A VVivacious Review: That Doesn’t Belong Here by Dan Ackerman

Standard

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Emily and Levi are out on the beach when they find a silver pickup truck in the middle of the ocean. When Emily and Levi go to investigate they find someone trapped in the back seat, injured.

But this someone isn’t human, it’s something else and nothing like anything they have seen before but as it turns out that isn’t even the most interesting thing about Kato. Because the fact of the matter is that Kato is part of a sentient species.

Levi is struggling with himself and his sexuality. Making things worse is the fact that Kato seems to like him and not only is Kato a man but he is also not a human and Levi can’t seem to deny that he feels something for Kato too.

This is a really short story at least as far as I am concerned. My reader puts this at 146 pages but with the speed that I flew through the pages,this book might as well have been 50 pages long instead of thrice that.

This book had me hooked from the beginning. I read the first chapter which I found in the author’s email requesting the review but I couldn’t stop after having read only a single chapter and I would have seriously bought this book just to find out what was next if it had already been published. But it wasn’t so I couldn’t, but I did download a sample off of Smashwords which had a lot more content but still not enough to satisfy me and I remember going off on a hunt to find a book to distract me until I could get my hands on an ARC. Thankfully I got it the next day and I finished it in the same day.

God this book was unbelievable. It had such an amazingly well-executed premise and just the concept of this book had me so hooked, imagining that there is a sentient species right here on Earth that we know nothing about. I also loved the author’s idea of not having Kato be an alien because initially, I thought that was the lines along which this story would be headed but it didn’t and I fell a little bit more in love with this book.

As if that wasn’t enough to make the story good, the author tops it off with some amazing characters, perfect in their imperfections. I was already in love with Kato throughout the book but I didn’t realise how much till Kato finds himself in trouble and then I couldn’t wait for him to get out of it. But what was surprising is how much I loved Levi. I think I loved the fact that Levi wasn’t super model hot and he actually had some fat on him. The fact that Levi is confused, doesn’t quite understand who he is and at the same time struggles with his body could have gone really wrong because I don’t appreciate a self-deprecating personality in denial but Levi, God Levi makes it work. What was amazing about Levi was how his inner worth always shone through and his quiet strength was always on display no matter how blind he was to both these qualities of his. I also loved Emily, she is just such a contained character and I loved her independence and her confidence and her tendency to worry. This was one woman that I genuinely admired.

I can’t think of a single character in this book supporting or otherwise that wasn’t memorable and I truly fell in love with all of the nice ones and hated all the other ones.

The story doesn’t let up for a second because even though the story line moves slowly the pace of the book is fast. Things move slowly but at the same time it feels like everything is moving by too quickly or maybe it was my own reluctance of not having the book end coupled with my eagerness to know what happens next that made me feel that way.

This book ends suddenly, it is like reaching the top of a crescendo and instead of being gently guided down you find yourself in a free fall. I loved the ending but at the same time, I wanted more. This book truly had a dichotomy of emotions rising up in me.

There are a few loose ends that aren’t tied up in this book. Firstly, the fact that we never find out how Kato ended up in that trunk and secondly, we never find out what Charlotte wanted to discuss with Kato. Not that I mind too much. As far as I am concerned this book was perfect in spite of its flaws.

This book is amazing but it was imagination that flows throughout this book that has me so enraptured with this book and all its characters.

Cover Art. I really like the cover for the book not because of the picture that adorns it, which to be honest I find a little childish but what I love about the picture is that I can see how that image inspired this body of work or vice versa which makes this image more than just how it looks because it might look childish but it has depth.

Sales Links:  Preorder at Amazon 

Book Details:

ebook
Expected publication: October 1st 2017 by Supposed Crimes, LLC
ISBN13
9781944591892

Bradley Lloyd on The Games of Shadow Fray and Shadow Fray (Shadow Fray: Round One) (author guest post, exclusive excerpt and giveaway)

Standard

Shadow Fray (Shadow Fray #1) by Bradley Lloyd
DSP Publications
Cover Artist: Anna Sikorska

Available for Purchase at

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Bradley Lloyd here today, talking about his latest release Shadow Fray. Welcome, Bradley!

✒︎

Let’s Play! The Games of Shadow Fray

In reading Shadow Fray, one might think the plot was decidedly adult. Think The Hunger Games but with a healthy dose of Fight Club. While I’m a fan of both titles, the inspiration for Shadow Fray came from a place far more innocent–the games I played as a little kid.

My childhood wasn’t filled with fisticuffs or mixed martial arts lessons; instead, I took daily trips with my siblings and friends to the municipal swimming pool. We played the standard games like Marco Polo, and we took turns swimming under each other’s legs without touching, kind of like an underwater version of the limbo. The game I most remember, though, was one based entirely on imagination.

In this game, our familiar pool became infested with invisible, hungry underwater creatures. You’d be fine if you never touched the bottom, because that’s where they lived. We’d spend all day swimming around, trying not to touch the bottom. If you did touch the bottom, that’s when the little monsters would attack with their nasty bites. Too many bites, and you could die. BUT if you managed to apply the special ointment in time, you could stave off infection and death.

