A Paul B Review: Breaker (Exile #1) by Kelly Wyre and A.F. Henley

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Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

exile-breaker-coverIn a world of unintended effects, what was supposed to be The Cure, has given a portion of the population side effects.  The government, or what’s left of it, gathers these people.  Either they use them for their own purposes (human lie detectors among others) or keep them locked up for “the public good.”  However, there is this mythical island where the Estranged as they are called can escape to and life free from fear of capture.  But does this island really exist?

Kaeva knows that this island exists.  He’s been living there for the past eight years after twelve years on the streets.  Now thirty-six, he lives a solitary life on the island, away from the city.   When emotional, Kaeva has a tendency to short out electrical equipment.   His touch has even short circuited the brains of fellow humans as Kaeva points out that the brain is a bunch of cells tied together by water and electricity.  He is upset when the island leaders tell him to retrieve the newest “intake” who should be washing ashore soon.

Eddie has been scared of being detected for the past 22 years.  A recent college graduate who majored in English Literature focusing on ancient 20th century comic books.  However, after receiving the Cure, he has been hearing voices in his head.  These voices are of various people who are about to commit a crime.  However, Eddie never knows where these voices come from nor is he able to help any of the victims before it is too late.  Thinking silence is better than these voices he can’t control, Eddie decides to go to his uncle’s place to end his life.  However, on the way to the airport, he believes he’s been scanned and runs.  He meets a stranger who tells him of Exile, a sanctuary for Estranged.  As his original plans are impossible, Eddie figures he might as well go there.  If things don’t work out he can end his life there just as easily.  When he reaches the island, he does not quite know how to deal with the man who has been assigned to transition him into life on Exile.

I liked the combination of Kaeve and Eddie together.  Kaeve is anti-social in part because he wants to be but primarily because he HAS to be.  Eddie is a young, rich (which is unusual for the times) and naïve college graduate who majored in what most of today’s ten year old boys do today—comic books.  Other than the disappearance of his friend (who would be called a horse whisperer), Eddie has not seen life as tough as Kaeve has lived.  Kaeve is scared to death of accidentally killing someone while Eddie doesn’t know whether or not he wants to live.  Eddie wants Kaeve but Kaeve knows that to get close to him is a death sentence.  When Eddie finally touches Kaeve and nothing happens, hope abounds on both sides.  But without a purpose, Eddie still doesn’t know if he wants to live or not.  This is an intriguing opening book to this new series.

The cover art Aisha Akeju is perfect for the book.  It shows the beach where Kaeve is sent to meet Eddie when he first washes ashore on the island.

Sales Link

Purchasing Link to Less Than Three Press

Book Details

EBook, 340 pages

Published:  January 10, 2017 by Less Than Three Press

Edition Language:  English

ISBN:  9781620049334

Series:  Exile

A BJ Review: Withered + Sere (Immemorial Year #1) by T.J. Klune

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Rating:   3 stars out of 5

Withered+Sere3Once upon a time, humanity could no longer contain the rage that swelled within, and the world ended in a wave of fire.

One hundred years later, in the wasteland formerly known as America, a broken man who goes only by the name of Cavalo survives. Purposefully cutting himself off from what remains of civilization, Cavalo resides in the crumbling ruins of the Northern Idaho Correctional Institution. A mutt called Bad Dog and a robot on the verge of insanity comprise his only companions. Cavalo himself is deteriorating, his memories rising like ghosts and haunting the prison cells.

It’s not until he makes the dangerous choice of crossing into the irradiated Deadlands that Cavalo comes into contact with a mute psychopath, one who belongs to the murderous group of people known as the Dead Rabbits. Taking the man prisoner, Cavalo is forced not only to face the horrors of his past, but the ramifications of the choices made for his stark present. And it is in the prisoner that he will find a possible future where redemption is but a glimmer that darkly shines.

The world has died. This is the story of its remains.

Like some DSP stories, this is not actually a romance and there is also no sex. It’s very dark, I knew that going in, violence, death and cannibalism in a barren, brutal wasteland with no laws. But none of those things bothered me in the least. Yet this story was hard for me in some ways, so should say those bits up front.

The beginning didn’t draw me in immediately. If I hadn’t been reading it for review, I’m not sure if I would have continued on because I was just really confused by it. The POV starts out omniscient but moves to being from Cavalo’s third person POV that starts out feeling distant (calling him the man and seeming outside of him) before slipping in closer and more into his head. There are still times later in the book when it almost seemed to slip back towards omniscient. I was actually about 20% in before I started feeling involved with the story.

Another thing that was hard for me is that there are quite a large number of scenes that are sort of dream or flashback or hallucination sequences that move around in time and place. In addition to bringing in backstory, these work to show how messed up the MC’s mind is—an insanity of a sort like when so much has happened that one cannot hold onto their mind. But there were quite a lot of them, some lengthy and involved, and it tended to pull me from the story.

