Rob Rosen on And God Belched (guest blog)

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And God Belched by Rob Rosen

MLR Press
Cover Art: Winterheart Designs

Sales Links:  MLR Press  | Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Rob Rosen here today to talk about his latest release And God Belched, out from MLR Press.  Welcome, Rob!

🌎

 

Hello Readers! If you’re looking for a laugh, for some romance with a bit of heat, for a truly unique book, then I invite you to check out my twelfth (and, dare I say, best) novel, And God Belched, published by MLR Press.

Here’s a little bit about the book:

In this riotously funny romantic adventure, Randy and his younger brother, Craig, find themselves in a different universe, on a strange planet, desperately searching for Milo, a handsome stranger in imminent danger, all while being chased by the heavily armed local authorities. And that’s just the start of this epic journey. But what else does fate have in store for our brave heroes? And can one human save two worlds, the handsome alien he’s fallen in love with, his entire family, and a self-aware watch? Read on, dear Earthlings, to find out!

Feel free to pick up a copy here:

https://www.amazon.com/God-Belched-Rob-Rosen-ebook/dp/B078GG9L4P/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

And here’s an excerpt:

In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters, and God said, “let there be light,” and there was light.

Um, you know, sort of.

Actually, in the beginning, God belched out a universe—a big bang of a belch, in fact. It was, so it’s told elsewhere, an odoriferous, gaseous cloud of a rumbling belch. And like all good belches, it was followed by several smaller ones, each forming their own universes, which spread out and filled that above-mentioned void.

Ours was belch number four, the very last one. God had to pound his expansive chest to get that one out. “Oomph,” He said as our existence was made manifest, as out atoms spread outward, trailing those other far greater universes, just before that famous light was flicked on.

Click.

Picture, if you will, four bubbles floating through the blackness, turning end over end as they rapidly grew and expanded, as molecules collided and elements formed: hydrogen and helium and lithium—so that many years later we could have zeppelins and balloons and long-lasting batteries, and all because God was a bit gassy one day.

Anyway, that first belch, that first universe, went to the right; we veered leftward. Those other two, well, they’re not really pertinent to this story. So, for the sake of argument, let’s just say that one went up, the other down. Ta-ta, sister worlds. Live long and, um, prosper.

A year went by, two, then fourteen billion, give or take. I, too, was made manifest: Randy—both a name, namely mine, and an apt adjective. Made, in fact, by mom and dad, belching my way into the void on a cold January morning. Yep, just like it’s said, we truly are made in His image, at least in belching ability.

In any case, on that same January morning, in a universe far, far away—sort of, though, uh, not really—another baby boy was born: Milo. Well, that’s what I called him, anyway. Or at least would, at a time when those two universes happened to decide to play bumper cars together. In any case, his real name was close to a dozen letters long, strung together with nary a vowel to be had. I tried to pronounce it once, and was instantly stricken with a sore throat.

But wait, I’m getting ahead of myself here.

Back to me, Randy—the name, for the time being, not the adjective. I was born in San Francisco, the city by the bay, the city by the gays. I lived high upon a hill, one of the steepest in the city, sort of like a prince in a castle. Though our home was made of steel, not brick, not wood, not even stone. The architect was hoping to design a quake-proof house, or so the legend went. And like so many legends, such was not even close to the actual case, as it turned out. Anyway, we froze in the winter and melted when the sun poked through the endless fog. In other words, our house was wisely one of a kind.

“High upon a hill lives Prince Randy, clad in his ermine cape and golden crown, scepter raised in royal salute.” The story rolled off my mom’s tongue as she fed me Gerber’s mashed peas: my favorite.

FYI, the cape was my blankie, not ermine so much as polyester. The crown was a yellow bowl bought at Safeway. I still own said crown. Now I use it for cereal, as opposed to headwear. The scepter was my rattle. It was bequeathed to my younger brother a couple of years later. These days, I lift my cell phone in royal salute.

All the best and enjoy!

Rob Rosen

www.therobrosen.com

Author of the award-winning novels Sparkle: The Queerest Book You’ll Ever Love, Divas Las Vegas, Hot Lava, Southern Fried, Queerwolf, Vamp, Queens of the Apocalypse, Creature Comfort, Fate, Midlife Crisis, and Fierce, and editor of the anthologies Lust in Time, Men of the Manor, Best Gay Erotica 2015, and Best Gay Erotica of the Year, Volumes 1 and 2 and 3.

Read Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Review here.