The special ointment was Coppertone sunscreen lotion. The year we invented that game, we never got sunburned, believe me. In fact, we probably went through at least a giant economy bottle a week.

My main goal in writing Shadow Fray was to write something fun–a steamy, action-packed romance. So when I thought about what was most fun, this pool game came to mind, probably at first subconsciously but it morphed into a very important plot point.

In Shadow Fray, the ground has been poison for many years. Unlike the pool game, you can touch the ground, but prolonged exposure results in what the characters refer to as Ground Sickness. Because of this, those with enough money live in high-rises as far from the ground as possible.

For this reason, Justin is forced to fight in the underground tournament known as Shadow Fray. He needs to keep his twin sister and younger brother living safely off the ground, and the only way to supplement their meager income is for him to win. The stakes are high, especially when he faces Hale, a brawler he has long admired. Though they fight for similar reasons, they find themselves at odds, first with each other, and then the greater forces at work in the crumbling world around them.

If you’ve read this far, chances are getting better that you might also read the book, so I’m going to reveal a spoiler-free special secret right here. You won’t find out in the first book what really caused the ground toxification. Do I know? Yes. Will you know eventually? Yes. There’s clues if you want to try to figure it out, and like a good sci-fi, it has a basis in fact. Not revealing everything right away was a tricky decision for me as a writer. Is it realistic that people, after a post-apocalyptic event, wouldn’t know the cause or the remedy? One of the plot points is the misinformation provided by the shady people remaining in power. So, I decided, yes, it could be realistic. Granted, this was all before the election and the influx of “alternative facts,” so I think this choice was the right one to make, even prescient, though it asks the reader to follow me along for a bit.

You see, I think as I got older, my mind went from imagining pool monsters to imagining more realistic monsters, and now I love a good mystery. My favorite childhood game led me to a more adult game of playing sleuth, or maybe hide-and-seek, where it’s the truth that’s hiding. Shadow Fray is all about games, and I sincerely hope you’ll come and play along with me. ~ Bradley Lloyd

Book Blurb

Family is worth fighting for—and family doesn’t always mean blood.

 

No one knows what calamity poisoned the earth and decimated the human population, but living close to the toxic ground means illness and death. Justin is determined to keep his twin sister and younger brother from that fate—no matter what he has to do. To earn enough to keep his family safe in a high-rise, Justin enlists in a deadly sport called Shadow Fray. He quickly finds himself in over his head, especially when he is scheduled to face the most dangerous player.

 

Hale—who competes as Black Jim—knows he won’t be on top forever, despite his skills. He fights for a better life for his daughter, but his time is running out as Shadow Fray becomes increasingly lethal. Something about the newest fighter intrigues him, but does he dare defy his masters to investigate? Justin and Hale will clash in the ring, while beyond it the powerful elite and the crumbling world seem determined to keep them apart. If they can find common ground, they might have a chance to fight for their futures.

Exclusive Excerpt

Since my guest blog post is about childhood games, I thought I would introduce you to one of my favorite characters, the 10-year-old Charlie, who is mute. He’s the much younger brother of our hero, Justin. Even though he doesn’t talk, Charlie is still very expressive, like in this school assignment. In the book, Justin secretly holds on to this letter as a reminder of his reason for fighting in Shadow Fray. It’s also a great introduction to the Shadow Fray world. Enjoy!

Handwriting Practice

The Person I Look Up to Most

To: Sister Tim

From: Charlie

Justin does his best even when it’s hard, even when he’s tired and maybe hurting a little bit. He always shows courage. That’s why he’s the person I look up to the most.

I think we all have secrets to keep. It’s nice to have a little bit of privacy, like from the drones, and my brother tries to give us that. But we never hide. He wants me to have a normal life, whatever that is. My brother keeps secrets, but not from me. And he helps me keep my secrets too. Sometimes we hide from the drones like Shutters, but mostly we pretend like it’s just us.

Justin always tries to do what’s best for my sister and me. He raised me when my sister was at work. He always did lots of stuff with me. He read me books until I could read on my own. I didn’t even need school for that, because he taught me. But our favorite thing to do is watch cartoons.

He tries to keep things from me, but not in a bad way. He puts his tablet down all the time, but I know he’s reading. It’s almost like he doesn’t want anyone to know he reads, not even me. I think he doesn’t want me to be too curious about things. It’s another way he tries to protect me. So we just do kid stuff. But that’s okay.

My brother is really strong. He works out and he lifts weights. He makes me come with him and read a book but I watch him too. I know he stays strong to protect me and my sister. My sister is fertile, and so he always feels like he has to protect her because she’s in danger or something. My sister can take care of herself, but he does it anyway. I like that about him.

Justin’s secret is that he’s really smart. Like, really smart. Someday, my brother is going to figure out what is wrong with the world. He will figure out why all the people got sick and died so long ago, and what happened to poison the ground. Then he’ll find out why there’s not as many girls anymore, and why people can’t have babies. Maybe he’ll even find the cure for ground sickness, but that’s probably asking too much. I mean, he can’t do everything.

