a crumbling mess of tattered tents and terrified troupers. Into this chaos walks Diamond the Danger Eater. Olympia and Diamond forge a friendship, then fall in love, and, together, resolve to stand the test of time, even as the world around them falls apart.

The first word that comes to my mind when I think about Olympia Knife is strange. Closely followed by sad. And kind of creepy. I’ve never read anything like this and I was a bit unsure whether I liked it or not. But it’s so unusual and memorable, I just had to give it the full five stars.

First things first: This is classified as literary/genre fiction and as such doesn’t have much of a love story and definitely not your run-of-the-mill HEA. The ending is very open and leaves many questions unanswered. I’m not always a fan of open ends, but in this case it fit the tone of the whole book perfectly.

I love circus settings, especially historical ones. They give you so many possibilities. It can be utterly magical and charming or it can be utterly terrifying and creepy. Olympia Knife was definitely more creepy than charming, though it did have a bit of a magical air.

People keep disappearing in the middle of their acts, Olympia keeps turning invisible and there are some other otherworldly things going on, so I guess this would qualify as Fantasy. The circus acts, especially those in the sideshow, are all fakes and don’t have any magical abilities. The correct genre correct is probably magic realism, combining reality with some fantastic elements. It’s an unusual genre and I really enjoyed it.

There isn’t all that much action but I didn’t mind. This was a very slow book and it was all about the atmosphere of the book. I was completely immersed into the world and it sometimes took a while for me to resurface.

At times, this book does get pretty brutal and very intense. It was a hard read and it really took a lot out of me. “Olympia Knife” is such a gritty, intense and heartbreaking read. It’s one of the most extraordinary books I’ve ever read.

If you’re looking for an easy, magical romance, this is definitely not the book for you. I think this is a case of love it or hate it. And I loved it. I’ll have to keep an eye out for future releases by this author. If you’re easily triggered, you might want to check out the content warnings on the publisher’s page.

The cover is utterly gorgeous. It’s the kind of cover that I’d love to have in my physical bookshelf, just to show it off.

Sales Links:  Interlude Press | Amazon

Book details: ebook, 212 pages

Published November 2nd 2017 by Interlude Press

Jump Into the Fantasy World of Love and Magic by RE Andeen (Excerpt and Giveaway)

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Title:  Love and Magic

Author: RE Andeen

Publisher:  Torquere Press

Cover Artist: Kris Norris

Release Date:  7-27-2016

Heat Level: 2

Pairing: F/F

Length:: 10,000 words

Genre: Lesbian Romance, Multi-Cultural, Fantasy

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Love and Magic Cover

Synopsis

Kiv never expected to see a battle, let alone fight in one. She came to the island kingdom of Escot to use her magic to help people, not to kill them, but a petty, pointless civil war has made her job as Court Wizard difficult and then impossible. When the hostilities come to a head, Kiv finds herself on the battlefield, supporting one army against another.

On the other side, there is Tallas, a wizard more dangerous than three thousand swords and a woman more intriguing that than any Kiv has ever met. The battle will end in blood and death, as battles do, but for Tallas and Kiv, the end is only the beginning.

.

Excerpt

Kiv woke with a start, wondering if she was dead. She cast about with her senses, both physical and magical, and decided she was alive after all. She was lying in a bed of golden wood on soft white cotton sheets under a green wool blanket. Overhead, she saw the silky blue canopy of a large tent, with the curtains on all four sides tied back to let in the morning sun, set in an open field without another structure in sight. The rain had finally stopped, though the sky was still gray.

She climbed out of bed, noticing that she was in nothing but her underthings, and looked for something to wear. Her clothes – long wool skirt, wide leather belt, white cotton blouse, and heavy wool cloak – were folded neatly on a table beside the bed, all the grime and gore of battle washed away, with her purple silk Court Wizard hood and her gnarled manzanita wand sitting next to the pile. She dressed and went looking for the kind soul who had taken care of her. Tallas – of course it was Tallas – was just outside the tent, her back to Kiv, cooking a skillet of something over a low fire that smelled amazing.

“Oh, good. You’re awake,” Tallas said, without turning around. “I trust you’re feeling alright. I checked you over myself last night, and I could find no injury or ailment beside exhaustion.”