 

A Free Dreamer Review: Barricade by Lindsey Black

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

The Barricade is all that separates the Northern Russian Empire from what remains of the world’s plague-decimated population. Snaking 8921 kilometres across Eurasia, the Barricade is crafted from the New World’s nanotechnologies. Breathing, thinking, constantly regenerating, it sustains those charged with defending its districts from those desperate to find refuge in the north.

Atop the battlements of District 666, Sasha Stepanova and his team ruthlessly suppress heavy insurgencies, but at a cost. With the loss of one of his men, Sasha feels isolated and adrift. The bitter snows are a harbinger of winter’s early arrival and the town on his southern perimeter is swelling with foreboding shadows.

Transferred from a black operations testing facility, Jett Ioane is not the replacement Sasha is expecting. He’s short, sheltered and untested in battle—a poor replacement for the friend Sasha has lost. But Sasha finds him impossibly alluring. A lifetime of alienation and scrutiny has hardened Jett to the friendship and camaraderie necessary for survival. Struggling to find his feet while Sasha sweeps them out from under him, Jett hesitates to entrust the team with his truth.

Will Jett’s secrets be the key to their salvation, or annihilation?

It’s no big secret that I love Science Fiction and Post Apocalyptic books. But I usually also avoid books that are set somewhere really cold. However, the blurb for “Barricade” just sounded too good to ignore. And I’m glad I decided to read this unusual book.

I’ve read countless books that are set in a post apocalyptic world and almost all of them are set in the United States or whatever’s left of them. It seems you need to live in North America to have any chance at surviving the apocalypse. So “Barricade” was a very interesting change of the usual setting. This time, the Russians are the survivors. They built this ginarmous wall, called the Barricade, to keep out all those people who suffer from the plague. I really enjoyed the setting, even though it’s not what I usually prefer.  I could easily imagine the cold and wet and general nastiness of it. It was very well written and diverse, even though we don’t see much of the world other than the Barricade.

I really liked both Sasha and Jett. I liked their relationship and how they behaved around each other. Every character has their own, distinctive voice, even the minor characters. I loved the whole team of District 666 and their interactions. It was also really interesting to see how each tower’s team worked and how different they all were, even though they all lived basically the same life.

The romance and non-romance parts of the plot very well balanced. The love story worked really well with the rest of the plot.

There were quite a few surprises and unexpected plot twists that made it nearly impossible for me to put the book down. I finished it within a couple of days. I would’ve finished it in a single sitting, if not for work interfering. It was all so fascinating and addicting and I really loved the whole story.

As much as I enjoyed the story itself, I was really annoyed with the editing. There were so many spelling mistakes and it was really distracting. I absolutely hate sloppy editing and there just is no excuse for it. If an author expects me to pay money for their book, then I expect them to the very best to make it perfect. I can forgive the occasional typo, but I have a very low tolerance for bad spelling. The author kept switching between “Sasha” and “Sacha”. Spelling your protagonist’s name wrong is a huge no go and it made me really mad. If not for the sloppy editing, I would’ve happily given this book 4.5 stars. But this really took away from my reading experience.

The ending was a bit sudden and kind of left me with the hope for a sequel.

If you’re into post-apocalyptic stories with some romance to spice things up, I think you will enjoy this book. As long as you don’t let yourself get distracted by the sloppy editing.

Cover art by Natasha Snow: The cover looks a little bit generic. I don’t think it really fits the story. The naked guy makes you expect a way steamier story, with a lot less plot. It just doesn’t do this book justice.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book details: ebook, 342 pages

Published December 28th 2017 by Netherwood Press

A MelanieM Review: Genetic Snare (Details #2) by Laura Baumbach

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Betrayal, passion, adventure, primal sex, and a fight to the death.

Mating a 26th century Oracan Bounty Hunter with a 18th century pirate has its little glitches.

Bounty hunter Talos bows to pressure to bring his mate home for the completion of his strict warrior culture’s bonding ritual. Aidan, displaced 18th century Earth pirate— light-fingered, sly, charming and understandably naive about the new world he’s been thrust into— can’t wait. Even if it turns out someone wants him dead. The 26th century looks different, but it turns out to be a lot like his old life!

I will admit that maybe my review is colored by the fact that I’ve waited so, so, so, long for this damn book.  I mean I read the first one back in oh, I don’t know either 2006 or 2007, when it first came out.  Loved it!  I mean there was a ginormous space alien on a hunt who talked like Sam Spade, then an 18th century swashbuckling pirate wooshed out of time and sea (literally) who becomes a naughty, captivating mate, and so much more.  And oh, yes?  Tentacle sex of a sort.