Here’s a secret about him and me. He says there’s two kinds of people—people who stay alive and people who go poking their noses where they don’t belong. I don’t say it (ha ha), but I know he’s both, and I’m both too. So really, there’s three kinds of people. But don’t tell him I said that.

He wants me to go to college at Exxon or DuPont in Chicago. I like that idea. Because if my brother doesn’t find out what happened and how to fix it, I want to find out for him. He’d like to take me out of Bruise City to Chicago, but maybe someday I will do that for him instead. Anyway, I like it here, because this is my home, and this is where you are too. Thanks for being the best teacher.

He would be so mad if he knew I wrote this. But I know you keep secrets too. So please keep my secret. I know you will, because you’re the third person I most look up to, and you always tell me I can do anything.

My brother tells me that too.

From: Charlie

P.S. My sister is the second person and I also have a friend named Gristopher Mays and he’s the fourth person. He’s really nice but I haven’t known him as long as I’ve known you.

P.P.S. I think you are that special third kind of person too. Thanks for being the best teacher.

Since my guest blog post is about childhood games, I thought I would introduce you to one of my favorite characters, the 10-year-old Charlie, who is mute. He’s the much younger brother of our hero, Justin. Even though he doesn’t talk, Charlie is still very expressive, like in this school assignment. In the book, Justin secretly holds on to this letter as a reminder of his reason for fighting in Shadow Fray. It’s also a great introduction to the Shadow Fray world. Enjoy!

Giveaway

Rafflecopter Giveaway: $20 Amazon gift card.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

OR

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/90c9fc3c1/?

About the Author

Bradley Lloyd is a Chicago-born author who studied Creative Writing at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He was raised in a conservative religious household but became aware of his sexuality at a very young age—about the same age he learned of his ancestry to Hans Christian Andersen. Inspired by this knowledge, writing became an outlet that helped him cope with inner conflicts and bullying.

Of course, he was no angel and occasionally used his storytelling powers for evil. He once convinced the neighborhood children that gnomes had been real before all being turned into lawn ornaments.

Later, these experiences lead him to work with middle-school students. Now a teacher in the inner city, he shares his love of writing with a captive audience of kids, who are thrilled with true(ish) tales of their haunted school building. 

Interestingly, his favorite UFC fighter and former world champion was a student at his school, and when Brad is not reading or writing, you might find him hosting the next UFC pay-per-view event party. His dreams of becoming an ultimate fighter are realized vicariously through his stories and video games.

Brad is happily married to a wonderful husband. Their tenth anniversary was also the day same-sex marriage became legal, and they were couple number seven at the courthouse.

You can read more of Brad’s (free) tales on his website BradleyLloyd.com, check him out on Medium, follow IMBradleyLloyd on Facebook and Twitter,

or e-mail him directly at IMBradleyLloyd@BradleyLloyd.com

A MelanieM Recent Release Review: Sharp Shooter Tokyoite by Charlie Godwyne

Standard

Rating: 2 stars out of 5

It’s 2035 and Kei is a half-Japanese, half-American asthmatic forced to relocate to Vancouver in order to breathe. Despite the difficulties that being in Japan entails, Kei goes back time and again to spend time with Taka, best friend and confidante, and help him hunt illegal pornographers. But no matter how badly Kei wishes they could be together permanently, life seems determined to keep them apart.

I was so looking forward to this story from reading the blurb.  It had so many things that intrigue me, a Japanese location with Japanese or half Japanese characters with unusual jobs, who exist in a dystopian world.  Unfortunately the execution just didn’t pan out.

For starters, the narrative comes out as muddied instead of clearly defined.  There is a weird intro about shooting a crow that really has nothing to do with the rest of the story, nothing about the world building is substantial other than the fact that there are  pornographers still  in existence (not a surprise) and that the air quality is bad, even worse if you have asthma.  How is this supposed to be a reach when it already exists now?  When there are people who need to wear masks in cities during yellow and red zone days? It happens around the world now from Arizona to China so to have this story located in 2035 makes little sense.

So already you have 2 marks against this story.  Then you get to the characters.  Kei and Taka, who have such a disjointed relationship that there is absolutely no chemistry between them and therefore no connection between them and the reader.  I really couldn’t figure out why they wanted to stay together.

The best part of this story?  The very last part which was cut short when the story ended.  That’s when the author should have picked up and run with it, that whole concept was great.  But no, that was the end of the story.  Oh well.

Cover artist:  Natasha Snow.  Neat cover, nice design.

Sales Link:   Less Than Three Press  | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 40 pages
Published April 26th 2017 by Less Than Three Press
ISBN139781620049860
Edition LanguageEnglish

Wendy Rathbone on Playing the “V” Card and her release The Android and the Thief’ (guest blog and excerpt)

Standard

The Android and the Thief by Wendy Rathbone
D
reamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Anne Cain

Available for Purchase at

amazon square borderB&N borderApple borderKobo border

✒︎

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Wendy Rathbone here today, talking about her characters, writing and her  latest novel,  The Android and the Thief. Welcome, Wendy.