Kiv walked over and sat on a rock next to the fire. “I’m fine,” she said. “I suppose I should thank you…”

“It was nothing,” Tallas said. “You’re a Wizard of the Guild, and we take care of our own.”

“I know,” Kiv replied, “but I’ve never had anything like yesterday happen to me before.”

“Haven’t you?” Tallas asked, looking up from the fire, and Kiv suddenly felt that those jet black eyes were boring a hole right through her. “I suppose you haven’t…”

Purchase

Torquere Press

Love and Magic Square
Meet the Author

RE Andeen is a writer, software developer, Klingonist, and general nerd. After a lifetime of immersion in science and technology, he discovered writing, quite by accident, in 2014. He lives in downtown Seattle.

Facebook: Eric Andeen (https://www.facebook.com/eric.andeen)
Facebook Author Page: RE Andeen (https://www.facebook.com/reandeen/)
Twitter: @REAndeen
Other: Personal webpage/blog (http://reandeen.com/)
Amazon: Author page (http://amazon.com/author/reandeen)

Giveaway

Rafflecopter Prize: One winner will be selected to win an eBook copy of Love and Magic.

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The Importance of World Building in Fantasy/Sci Fy Fiction and This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Fantasy Landscape

The Importance of World Building in Fantasy/Sci Fy Fiction

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been talking about the little overlooked trope of historical stories in LBGTQIA fiction and I’m going to get back to that next week, way back in authors and eras this time.  But for now, lets look forward.

Whereas those authors face entirely different obstacles when tackling their stories, primarily making their designated time period is accurate down to the details while still able to make their stories and characters come alive for their readers, the author that decides to write fantasy or science fiction has an entire different issue ahead of them.  They have to imagine new worlds, build them up, complete with cultures,  languages, religions, sexes or not, biologies, mythologies, or use old world gods and myths and sciences, or any combination thereof.  And make it believable.  Yes, a daunting task.

And if you notice and read our reviews here its one of the first  things we bring up in our reviews.  The line in the review usually starts something like this “the author’s ability to world build….” and then goes on for better or for worse.  And it occurs right at the beginning of the review, again in the middle and sometimes again at the end.  Why?  Because its so important.  If you don’t get this right, if you make us question parts of your universe, if its illogical, got huge holes in its fabric that makes us stop reading and start thinking about it and not your characters, then, you’ve lost us, your readers.

What elements do you find important in world building?  What do you look for in your fantasy and science fiction in order for you to feel like your world in that novel is complete?  Write and fill us in.  I’m curious.  Some seem to think its tons of pages.  Hmmm. No.

Its not volume that speaks either.  I have read books of well over hundreds of pages that made virtually no sense where the author threw in a kitchen sink worth of narrative for a space opera that was just sort of crazy…nothing made sense but it was huge in pages.   And yet a small sharp story as was noted in A VVivacious Review: Fire Up My Heart by Asta Idonea put in all out there for the reader to see in a small, terrific package.

So I’m thinking its time to put together a list of recommended fantasy and science fiction authors and stories.  So gather together your recs and start sending them in.  I hope there are plenty I and our reviewers haven’t read yet, we are always looking for more, you know how we love our fantasy and science fiction here.  Come on, send us names and books…but make sure their world building is up to the challenge…

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 This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, May 29:

  • The Importance of World Building in Fantasy/Sci Fy Fiction
  • This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Monday, May 30:

  • Riptide Publishing’s No Remedy blog tour with Christine d’Abo (giveaway)
  • A VVivacious Review: Dark Side by Shannon West
  • A Lila Review:  Guardian by Jordan Taylor
  • A BJ Review: Til Death Do Us Part by Addison Albright

Tuesday, May 31:

  • A Lila Review: First and First by Santino Hassall
  • A Free Dreamer Review: Song of Song by L.J. LaBarthe
  • An Alisa Audiobook Review: In the Middle of Somewhere by Roan Parrish
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review:  A Helping Hand by Jay Northcote

Wednesday, June 1:

  • Cover Reveal Blitz: A Second Harvest by Eli Easton (cover reveal)
  • Dragon Men Series by Amber Kell – Series Recap Tour and Giveaway
  • A Stella Review: Stained by Chris T Kat
  • A Paul B Review: Seducing His Reluctant Vampire by Charlie Richards
  • An Alisa Review: The Pirate’s Cove by Michelle King