By the end of Details of the Hunt (Details, #1), I was just as ensnared as Aiden was.  Thoroughly hooked on their romance, mating, and Laura Baumbach’s curious couple and her world building.  She then promised us a follow up, because they had mated and there was a ceremony Aiden and Talos had to undertake on Oracan to be official, and there was still potential mysteries floating about. So yes, needed that next story.  All the fans anxiously waited, sent texts, and waited some more.  But the sequel never appeared.  And years went by. I think most of us  probably thought it was forgotten under the stress and pressures of running MLR Press.

So imagine my wonder at seeing that a finished copy was available at MLR.  Be still my heart.  Yes!  Talos and Aiden were back! As was the intergalactic intrigue, the new bonding, the planetary politics,  and all the other wild story threads Baumbach had left swirling around the couple.  So many things to remember that I needed to go back and reread my  paperback copy of the first book as a refresher.  And I’m glad I did. (I’ll review it again soon.)

That’s the only thing that I can see will absolutely confuse people.  This is not a standalone story.  While the author did some back history here, it’s just not enough to completely bring a new reader up to speed.  At certain times, they will feel totally “out to sea” as Aiden still does.  There’s also multiple povs that carry over from the first story, again you need to know who they are and where they fit in with Aiden and Talos.  I’m not sure this book let’s the reader in on those elements with enough depth to make those people as real as they were in Details of the Hunt.

What this story does is give Talos and Aiden their acceptance among the Ocacans and Talos a long awaited homecoming.  You get more of a feel for their society and culture during the highly anticipated bonding rituals (which I wish were extended a little more), and only whetted my curiosity for more of them.  I loved the Oracans I do see, I wanted more of the planet and history,and of the couple after the ceremonies. From those Baumbach gave us, those pieces of Oracan culture, like the inking, were interesting touches that begged for the reader to be let in for more. More time, more information, just more.  I bet Aiden felt that way!

It’s hard to address certain aspects of the story without giving away spoilers. I guess after all this time, I’m just so happy to have it, that my biggest complaint is that there is more of it.  I could have used double the  story.  No real way to be objective on this one.  Maybe after a longer amount of time has passed and I can revisit it again.  Until such a time happens, I’m just so thrilled to have them back.  Just make sure you read the Details of the Hunt first, then onto Genetic Snare.  Lucky you!

Cover art by Spacepixel carries over from the first story which I liked very much.

Sales Links:  MLR Books | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 175 pages
Published November 25th 2017 by MLR Press
ISBN13 9781934531075
Edition Language English
Series Details #2

A Caryn Review: Safety Protocols for Human Holidays by Angel Martinez

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Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Highly recommended as the cutest, funniest bit of holiday fluff I’ve read in a long time!

This sci-fi story is set on an interspecies ship traveling in the distant universe.  For the most part, there is only one of any individual species on the ship.  There is only one human, Jen, and the captain is concerned that she is broken, because she is not “behaving within previously observed species parameters”.  The captain is concerned about the safety and well-being of everyone on the crew, and so he assigns Security Officer Raskli, a Growlan, to investigate the change, to see if she can identify the problem, and fix it.  Why was Raskli chosen for this task?  Because the ship’s doctor said “you are both members of lactating placental species”.  Ha!

Raskli’s investigation into humans, and Jen in particular, is laugh out loud funny.  One of her first observations:

[Humans] ate everything.  It was a wonder than any other life on the planet had survived.

When she thought she had sufficient background, Raskli decided that she should become “friends” – a somewhat unusual concept to ritualistic Growlans – with Jen, and looking for a friendship ritual, followed the interspecies manual instructions for “dating”:

The initiator of the date will sometimes bring a small offering to the domicile of the acceptor.  Angiosperm blooms or boxes of sugar-and-cocoa-bean globs appear to be traditional for one-on-one dates, while offerings of substantial, meal-oriented food or fermented drink are more common for group dates.

This was the most adorable little meet-cute you can imagine.  Raskli’s heart was in the right place despite her awkwardness, so Jen accepted her friending request and the two proceeded to get to know and like each other despite the huge cultural differences.  Since the story is told from Raskli’s point of view, we get the outsiders perspective of humans and their quirks, and the author did a fabulous job of making fun of all the crazy things we do.

When Raskli was able to identify that the holiday season was exacerbating Jen’s feelings of homesickness and loneliness, she decided to put on a ship-wide celebration, and started researching.  In addition to our Western standards like Christmas, Hannukah, and Kwanzaa, she also found references to solstice, yule, saturnalia, rohatsu, and others, and decided to just use them all.  In addition to the “traditional large sacrificial plant” that was “large, possibly radially symmetric, sloping limbs with many sharp spikes.  Looks fierce”, there were “shining spheres” and “glitter snakes”.  I was having so much fun reading how the decorations that have become so commonplace to us might be described by an alien who has never seen anything like them before!