✒︎

Playing the “V” Card

by Wendy Rathbone

My new novel, “The Android and the Thief,” is just out from Dreamspinner. It takes place in the far future where there are cloud cities, space prisons and flying cars, but people are still people with the same wants, needs and desires as 21st century Earth.

The book is a romance with some dark elements but a lot of heart and two main characters who really came to life for me as I wrote.

Khim and Trev are two very different people from two very different backgrounds.

Trev is the youngest son of the head of an organized crime family. He is trapped by his life and a father who will never let him go.

Khim is a vat-grown human android, born adult. He is an indentured man, born to be subservient, a slave to his owners. Created to be a soldier, Khim spends the first ten years of his adult life fighting, killing, following orders. When he is injured and cannot be healed sufficiently to go back into combat, he is sold to a brothel, something he is not trained for. Life for him just got spectacularly worse, and his already weakened programming to be submissive completely breaks down.

One born in privilege, one born in servitude, both men suffer their lack of independence. Because of their sheltered existence, neither is especially cultivated in societal norms, especially relationships. Trev is an introverted bookworm, acrobat thief and computer guy. Khim, having no hope for a future, simply lives for combat, the only job he’s known.

I did not realize, until I got deep into the story with my characters yammering in my ear, that circumstances created both characters to not only be late bloomers, they meet as virgins.

My editor noticed this and made the comment: “Ah, so you’re playing the “v” card.” She did not criticize it, or tell me it was wrong. She simply noticed, and gave me a smiley face.

I thought to myself, “Wow, did I do that?”

Well, yes, I most certainly did.

I think it makes a story fun when you have two characters who are both desperately trying to escape untenable situations while at the same time discovering who they are. Everything around them changes. They must change, too, or failing that, regress to their former, unhappy selves.

Khim and Trev’s love story came about quite naturally. When they finally realize they are in love, it is very exciting for them. Two guys who have had the worst, finally get a bit of reward.

Question for readers: Do you have favorite characters from any media—books, TV, movies—that you love who are innocent, virginal, or even asexual?

Thank you for reading!

Here is an excerpt from “The Android and the Thief”:

Strangers bathed his body in lilac-scented water. They brushed him down, naked, with gold body powder. They rimmed his eyes with blue shadow and caressed his lips with a soft pink sheen.

Khim might have fought them off if, beforehand, they hadn’t made him breathe the curling zotic smoke from the pleasure wands the grooms waved all about his face and head. The smoke aroused him against his will, made him pliant, dizzy. Paralyzed his vocal cords—an invisible gag—and took away all aggression. Aggression under command orders for expert frontline fighting was his own past means of survival. Bereft of that, he had no sense of what to do as his body betrayed him by following every command of the grooms, every lead.

The grooms, three human boys who looked no more than nineteen, seemed pleased at his response. But mostly they seemed bored, applying all the makeup and powder as if they’d done it a hundred times before. Their touches were professional, gentle, not cruel. But except for that gentleness, they seemed uncaring about what he might be going through.

Created to obey, Khim had no words within him for a protest.

Brought onto a small lighted stage on a thin laser-leash by a fourth handsome groom, Khim could see nothing beyond the glow that contained him but shadows and darker man-shapes upon those shadows.

Knowing nothing of this new, nonmilitary world, he felt vulnerable and exposed, and fear fluttered through his stomach and into his chest. He knew what this was about—sex and its darker underpinnings. It couldn’t be otherwise, for he was naked, painted like a doll. He’d witnessed androids fucking without inhibition, but he’d never wanted it for himself. Never felt aroused by his own kind. Never had the sex drive some of the others seemed born with. If something was wrong with him, he never thought about it or cared. He got his pleasure from battle, from storming alien worlds and using his weapons to subvert, kill, destroy. It was enough for him.

But that was no longer his life.

This new thing was something so completely “other” to what he was trained for. He didn’t want it.

But his mind and body were like separate entities now. In this moment, upon this stage, as he tried again to find words to deny, to protest, to negate the proceedings, nothing happened but a few twitches in the sleek, round muscles beneath his henna skin. His voice was cramped down low in his throat, unwilling or unable to come out, and he was turned upon the dais as if he were a doll for all those out there in the shadows to ogle and critique and assess.

If there were conversations about his viability, his virility, his beauty, they were silent, through private systems and digital conveyances. He was privy to none of it, and Khim abhorred that even more.

The groom who’d led him into this dark area leaned away, put a hand up to his ear as if listening. Right after that, the groom made a motion and touched Khim on the wrist. He forced him to lift his right hand up and turn it, showing off the silver gleam of the metal that had replaced the flesh-and-bone hand he had lost in the explosion on Doom in Shadow.

It all took just under a minute. Then the grooms led Khim off by the glowing leash into a dark corridor beyond the little stage, where he was able to overhear just the barest of harsh whisperings.

*

Blurb for “The Android and the Thief” by Wendy Rathbone

Will love set them free—or seal their fate?