Thursday, June 2:

  • New Book Blitz – Love Off the Radar Collection by A.J. Llewellyn and D.J. Manly
  • The Scorpion’s Empress Release Day Blast and Giveaway
  • A Lila Audiobook Review:  Fish Stick Fridays by Rhys Ford, Narrator Spencer Goss
  • A Paul B Review: Wooing the Lighthouse Keeper by Charlie Richards
  • A Free Dreamer Review:  Lost Souls by Barbara Sheridan

Friday, June 3:

  • Book Blitz and Giveaway for Becoming Rory by Ashavan Doyon
  • A Paul B Review:  Alexi’s Mouse by A C Katt
  • A Lila Review:  Chevalier by Mary Calmes
  • An Alisa Review: Reckless by Caitlin Ricci

Saturday, June 4:

  • A MelanieM Review:  Safe In His Heart by Renae Kaye
  • A BJ Audiobook Review: Covet Thy Neighbor by LA Witt

 

 

A BJ Review: Blackfrost (Wytch Kings #2) by Jaye McKenna

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Rating:  5 stars out of 5        ★★★★★

Blackfrost_600x900Son of a simple blacksmith, Apprentice Wytch Kian has always known that once his apprenticeship is over, he’ll be sent far from home to serve the Wytch Council. Before his training is even complete, Wytch Master Taretha orders him to Blackfrost, an isolated country estate, where he is to serve as personal healer to Prince Ambris of Miraen.

Nothing in Kian’s experience has prepared him for what he finds at Blackfrost, and every day brings new questions. Like why is Prince Ambris being kept prisoner at Blackfrost? Where does Wytch Master Taretha take him every fortnight? And why does the prince return from these excursions suffering from horrific injuries that Kian is expected to heal?

Kian quickly learns that seeking answers to these questions could cost him his life. Worse, he soon finds himself struggling with his growing feelings for Ambris, putting him at odds with both Wytch Master Taretha and the sadistic guard captain, Malik. Can Kian unravel the mystery in time to save Ambris? Or will the prince finally succumb to madness and destroy Blackfrost and everyone in it?

If you read my review of book one in this series, Burn the Sky, you saw me proclaim it as my favorite dragon shifter story. Well guys, we have an upset. As of last night when I finished the ARC of Blackfrost, I must say that as much as I adored Garrick and Ilya’s story and didn’t think it possible for the series to get better. It did. New favorite!

I love broken boys, and this author excels at providing perfect, realistic HEA endings for the tortured and broken men she makes me adore. Well, I’m here to say that Prince Ambris gives a whole new meaning to the word broken. Don’t believe me? Read the first chapter and see.

The story hooked me in practically from the first page, which is actually pretty rare for me. In thinking of a word to describe the beginning, what came to mind is stunning because both of the dictionary meanings do apply (1. causing astonishment, bewilderment & 2. of striking beauty or excellence).  If you’re easily squeaked out, maybe a bit of caution as it’s very vividly written, but don’t let it stop you please, as I can almost guarantee it will suck you in.

The world building in this series rivals any I’ve seen. All of the author’s series take place in the same universe but often in a different timeframe, which makes for a world that’s well-developed, intricate and complex. Epic really. For a complete understanding of it, check out the authors Aion Timeline page here: http://www.jayemckenna.com/p/timeline.html

We get to visit with characters from book one who I loved, the newly crowned Wytch King Garrick and his beloved Wytch Master Ilya. Also Garrick’s younger brother Jaire whose powers have grown since the last book. And of course, sweet and witty Kian.

Kian is such a nice guy. In Burn the Sky, he was Prince Garrick’s friend and sometime bedmate. I love that the two remained friends despite well, everything from book one. That there was no jealousy when Garrick found his love in Ilya, that their friendship was firm and solid throughout. I loved that Kian is bisexual, and that he’s such an easy going, laid back, and rather simple guy. Not easy to anger or volatile but just a downright affable guy. He’s the guy I’d like to have for a pal. I could just squeeze him.