The romance between Raskli and Jen was perfectly sweet.  No other word to describe it!  The story was just the right length, the various alien crew members all existed in almost perfect harmony, and at the end of the story I just couldn’t stop smiling.  I’m going to keep this around to re-read when I need a little happiness!  Brava, Angel Martinez!

Cover art by Freddy MacKay was exactly how I pictured Jen, sitting in front of a window that looked to be straight out of Star Trek:  The Next Generation.  Very appropriate!

Sales Links: Mischief Corner Books | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, First
Expected publication: December 9th 2017 by Mischief Corner Books, LLC
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Julia Review: Ardulum: Second Don (Ardulum #2) by J. S. Fields

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

The Charted Systems are in pieces. Mercy’s Pledge is destroyed, and her captain dead. With no homes to return to, the remaining crew sets off on a journey to find the mythical planet of Ardulum—a planet where Emn might find her people, and Neek the answers she’s long sought. Finding the planet, however, brings a host of uncomfortable truths about Ardulum’s vision for the galaxy and Neek’s role in a religion that refuses to release her. Neek must balance her planet’s past and the unchecked power of the Ardulans with a budding relationship and a surprising revelation about her own genealogy.

Ardulum: Second Don blends space opera elements and hard science into a story about two women persistently bound to their past and a sentient planet determined to shape their future.

Ardulum: Second Don by J. S. Fields is the second book in the Ardulum-series of sci-fi novels. After reviewing the first one, I was curious to see how Neek’s and Emn’s journey would continue.

Just like with the first novel the worldbuilding is very impressive. There is a great variety of different alien species each with their own unique cultural and societal customs, technologies, appearances and ways of communication. Humans in general take a rather backseat role in this one with the plethora of other species able to shine, which I greatly appreciated. Though I’m usually not an avid reader of sci-fi, I could tell that the author put a great deal of work into constructing alien technologies and abilities that seemed plausible and followed clearly defined rules. I also enjoyed the use of gender-neutral pronouns in the case of species that were either officially gender-neutral or separated gender into three different categories.

From the start, I became a fan of Emn and how her character was developing throughout the story. I loved witnessing her maturing into a brave and determined young woman. However, I found that Neek’s character fell a bit short in comparison to Emn’s and was a bit of a step down from the first novel. She had just seemed somewhat more adamant before and at times her motives or line of reasoning would confuse me a bit. The same goes for Nicholas. I wished his own personal motives, troubles and opinions would have come through more. For the most part he felt like the nice guy who was coming along just for the heck of it.

I also had a bit of a problem with the way Neek’s and Emn’s relationship was unfolding. Though they were both clearly attracted to one another, Neek was rather hesitant about dealing with her feelings and openly acknowledging them in front of Emn for quite a while. She claimed that she did not know how to behave towards Emn because of her people worshipping Ardulans like Emn as gods. That just seemed a bit too out of character for me considering Neek’s attitude and behaviour from the first book. Now I don’t mind a slow build up towards a romantic relationship at all. However, I’m not a big fan of “delaying the inevitable”, so to speak, once it comes to the point where the mutual attraction between two characters is obvious not only to the readers but to the characters themselves. On the other hand, I did very much appreciate how open and direct Emn was from the start concerning her interest in Neek – it greatly added to her character for me.

Like in the previous entry, the point of view changes quite a bit between a handful of characters. I rather liked some of the new ones who got introduced like Arik.

All in all, I enjoyed the book though it didn’t capture my interest quite in the same way the first one did. I would definitely recommend this series to fans of sci-fi and space adventures since there is a lot of detailed worldbuilding to be appreciated. Readers looking for some hot, romantic action might want to look elsewhere though.

The cover by Natasha Snow is pretty to look at and the colours certainly pop. However, it strikes me as a bit generic and bland. I’d have preferred it if it featured a more direct connection to the story or art of a particular character instead.

Sales Links:  NineStar Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 278 pages

Published October 9, 2017

by NineStar Press

ISBN: 978-1-947139-95-4

Edition Language: English

Lyn Gala on the Many Expressions of Love and her story ‘Tap-Dancing the Minefields’ (author guest post)

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Tap-Dancing the Minefields by Lyn Gala
DSP Publications
Cover art by Anne Cain

Buy at DSP Publications |  Amazon 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words welcomes Lyn Gala here today on her tour for Tap-Dancing the Minefields. Welcome, Lyn.