In the 67th century, Trev, a master thief and computer hacker, and Khim, a vat-grown human android, reluctantly share a cell in a floating space prison called Steering Star. Trev is there as part of an arrangement that might finally free him from his father’s control. Khim, formerly a combat android, snaps when he is sold into the pleasure trade and murders the man who sexually assaults him. At first they are at odds, but despite secrets and their dark pasts, they form a pact—first to survive the prison, and then to escape it.

But independence remains elusive, and falling in love comes with its own challenges. Trev’s father, Dante, a powerful underworld figure with sweeping influence throughout the galaxy, maintains control over their lives that seems stronger than any prison security system, and he seeks to keep them apart. Trev and Khim must plan another, more complex escape, and this time make sure they are well beyond the law as well as Dante’s reach.

*

*

About the Author

Wendy Rathbone has been writing for years, but since 2012 her focus is mostly on m/m romance. She writes all genres but seems to prefer fantasy and sci fi. She is also an award-winning poet. She lives in Yucca Valley, California, USA.

Wendy Rathbone’s Social Media Links:

Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Wendy-Rathbone/e/B00B0O9BMS/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1490462215&sr=1-2-ent

Newsletter sign up: http://eepurl.com/cqDVcX

Blog: http://wendyrathbone.blogspot.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wendy.rathbone.3

A Lila Release Day Review: Falling Into the Black (A Planet Called Wish #3) by Caitlin Ricci

Standard

Rate: 4 stars out of 5

Sometimes there’s a difference between duty and doing what’s right. And sometimes doing what’s right comes with a high price.

Every aspasian at Asiq adores the handsome peacekeeper Resan—all except for Arin. While the other workers vie for Resan’s attention, Arin avoids him at all costs, which rouses Resan’s suspicion. When he discovers Arin is a runaway slave, Resan is bound by law to return him to his master. It is only later that Resan realizes what he’s done.

Arin’s owner bought him at twelve, married him, and not only violated Arin himself, but loaned him out to his friends. Resan has returned him to a life of rape and abuse, and now he must make a decision: free Arin and abandon the oaths he swore as a peacekeeper, or leave him to languish and abandon his own conscience and heart.

Falling Into the Black has a different feel than the previous books in the series. Perhaps because it takes place on different planets in the galaxy, and Corbin & Thierry are just secondary characters with a limited participation in the story. Even when they do play an important role, and we get updates on their relationships.

Arin and Resan are interesting characters. As a peacekeeper, Resan sees everything as black or white, good or bad. On the other hand, Arin’s life experiences have shown him the diversity found in-between those places. It takes time, and many rough moments for them to see beyond their own perceptions and into a future together.

The first part of the story moves fast and gets into the main issues right away. I’m glad that Arin’s experiences weren’t too graphic even when they were heartbreaking. I did have trouble putting the book down because I wanted to know how everything would be resolved. It does slow down toward the middle before it picks up again.

There are several twists and turns, and when you think the story is almost over, it’s just halfway there. Some things are a bit gut wrenching but don’t take away from the story. I enjoyed learning about the rest of the planets, the species, and all their characteristics. The world-build makes sense and enhances the scenes instead of being intrusive.

I’m not too sure about the ending and that’s why the story isn’t five stars for me. It’s more of an HFN than anything else, but not exactly what I was expecting. I love this series and I hope another one comes out soon. I definitely want to read more about this world and the couples we have met.

The cover by Brooke Albrecht goes well with others in the series. But, Arin’s representation seems too human.

Sale Links: Dreamspinner | Amazon | Kobo

Book Details:

ebook, 145 pages
Published: March 17, 2017, by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN: 9781635334890
Edition Language: English

Series: A Planet Called Wish
Book #1: To the Highest Bidder
Book #2: Fantasy for a Gentleman
Book #3: Falling into the Black

 

A VVivacious Release Day Review: Shaper by Christine Danse

Standard
Rating: 5 Stars out of 5
 
I woke up running through the abandoned streets of Shapertown. I didn’t know who I was, where I had come from or even who I was running from. It was like I had come into this world running with the nebulous command of “Run” ringing through my brain. I hid myself only to be found by a pair of brown boots with red laces and I didn’t know if I should run or not. After all, where do you run when you have nowhere to go?
 
This book is Wow! It tells the story of a planet at the centre of the universe where reality itself is in a constant flux. In this world exist a group of people know as Shapers that can change the very matrix of reality with their thoughts. They are varied, each with specific abilities and the government seeks to control them leading to a rebellion and it is in these dangerous times that our story begins.
 
I loved the premise of this story. It is like the perfect mix of plausible married to boundless imagination and the story is beautifully written. I loved our main character for someone who has no idea who she is she is very balanced individual and I found myself engrossed in her story from the very beginning.
 
This book is a story first and foremost and that is the deepest compliment I can give it. This story is amazing. Some stories really amaze me with the extent of imagination and this was one of them. I am truly mystified by the planet of Mi’hani and the life that exists on it. I am very hopeful for the books that are to follow in this series because if the first book is any indication this is going to be one hell of a ride.
 