As much as I like Kian, it’s Ambris who rocked this story for me. And it’s hard to explain why without spoilers, which is frustrating but I really don’t want to give anything away! So I’ll just say that I enjoyed seeing how having someone care for him and for whom he could care allowed him to find the strength to transform from the tortured, beaten down, nearly hopeless man he was at the beginning into the strong and confident man of royal blood that was his destiny. That, and the fact that the physical description of Ambris is so unique that although the cover rocks just as it is and I really wouldn’t change it, there is a small part of me disappointed that it didn’t have a representation of Ambris in all his awesomeness.

Amidst the nicely paced action and angst, the main characters manage some steamy sexy times, including a lovely massage scene that I found particularly titillating. There’s also a delightful side relationship between two of the minor characters that I added another level of enjoyment to the story.

The cover by Chinchbug is not only eye-catching, but is like a freeze frame of action that vividly captures a key scene in the story in all of its power and poignancy right down to the screaming angst on the dragon’s face.

Sales Links: ARe | Amazon  | Smashwords


Book Details:  

ebook
Published May 1st 2016 by Mythe Weaver Press
Edition LanguageEnglish

Wytch King Series with links to BJ’s reviews:

Burn the Sky
Blackfrost

Its Release Day for Blackfrost (Wytch Kings, Book 2) by Jaye McKenna (excerpt and giveaway)

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Blackfrost_600x900

Blackfrost (Wytch Kings, Book 2) by Jaye McKenna

Cover Artist: Chinchbug

Release Day: May 3, 2016

 Purchase It Here: ARe | Amazon  | Smashwords

Blurb

Son of a simple blacksmith, Apprentice Wytch Kian has always known that once his apprenticeship is over, he’ll be sent far from home to serve the Wytch Council. Before his training is even complete, Wytch Master Taretha orders him to Blackfrost, an isolated country estate, where he is to serve as personal healer to Prince Ambris of Miraen.

Nothing in Kian’s experience has prepared him for what he finds at Blackfrost, and every day brings new questions. Like why is Prince Ambris being kept prisoner at Blackfrost? Where does Wytch Master Taretha take him every fortnight? And why does the prince return from these excursions suffering from horrific injuries that Kian is expected to heal?

Kian quickly learns that seeking answers to these questions could cost him his life. Worse, he soon finds himself struggling with his growing feelings for Ambris, putting him at odds with both Wytch Master Taretha and the sadistic guard captain, Malik. Can Kian unravel the mystery in time to save Ambris? Or will the prince finally succumb to madness and destroy Blackfrost and everyone in it?

Sequel to Burn the Sky..

Excerpt

“Ambris! Ambris, wake up, it’s just a dream.”

Ambris latched on to that voice and clung to it, following it out of the nightmare. He found himself in his own bed, shaking and sweaty, the sheets tangled about him.

Kian stood beside the bed, dressed only in a pair of half-laced breeches. His hair was tousled and hung loose below his shoulders, and his dark eyes looked huge and sleepy in the light of the lamp he carried.

“Sorry,” Ambris muttered, unable to take his eyes off of Kian’s bare chest and arms. Those arms were as big around as Ambris’s thighs, and Kian’s chest was broad and sprinkled with dark hair. Ambris couldn’t stop himself from letting his eyes trace the trail of hair down to the unlaced top of the breeches.

“Are you all right?” Kian asked.

Ambris lifted his gaze in time to see the healer run a hand through his hair. “I’m fine,” he murmured, and struggled to sit up. Pain lanced through his upper back, and a curse fell from his lips before he could stop it.

“What is it?” Kian asked quickly. “What’s wrong?”

“My back… I must have wrenched it while I was thrashing about.”

Kian set the lamp on the nightstand. “Turn over and lie on your belly.”

Ambris started to turn, but stopped suddenly, wincing as another hot shard of pain pierced his back.

“Carefully,” Kian amended.

Moving slowly, he managed to complete the maneuver with only minimal discomfort. “Are you going to heal me?”

“I doubt that will be necessary. It’s probably just a cramp. I’ll rub your back for you, though. It will help loosen the muscle and ease the cramp. We’ll see if I can get you relaxed enough that you fall back to sleep.”

The mattress dipped on either side of him as Kian straddled his hips. Ambris liked the feel of the warm weight of him and wished the covers weren’t between them.

“Tell me where it hurts.” Warm hands began probing his back, pressing gently here and there.