 

I write romance, so clearly I’m obsessed with people falling in love or being in love or struggling to make love work.  But sometimes I miss seeing a wide range of love.  In Romeo and Juliet, everyone talks about the young couple, but what about Mercutio’s love for Romeo? 

In Frankenstein, I am obsessed with how much the creature struggles to find brotherly love with all these imperfect people.  For one shining moment, he has it, sitting in a hovel with a blind man who talks to him like an equal, and then the family returns and reveals the truth about the monster’s horrible appearance.  That breaks my heart.  And I maintain that Huck Finn’s redemption comes when he learns to love Jim.

So I want a romantic love interest, but I also want deep, abiding love in all its forms.  Tap-Dancing grew out of that desire. Back in New York, Tank lost too many people he loved.  He took those broken connections and used them as an excuse to run as far and as fast as he could—ending up in the northern wilds of Alaska running supplies to a remote Army base.  Once there, Tank finds himself in the center of an alien conspiracy, a military unit struggling to defend the planet and a group of people who share the sort of camaraderie Tank desperately needs.

Lev is shy with a core of steel and a big heart, and Tank is immediately attracted to him.  But this story is also about Aldrich who is the mentor and father figure Tank needed.  It’s about Brian Hoffer who tried to be the big brother Tank needed and John who actually filled that role. It’s about how these people all love each other, and yes, Lev and Tank are the centerpiece because they have the romantic love, what the Greeks called eros—sexual passion.  And they do have a lot of passion.

But I wrote this with a list of the Greek words for love sitting in front of me.

I love the fact that the Greeks identified a number of different ways that love can develop in the human heart, and I want to explore all of them.  Philia, deep friendship, motivates these people as much as their desire to protect the world.  When Aldrich is talking to John or Deborah, who are technically under him in the chain of command, the ludus, playful love, shows as they tease each other.

These soldiers have agape, a love for all people that drives them to protect others, even when their own lives are at risk. Deborah and her husband show pragma, a deep longstanding love. More than any of my other books, I think this one has a happily ever after in that Lev and Tank develop that pragma by the end.  They have patience for each other, and love that comes from a place of compromise and patience can survive anything.

But more than anything, this is about philautia—self love. Tank hates himself for not being perfect and being helpless to stop evil in the world. Much of this book is about his struggle to forgive himself for being imperfect—for losing friends to a fight he couldn’t hope to win.  He is damaged in ways that only another warrior could recognize, and much of the book is about his struggle to forgive himself and rediscover his philautia because until he can open his heart to himself, he can’t truly allow Lev into it.

I will admit that I am stupidly in love with these characters.  I love how broken and flawed they are and how they keep fighting no matter what.  The love running through these guys isn’t about hearts and flowers. This love is steel and fire.  And sometimes the fire does burn too brightly.

Blurb

Sometimes the fiercest battle a man faces is against himself.

In the hidden alleyways of New York City, George “Tank” Tankersley defeated what he believed were demons. But the victory cost too much. Tank joined the Army in the hope of outrunning the guilt haunting him—only to stumble into a vast and deadly conspiracy, the enemies he’d hoped to never encounter again, and the arms of the brilliant, eccentric scientist tasked with saving humanity.

In a world where the line between dark magic and alien science is thin, Dr. Lev Underwood must reverse engineer recovered alien technology to give humans a fighting chance against the extraterrestrial beings who consider Earth nothing more than a petri dish. His old friend, Colonel Clyde Aldrich, wants to protect Lev from entanglement with the scarred and emotionally volatile young soldier, but Lev cannot help the pull he feels toward Tank. Still, his first loyalty is to the secret government program, and love might have to take a back seat to protecting the world. But if he can find a way, Lev wants both.

Excerpt:

The connecting door opened, and Clyde looked up as John stood in the doorway, silently watching. He had no censure on his face, but he stood as a mute witness as Tank’s cries gradually faded. It took over an hour, but eventually the stiff muscles and hard tremors faded until Tankersley lay limp in Clyde’s arms, either asleep or too worn out to keep grieving. Clyde didn’t fool himself. This was the first step on a long journey. But at least Tankersley had the balls to start down it. Plenty of men could never face their own fears.

“You want to give me a hand?” Clyde asked softly. John moved into the room, a silent shadow as he walked over and knelt down to scoop Tankersley up. He was really out of it. His eyes didn’t even flicker as John lifted him and moved him to the bed.

Clyde sat on the floor feeling nearly as exhausted himself. Watching Tankersley fight through all the pain made his own wounds feel rawer than they had in a while. Losing people. It wasn’t easy. And the officers for whom it became easy weren’t worth spit.