Our second main character is Natalia who is lethal in every way. I mean she has some mad skills but for once it was refreshing to meet an assassin, a killer who wasn’t jaded who felt the burden of the path she has led but tried to keep living with it instead of arresting her emotions, while still being a bloody fantastic person to read about. I loved the character of Natalia and I am very excited to see where her relationship with Lark is going to go.
 
This story is a gateway to a bigger picture and I can’t wait for the books that will enlighten that path.
 
Cover Art by Natasha Snow. I loved the colour especially its mix of the shades of blue and green that seem to sum up the universe. All in all it is a fabulous cover.
Sales Links
Book Details:
ebook, 45 pages
Expected publication: March 13th 2017 by NineStar Press
ISBN139781945952715
Edition LanguageEnglish

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Countermind by Adrian Randall

Standard

Rating: 4 stars out of 5* with notations

countermind-by-adrian-randallIn a postprivacy future, secrets are illegal and all communication is supervised. Telepaths are registered and recruited by a government with no qualms about invading the minds of its citizens. Fugitive psychics are hunted by the Bureau of Counterpsychic Affairs, or Countermind.

Alan Izaki is one such fugitive, as well as a hacker, grifter, and thief.
Countermind agent Jack Smith is hunting him through the twisted underbelly of Hong Kong.

But Alan possesses a secret so dangerous and profound it will not only shake Smith’s loyalties, but the foundations of their society.

And Alan isn’t the only one on the run. Rogue psychic Arissa binti Noor escapes Countermind, in search of brilliant game designer Feng Huang. She hopes that together, they can destroy the government’s intrusive Senex monitoring system.

Their goals seem at odds, and their lives are destined to collide. When they do, three very different people must question their alliances and their future, because everything is about to change.

If there was ever a book I could divide up and give different ratings to, it would be Countermind.  Its taken me a while to decide how exactly to approach this review because I have such mixed emotions over this story.  If I had my druthers, the ratings would look something like this:

Rating: 2.5 stars for 50 percent of the book
Rating: 5 stars for the remaining 50 percent of the book

And that changes as I remember different parts, both good and bad.  Sometimes its 60/40 or 40/60.  Or even 30/70.  Really, this book confounds me.

Most of the lower ratings would come at the beginning, and yes, the middle as well.  The fragmented narrative, even from present day to future, from character to character (s) in the plot timeline was confusing at best, incoherent at its worst.  It was like getting snatches of plot and people only to be thrown into another situation entirely.  Jarring doesn’t begin to describe how a reader feels. Its so densely packed with information and plot threads that its overwhelming and the leaping here and there only serves to make a reader lose track of what has just been laid out in the short previous section.  Really, I started taking notes.

But I plugged along as this was an ARC I’d been given (and I’ve never had a DNF yet) and a funny thing happened.  Randall abandoned his broken storytelling, the narrative became linear and Countermind evolved into the story it could have been all along.  It turns into an masterful tale of suspense, an alternative universe where psychics are sought because they are regarded as both dangerous to the States as well as a highly regarded commodity or tool for the government to use depending upon their personality.  Randall also brings all those previously unconnected or loosely connected puzzle pieces together and locks them into the drama so now we are firmly invested in these characters futures (if they have any) and the next precarious, breath-taking turn of the page.

Why oh why didn’t this happen sooner?

I can understand if the author didn’t want us to connect the dots early on but surely there was another way of doing it other than frustrating the heck out of a reader and making the book as disjointed as this was in the beginning.

Even at the end, the author just can’t leave things alone.  Unless, Randall is planning on this being a series which is possible.  There is that whole thing about Korea and….no, I won’t go there.  But I thought that was more than a tad absurd too.  Damn, forgot about Korea.  Should have cut that out altogether, unless of course, there’s a sequel coming.  Wouldn’t surprise me at all.   See what I mean about this story? Shakes head.

What to tell you.  Well the great bits about this story are just that…really great.  Mind-bending, suspenseful, hold your breath, just loved it great!  And the stuff I found absurd, dense, and fragmented?  Bad enough to make you not want to plow further into the story.  But I found it worth it.  It all depends upon if you like this genre enough to want to read Countermind.  If you do, tell me what you think.  I’m truly interested.

Cover art by L.C. Chase is terrific.  Works great for the character and storyline.

Sales Links

dsp-publications-logo

65a2f-waxcreative-amazon-kindle

Book Details:

ebook, 286 pages
Expected publication: February 28th 2017 by DSP Publications
ISBN 1635332699 (ISBN13: 9781635332698)
Edition LanguageEnglish

Release Day Blitz: Learning to Want by Tami Veldura (excerpt)

Standard

Title:  Learning To Want

Author: Tami Veldura

Publisher: Nine Star Press

Release Date: November 21 2016

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 30k words

Genre: Romance, Science Fiction, BDSM (spanking, dominance, denial)

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

Khoram is an enforcer, a bodyguard, but his boss has just betrayed him. Now he’s stranded on a desert planet he’s never heard of, chained to the only other human around.

Atash grew up in the cracks of Dulia’s complex social structure, where dominance and submission are a man’s worth. He’s struggled for years on a lower caste but Khoram could be his ticket to a better life if they can find common ground.