“Ah!” Ambris gasped as Kian’s thumb found a tight knot in his upper back. “That’s it, right there.”

“Sorry. Put your head down and try to relax.”

Ambris tried to do as he was told, but the moment Kian’s hands slid beneath his nightshirt and made contact with his bare skin, there was no chance of relaxing. Every nerve in his body came alive, and he squirmed as his shaft hardened uncomfortably beneath him.

Kian pushed Ambris’s nightshirt out of his way and ran those big, warm hands over his back. Ambris shivered in delight at his touch. How would it feel to have those hands wandering elsewhere? Down his sides… across his chest… stroking his buttocks, perhaps even…

He groaned as Kian pressed hard, kneading the tight muscles to help them relax.

“What did you dream?” Kian asked quietly. “Do you remember?”

“No,” Ambris lied. “I just remember being frightened.” Kian would learn about what a miserable failure he was soon enough, and then, Ambris imagined, he would stay as far away as he could, like everyone else did. In the two weeks since he’d arrived, Kian’s presence had brightened the long, lonely days, and Ambris wanted to put off his inevitable withdrawal for as long as possible.

He’d thought Kian would have heard all about him from the staff by now, but Kian was as kind and friendly as he had been those first few days. Ambris did occasionally catch him staring, a puzzled expression drawing his dark brows together, but after that first day, Kian hadn’t asked any more difficult questions, and for that, Ambris was thankful.

It wouldn’t last, of course, but until Kian learned the truth, Ambris could pretend they were friends. It had been a very long time since he’d had anyone he could call a friend.

Kian’s hands moved lower, massaging his lower back, and Ambris couldn’t help but squirm. More aroused than he’d ever been, he kept his burning face buried in the pillow so Kian wouldn’t see. He doubted Kian had any interest in men, and even if he did, a man like Kian could have anyone he wanted; he would never look twice at a pale, scrawny thing like Ambris. He closed his eyes and flexed his hips the tiniest bit, pressing his throbbing shaft into the mattress.

His thoughts flew back ten years, to those first fumbling kisses and touches he’d shared with Wes Atherton. It had been during the Harvest Ball at the Fall Council the year before his Wytch power had destroyed his life. They’d slipped away from the crowds and into a dark hallway, and Wes had knelt before him, undone his breeches, and licked and kissed him until Ambris was nearly screaming with pleasure…

His need was so great, it was like a hollow, burning ache that swallowed everything else. He wanted Kian’s hands on him, wanted Kian’s mouth on him, too. Wanted Kian to touch him and kiss him and…

Ambris came with a whimper that he quickly choked off. His cheeks felt like they were on fire, and he buried his face deeper into the pillow, mortified. What must Kian think of him?

But Kian didn’t seem to have noticed. The gentle rhythm of the massage never faltered as Ambris burned with shame. He squeezed his eyes shut and struggled to control his ragged breathing in an attempt to feign sleep.

Eventually, Kian’s rhythm slowed and he lifted his hands from Ambris’s skin. Ambris almost whimpered in protest before he remembered his shame. He bit back the sound before it could escape and lay still as Kian carefully eased himself off the bed.

The healer pulled Ambris’s nightshirt back down and the covers back up, then quietly tended the fire. Ambris held his breath, waiting for him to leave, but Kian remained in the room for a long while before finally slipping out the door and locking it behind him. Ambris lay awake for the rest of the night, wondering if Kian had sensed his arousal.

And what he must think of him if he had.

About the Author

Jaye McKenna icon

Jaye McKenna was born a Brit and was dragged, kicking and screaming, across the Pond at an age when such vehement protest was doomed to be misinterpreted as a “paddy”. She grew up near a sumac forest in Minnesota and spent most of her teen years torturing her parents with her electric guitar and her dark poetry. She was punk before it was cool and a grown-up long before she was ready. Jaye writes fantasy and science fiction stories about hot guys who have the hots for each other. She enjoys making them work darn hard for their happy endings, which might explain why she never gets invited to their parties.

You can contact Jaye McKenna at     Goodreads| Twitter| Website

Giveaway

Leythe Blade

To celebrate the release of Blackfrost, the author is giving away a copy of Leythe Blade.  You must be 18 years of age or older to enter.  Leave a comment here with your email address.  Contest ends May 17th.