John frowned at him, and Clyde made a production of standing with his stiff knees. Usually he was exaggerating when he talked about his old legs, but Tankersley had put his weight onto Clyde’s left leg, and he had a raging case of pins and needles. Sitting on the edge of the bed, Clyde rubbed his sore leg.

“You guys wouldn’t hurt so much if you weren’t so willing to give your love to so many people,” John commented.

“Yep,” Clyde agreed. They’d talked about it on the gladiator ship—the danger of loving others and the way it stole a man’s soul when those people died. Clyde figured that neither of them needed to talk about it, because both of them had seen their share of men struggling to carry the emotional burdens the world required of them. Really, Lev should have found someone with fewer scars.

Author Bio:

Lynsey “Lyn” Gala started writing in the back of her science notebook in third grade and hasn’t stopped since. Westerns starring men with shady pasts gave way to science fiction with questionable protagonists, which eventually became any story with a morally ambiguous character. Even the purest heroes have pain and loss and darkness in their hearts, and that’s where she likes to find her stories. Her characters seek to better themselves and find the happy (or happier) ending.

When she isn’t writing, Lyn Gala teaches history in a small town in New Mexico. Her favorite spot to write is a flat rock under a wide tree on the edge of the open desert where her dog can terrorize local wildlife. Writing in a wide range of genres, she often gravitates back to adventure and BDSM, stories about men in search of true love and a way to bring some criminal to justice… unless they happen to be the criminal. Find her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/lyn.gala

A MelanieM Release Day Review: The Stark Divide (Liminal Sky #1) by J. Scott Coatsworth

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Some stories are epic.

The Earth is in a state of collapse, with wars breaking out over resources and an environment pushed to the edge by human greed.

Three living generation ships have been built with a combination of genetic mastery, artificial intelligence, technology, and raw materials harvested from the asteroid belt. This is the story of one of them—43 Ariadne, or Forever, as her inhabitants call her—a living world that carries the remaining hopes of humanity, and the three generations of scientists, engineers, and explorers working to colonize her.

From her humble beginnings as a seedling saved from disaster to the start of her journey across the void of space toward a new home for the human race, The Stark Divide tells the tales of the world, the people who made her, and the few who will become something altogether beyond human.

Humankind has just taken its first step toward the stars.

Every now and again, a story comes along that you wish you could give more than the allotted 5 stars.  The Stark Divide by J. Scott Coatsworth is one of those novels. A science fiction saga, the first in a series, it’s giant narrative footprint calls to mind  some of my favorite science fiction authors, from Arthur C. Clarke in it’s clear, forward use of science and up to the creator of Star Trek, Gene Roddenberry, in it’s all inclusive outlook on humanity,  the sweeping scope and incredible imaginative flair of the author makes this story one of the true highlights of my reading year.

Even more amazing after reading the foreword and discovering how close The Stark Divide came to never even being published at all.  What a journey for both author and novel.  That’s also an author’s note not to be missed.

The Stark Divide is separated into three sections starting with Seed, each transitioning with huge steps in human generation (a family), huge growth (an alive IA earth world/ship), and a vision for the human race.  The Earth is an ecological disaster, the humans left barely surviving on the populated livable land masses after the event known as The Burn which killed millions, leaving the rest scrabbling for their existence.  The hope for the human race lies among the stars and the three living world/ generation ships planned for space, of which the 43 Ariadne, or Forever is one.

Coatsworth takes us through the incredible birth of Forever in Seed, the introduction of the people so important to the beginnings of this saga and the foundation of the story.  Everyone and everything in The Stark Divide grabs at your heart, and your mind, engaging both your curiosity, your imagination, and yes,  pulling at our own fears at the potential for ecological disaster going on now.  Beautifully thought out as well as soaring on the author’s on creativity and extrapolation,  don’t be surprised to feel yourself wanting to be a part of this Utopia and then beginning to fear for it when all the ugliness that killed the Earth finds it’s way to Forever.

As I said, this is only the first story in a series.  I can scarcely wait for the next one to be released.  I need to know where the saga goes next.  You will too once this saga has you hooked as thoroughly as it does me.  If you love science fiction,  grab up a copy now and prepare to sink yourself into a world unlike any other.  It’s incredible, thought provoking, highly imaginative, and easily one of the best books of 2017!

Book One of Liminal Sky

Cover art by Aaron Anderson is perfect, a wonderful artistic rendering of parts of Forever.

Sales Links:

DSP Publications (paperback)DSP Publications (eBook) | AmazonBarnes & NobleKobo iBooksGoodreads | 

 

Book Details:

ebook, 284 pages
Expected publication: October 10th 2017 by DSP Publications
ISBN139781635338331
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Liminal Sky #1

A Free Dreamer Review: Trans Liberty Riot Brigade (Brigade #1) by L.M. Pierce

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Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5

How do you fight for who you are, when the government controls what you are?