Atash wants to teach Khoram the art of submitting by choice and maybe make a name for himself along the way. Khoram, however, isn’t here to play Atash’s political games. He’s going to escape, if his former employer doesn’t see him killed first.

Excerpt

Learning to Want
Tami Veldura © 2016
All Rights Reserved

Khoram couldn’t help testing his bonds. The metal chain between his hands and feet rattled, laughing at his attempts. The line of slaves shuffled forward one space, and Khoram was dragged along whether he wanted it or not. A lot of things were happening whether he wanted them to or not. The food he ate, the beer he drank, the clothes they took, the hands that verified he was in working condition. He flinched at the memory.

To distract himself he looked up and tried to count the days. Four behind bars on Elliot’s ship thanks to good-for-nothing Nik, six on the small space hopper, three in the holding cells while he and the Ohiri waited for another connection, two in the transport that left them here on Dulia, five—no, six now—at the auction house. Twenty-one days for Nik to cover his tracks. Almost a full cycle for the trail to go cold. Khoram grit his teeth. At the very least something different was happening.

The slave line shuffled forward.

Here, off stage, they kept the rooms mostly dim. It didn’t diminish Dulia’s oppressive heat in the slightest, but the closer Khoram was guided to the glowing roll-up door of the slave block, the more he longed for home. His fitful dreams tortured him with visions of Avois’s wet jungles and waterfalls. He hadn’t actually been home in over a decade, too busy making his fortune as an enforcer and bodyguard, but he was starting to see the error of his ways. Or at least the error of Nik’s.

Khoram licked his lips. He pressed them together, already regretting it. They’d been chapped dry for days. His wrists and ankles chafed under the iron. These were better discomforts than the lingering slick between his legs and exactly what lay on the other side of that bright doorway.

A Dulia lizardman flared the red frill around his neck as he walked the slave line, clicking orders in his native tongue and emphasizing them with a small electric prod. Khoram had tested the prod’s worth enough times to know it could knock him on his ass without much effort. He looked away from the mercenary and shuffled forward with the line.

He wasn’t exactly inconspicuous. The group he was chained to consisted largely of Ohiri natives: light-skinned, five-foot average, and generally docile. They were just as likely to stay in line without the chains and prod. Khoram stood out among them: a tall, dark, massive human furious in his captivity. Khoram was highly trained and just waiting for a chance to show it. In a fair fight, the lizardmen would fold like paper and they knew it. He’d never been unchained, left alone, or handled by fewer than four, and they were always armed with their electric prods. Always on alert.

Khoram grit his teeth. From capture to sale, he hadn’t managed a single successful bid for freedom, and he’d tried more than a few times. Now he took a breath and let his patience steady his hands, let the line of slaves tug him along. If the lizardmen couldn’t be overcome, whoever purchased him could be. Khoram wasn’t entirely familiar with Dulia’s customs, but if the easily dominated Ohiri were slaves of choice, Khoram wasn’t going to fetch much interest or profit.

The slave in front of him was unleashed from the line and yanked out the bright door. A lizardman pointed at the vacated spot, and Khoram shuffled forward to occupy it. The heat pulsed through the door in bright waves, bringing scents of sand, sweat, and a light spice that was unfamiliar. He could hear voices, now: the auctioneer yelling in rapid Duliana, the crowd barking their bids in turn, the sound of rhythmic smacking, a chorus of cheers. Another winning bid.

Then Khoram’s chains were unleashed and, flanked by two lizardmen with prods, he was led through the door. Hot metal rattled under his feet, and the blinding sun limited his view of more than the circular platform onto which he was pulled. A lizardman unhooked his wrists from his ankles, instead latching the chain to something that hoisted his arms suddenly overhead. His breath whooshed out. They tightened his ankle chains to the platform, and with a metal screech, it slowly began to rotate. They were showing him off. A tingle of awareness tripped over his skin and exposed groin—the attention of a hundred eyes.

Khoram squinted. The auctioneer espoused in Duliana for several minutes, likely explaining why the hell this bear of a human was on the block instead of a lithe Ohiri, spinning his assets to garner the crowd’s favor. Khoram knew a snake-oil salesman when he saw one, even if he didn’t share their language.

The platform turned him, and he faced the crowd. More of a species mix than he expected. Lizardmen were not the primary slave-owners if this was a decent selection. Mostly tall Frea, in fact, their black scales draped in white gossamer. They were members of Dulia’s refined upper caste, and other than video, this was the first he’d seen them. They weren’t known to ever leave Dulia, though they profited from the wider galaxy’s trade gladly. Pockets of Slone-dogs made the most noise in the crowd. They barked in their hybrid dialect, likely obscene things Khoram didn’t want translated. He curled his lip at the closest pack, and they yipped at each other.