Andi knows being born an intersex “Transgressor” and then choosing to stay that way, can have lethal consequences. After all, surgical assignment is mandated by law. But she ain’t going to spend her life hiding from the Society, hooked on Flow, and wanking tourists just to make a few bucks. She’s a member of the Trans Liberty Riot Brigade, an underground faction of Transgressors resisting the government’s war on their illegal genitalia.

But it’s not enough to tag their messages on shithouse walls and sniff down the next high. The government has found their headquarters, decimated their ranks, and they’re crushing the resistance. Though Andi might be nothing but a junktard, she embarks on a desperate dash to stay alive and send a call for help before they’re all killed—or worse, surgically assigned.

Andi, together with Brigade leader Elenbar, must get beyond the communications block preventing all radio transmission, which means crossing the seaboard Wall barricading the United Free States borders. It’s designed to keep enemies out and the citizens in, but amid increasing earthquakes and deadly pursuit, Andi will discover there’s a far more dangerous secret hidden deep within the Wall itself.

I’ve recently developed an interest for Science Fiction with non-binary protagonists, so when I saw the blurb for “Trans Liberty Riot Brigade” I just had to read the book. Sadly, it didn’t quite live up to my expectations.

The biggest problem for me was the language. This book is written in dialect all the way through and the author apparently came up with a bunch of new slang words too. At times, it felt like there was a real language barrier for me. There were some characters I didn’t understand at all because of their extreme dialect. Even when I did understand what was being said, it was just extremely jarring.

Maybe it’s because of the language barrier, but for a large part of the book I was simply confused. There was barely any world building or back story for the most part. There was a little bit of a history lesson toward the end, but that wasn’t nearly enough to answer all my questions.

Then there was Andi. I never did warm up to her. She never seemed to actually do anything, unless she had no other choice but to act. And even then, she had to be forced by somebody else. Mostly, she was just complaining and wallowing in self-pity.

That brings me to the next issue: pronouns. Everybody makes such a big deal out of having both male and female bits, and yet all “transgressors” always used female pronouns. It just didn’t ring true to me.

I did like where the story seemed to go toward the end. But it took a long time to get there and the plot was a bit all over the place.

You should be aware that this is a piece of literary/genre fiction. As such, there was barely a hint of romance. Personally, I didn’t mind that one bit. I don’t always need romance and love in my books. The book also has some pretty graphic scenes of drug use. Our MC is a junkie. Also, there are some pretty gory scenes. The gore was a tad too much for me at times, tbh.

This is part one of a new series. While I am sort of interested how this story will continue, I definitely won’t read the rest of the series. The slang was just too thick for me and I formed no real emotional connections to any of the characters. I liked the idea behing “Trans Liberty Riot Brigade”, but I was mostly disappointed by how the book actually turned out. It just wasn’t for me.

The cover by Natasha Snow is lovely. It’s definitely an eye-catcher.

Sales Links:  NineStar Press | Amazon

Book details:

Kindle Edition, 273 pages
Published July 17th 2017 by NineStar Press
ASINB073DPB1PZ
Edition LanguageEnglish

An Alisa Review : Beast of a Time (Hellhound Bound #1) by Misha Paige

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Rating:  4.5 stars out of 5

 

Everyone’s heard stories or songs about being a beast of burden. Well, it’s quite a burden to be a beast, too.

 

Kane isn’t like most people: he’s not human, for one thing. What he is, is exceptional.

 

An event from his past led him to stay on Earth, a planet of people that were often scared and hostile to his kind. Even so, Kane ignored all the hateful things said to him and focused instead on the job he chose to do.

 

That job is everything to him, and it’s his reason for living. When one man shows up—Al, a new hire who keeps smiling at Kane when he should be looking at him with fear and distaste—Kane is faced with a challenge he never expected. He didn’t think anyone would ever truly want him, and to discover that a very sexy, handsome man does indeed want him, shakes Kane to his core.

 

Despite Kane’s best attempt’s at keeping distance between them, he finds himself partnered with Al. Kane knows he needs to push Al away, and he tries. Sort of.

 

Al isn’t scared off like Kane’s former partners, and if he and Kane can survive the fight that’s coming for them, then maybe they’ll have a chance to discover what it means to love.

 

This was a great story and I loved it.  Kane has been helping humans for years and no matter how much he proves himself they continue to be mean or not give him any respect.  All Al want to do is be a good partner to Kane and pay him back for when he was a child.

 

Even though this story is told through Kane’s eye it is easy to see Al’s determination to be a good partner and to his indifference to Kane’s moods.  When Kane accepts Al he knows it goes far deeper than even he thinks Al could know but it seems that Al has the same commitment to him even if he isn’t a hound.  I enjoyed the mystery in this story and how Kane put himself on the line to protect those around him even when they are being jerks and trying to keep him from doing his job.  I am really looking forward to reading more in this series.

 

The cover art by Beany Sparks is great and eye catching.

 

Sales Links: Amazon | B&N  

 

Book Details:

ebook, 82 pages

Published: August 10, 2017 by Rainbow Ninja Press

Edition Language: English

Series: Hellhound Bound #1

A Free Dreamer Review: Dali by E.M. Hamill

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Dalí Tamareia has everything—a young family and a promising career as an Ambassador in the Sol Fed Diplomatic Corps. Dalí’s path as a peacemaker seems clear, but when their loved ones are killed in a terrorist attack, grief sends the genderfluid changeling into a spiral of self-destruction.

Fragile Sol Fed balances on the brink of war with a plundering alien race. Their skills with galactic relations are desperately needed to broker a protective alliance, but in mourning, Dalí no longer cares, seeking oblivion at the bottom of a bottle, in the arms of a faceless lover, or at the end of a knife.

The New Puritan Movement is rising to power within the government, preaching strict genetic counseling and galactic isolation to ensure survival of the endangered human race. Third gender citizens like Dalí don’t fit the mold of this perfect plan, and the NPM will stop at nothing to make their vision become reality. When Dalí stumbles into a plot threatening changelings like them, a shadow organization called the Penumbra recruits them for a rescue mission full of danger, sex, and intrigue, giving Dalí purpose again.

Risky liaisons with a sexy, charismatic pirate lord could be Dalí’s undoing—and the only way to prevent another deadly act of domestic terrorism.

“Dalí” was simply and utterly brilliant. I loved every single second of it. It’s no secret that I’m a lover of SciFi books and I’m glad I started reading space operas a while ago. Otherwise I might have missed out on this seriously amazing book and that would have been a real shame.

The set-up is intriguing. Dalí is a third gender changeling. Essentially, they’re the epidome of genderfluid. Their body can actually change to become male or female. Or they can stay in their neutral state, where they’re neither. For a big part of the book, Dalí leans toward female, for reasons I fully understood. And the idea of changing genders was only the beginning. The author took great care to create a truly fascinating world, full of little details that showed how much care went into creating this setting. The world building was extremely well done and it all felt so natural.

I absolutely loved Dalí right from the beginning. I felt their grief and loss and suffered through their self-destruction with them. It was breathtaking and felt so very genuine it made my heart ache. Dalí is a tough person, but that doesn’t mean they don’t feel fear or pain or grief or doubt.

Now, I’ve always had a thing for the antagonists/villains in books and movies. And E.M. Hamill did a great job of creating a villain the way I like. He’s not completely and utterly evil. His actions actually made sense, in a cruel, twisted kind of way. And the tension between him and Dalí was absolutely sizzling.

Speaking of sizzling: The sex scenes were smoking hot. Incredibly erotic, without being overly detailed. Dalí’s unique body made the whole experience even hotter for me. But the sex wasn’t just there to get the reader hot and bothered, it always furthered the plot. The balance between hot smut and essential plot device was perfect.

There’s so much going on in this book, with so many unexpected twists and turns, it left me completely unable to put down the book. It was full of action and suspense, but also full of feelings. There were more quiet parts of the book, but those were just as addicting as the fast-moving spy parts.

Another thing I loved about this book was how diverse it was. There are so many different types of relationships and genders portrayed. It always felt completely natural to have such diverse characters. The author didn’t get lost in unnecessary terms or explanations, the characters were just there.

Although this book is set in the distant future and the world as we know it no longer exists, the plot touched on many issues we’re facing right now as well. There’s terrorism, human trafficking, drugs, religious extremism, gender identity and so on. It’s not easy to make a space opera feel like it deals with problems of our day and age.

Every lover of good SciFi with a bit of Erotic thrown in should read “Dalí”. I, for one, enjoyed every single second of it and I really, really hope there will be a second part sometime soon. You’ll love it too, trust me.

I like the cover by Natasha Snow. The colours are gorgeous and the space ship looks great. The young man’s face spoils the otherwise great cover a little. I think it would have looked even better without any human on it.

Sales Links:  NineStar Press | Amazon

Book details:

ebook
Published August 7th 2017 by NineStar Press
ISBN139781947139572
Edition LanguageEnglish