Purchase

Nine Star Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes | Smashwords

Meet the Author

Queer romance, sci­ence fic­tion, fan­tasy, steam­punk, and YA fiction author. I’m only here until I reach escape velocity. Artist. Gardener. Gamer. Raynauds. Asexual.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | eMail | Instagram | Patreon

 

 

 

 

Blog Button 2

Save

Save

Save

Save

An Ali Review:They Walk Among Us by T.A. Chase

Standard

Rating:  4 stars out of 5

 

they-walk-among-us-by-ta-chaseZach agrees to help Raven and finds himself drawn into a world he never knew existed.

 

Zach Harleigh was a baby when the aliens arrived. He doesn’t remember much about those months, except his parents fighting and his dad leaving. His father died, destroying the aliens, and his mother died when Zach graduated from medical school. He’s alone in the world and working hard to get his career going leaves no time for any kind of relationship.

 

One night, a beautiful man is brought into the ER. Raven Sanderson has been severely beaten and seems unsocialized. Raven and Zach hit it off when Zach takes over his care. Raven can’t speak but writes notes to Zach, letting him know the man is in the city to find his sister.

 

Zach agrees to help Raven and discovers a world he never knew existed. A world full of alien creatures that read minds and heal with a simple touch. He realizes there is more to the world around him, and the aliens he thought were destroyed weren’t. Their offspring walk among us.

 

Zach has always been interested in the aliens that were around when he was a baby, but never thought he would actually see one as they were said to have all been killed.  He doesn’t hate them, far from it, he has spent a lot of time researching and trying to find the truth.  When he meets Raven he is fascinated with him and wants to do anything he can to help him.

 

Raven is intrigued by the intriguing doctor, but doesn’t want to get anyone involved in his mission, let alone he isn’t sure about trusting a human.  He quickly learns there are a lot of layers underneath the surface and nothing about the doctor is quite what it seems at the beginning.  Both of these characters have been longing for someone to love and someone they can let into their lives without reservation.

 

We see how open Zach is to Raven, even showing him things that he has never shown anyone else.  Raven is so reserved at the beginning, but eventually opens up and really begins to hope for a future with Zach and his people.  I loved seeing them fight together to overcome the things standing in their way to get Raven’s sister and then for their future.

 

The cover art by Posh Gosh is wonderful and perfect for this story.

 

Sales Links: Pride Publishing | Amazon | B&N

 

Book Details:

ebook, 168 pages

Publication: February 7, 2017 by Pride Publishing

ISBN: 9781786515346

Edition Language: English

A Free Dreamer Review: A Bond of Three (Sensual Bonds #1) by K.C. Wells

Standard

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

a-bond-of-threeIn the kingdom of Teruna, the red-cloaked Seruani teach the Terunans the art of love. Taken from their homes at seventeen to be trained, they are shunned as outcasts by society and considered the lowest of the low. So when Prince Tanish falls in love with the Seruan Feyar, the man who took his virginity and the only one to share his bed, he is not about to declare that love. No one can ever know, because the consequences would be too painful to consider for both of them.

When the king of Vancor visits Teruna, he promises that his son, Prince Sorran, will marry Prince Tanish to solidify the alliance between the two kingdoms, with the proviso that the virginal Sorran is instructed in the art of pleasing his husband-to-be. When Tanish’s father chooses Feyar to be this instructor, the lovers decide Prince Sorran must be taught that this is to be a marriage in name only….

A resentful prince, unwilling to share his lover.

A resentful Seruan, unwilling to share his prince.

And the shy prince whose very nature sparks changes in the lives of all those around them.

Teruna is about to change forever.

The blurb tells you all you need to know about the plot. Still, I had expected a different kind of story. There was far more fluff and a lot less angst than I expected.

Sorran is the shy, virgin prince. He cried way too much for my liking and seemed extremely immature. It’s love at first sight for him with both Tanish and Feyar. Just like it was between Tanish and Feyar, and the two of them instantly fell for Sorran as well.

There was a bit of drama about Tanish and Feyar accepting their feelings for Sorran, but not all that much. They are destined for each other, after all. The whole issue was solved a little too easily. A lot of potential suspense and tension was lost here.

The rest of the plot is, in varying degrees, cheesy declarations of love and quite a bit of porn. Two minor bursts of conflict come up, but the solutions are once again very simple.

Sorran is an only child, as is Tanish. They’re the sole heirs to their kingdom. I never understood why they should marry. It just doesn’t make sense. Why would Sorran’s parents give away their only heir? And while it’s nice that homosexuality is perfectly acceptable in this universe, the natural lack of an heir from such a relationship should at least have been discussed.

It seemed very odd to me that Tanish, being the crown prince, wouldn’t know how the Seruani are chosen. Surely the future king has to know about such an integral part of his people’s society? Again, this would have needed more discussion.

The relationship ultimately revolved around Sorran. It was always Tanish and Feyar focusing on Sorran. That really bothered me. It just didn’t seem fair.

All in all, this was just too fluffy for me. Problems weren’t discussed properly and solutions were too easy. Just not my kind of book.

Cover: Just like the book, the cover isn’t really for me. Feyar looks more like an assassin or evil wizard than like a prostitute in that cloak.

Sales Links

Book details:

ebook, 264 pages
Published January 19th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1632166836 (ISBN13: 9781632166838)
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesSensual Bonds #1