For me, this book read like a nightmare… one where dark, scary, awful things happen but they just don’t fully make sense and then I wake up and still can’t put it all together and am left unsettled, confused, and shaking my head. That was how I felt at the end of this story. Perhaps some small part of this has to do with the cliffhanger ending but also to be perfectly honest, must admit that sometimes I felt lost.

Those things being said, this book has some fascinating post-apocalyptic world-building going on! While I didn’t feel a strong connection with the main characters, I did find both Bad Dog and the robot SIRS interesting and compelling. In fact, I think my favorite chapter of the book was “the ballad of bad dog.” When I read that title, I was so hesitant to read on as I know ballads are often tragic. But it actually not only tells the story of how Bad Dog came to Cavelo, but contains the most tender scene of the whole story.

It was my first read from this author, so I had no idea what to expect and tend to think after having read some blurbs and reviews from other stories, that it’s not representative of his work in general but rather a branching out into new areas.

The cover by Paul Richmond just absolutely creeps me out (and not in a good way)… luckily I had not seen it prior to requesting the story or might have had second thoughts. I’m not sure how exactly it relates to the story other than giving an impression of its awful, bleak world.

Overall, cover and story alike leave me with the feeling like awaking from a disjointed and unsettling nightmare. A nightmare that I will be compelled to revisit when book two comes out.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon


Book Details:  

ebook, 280 pages
Published April 19th 2016 by DSP Publications
Original TitleWithered + Sere
ISBN 1634765575 (ISBN13: 9781634765572)
Edition LanguageEnglish

T.J. Klune Is Here on Release Day for Withered + Sere (Immemorial Year #1) (guest post and excerpt)

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Withered+Sere3

Withered + Sere (Immemorial Year #1) by T.J. Klune
DS
P Publications
Cover Art by Paul Richmond

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have T.J. Klune here today to share his thoughts on writing, and the release of his latest novel, Withered + Sere.  Welcome, T.J.

✍✍✍✍✍

When I started writing Withered + Sere, I knew that what would make or break the book would be the secondary characters. Given that W+S contains the largest cast of characters I’ve ever written, the book would die a quick and violent death if those characters weren’t memorable and unique.

Aside from the two leads, there is one character that is in almost every scene in W+S and it’s sequel, Crisped + Sere, and that’s Cavalo’s mutt, the aptly named Bad Dog. The relationship between Cavalo and Bad Dog is almost as much of the heart of the novel as is the love story between the two main characters. Bad Dog is more than a constant companion to Cavalo. He’s also a sign that Cavalo’s mind might not be as it once was, as you’ll see from the excerpt below. W+S and it’s follow up deal with the ideas of what is real and what isn’t, how far the depths of insanity can go, and the bonds that ties us all together.

This scene takes place at the beginning of the book, and serves as an introduction to the relationship between a man and his dog.

*****

The doe had made it farther than Cavalo would have thought. The blood trail led them to the edge of the woods. Beyond the stunted forest lay the remains of a massive old road, broken into pieces, chunks of black rock upended. Cavalo knew this was called a “freeway” in the Time Before. People used these roads for travel in motor cars. He’d seen the remains, the burnt-out husks of these motor cars, dead as the area around them. No one could remember how they worked, only that they had been. There had been rumors years ago that someone in the east had a working motorized car, but it had never appeared.

Long distances in such short time. It seemed impossible.

Now this freeway meant something different. It was a line. A division. One that was foolish to cross. To cross was to go west. To go west meant to enter the Deadlands.

Cavalo looked at the blood trail on the ground. Fresh drops at his feet. Away from the forest he knew.

Onto the freeway.

Across the freeway. Into the other side of the woods. West.

“Shit,” he whispered.

Shit, Bad Dog agreed, sitting next to the man.

He couldn’t just let the deer go. She was fat, which was surprising. Good, but surprising. Cavalo didn’t think her pregnant, not with the deformities she had, but she had to have come from somewhere herself, so it was possible. But if she wasn’t, it would be enough meat to last weeks. He could avoid the town. He could avoid the people. Hank and Alma would be worried about him, he knew, but he’d been gone for longer. What had it been now? Three months? It couldn’t be that long, could it? They would understand. They always did.

“What do you think?” he asked.

Bad Dog rose from his haunches and sniffed at the blood again. If we do it, we must be quick. Like the wind.

“Yeah,” Cavalo muttered. “Like the wind.” He looked across the freeway again. It looked no different than the forest behind him. But it was different, he knew. Far different.

The first deer in weeks. Probably just over the road. Right into the tree line. “Probably already dead,” the man said aloud. “Just waiting for us.”

Dead, dead, dead, the dog said, rubbing against him.

“We get in and get out.”

Like we were never there.

“They won’t even know.”

No one will. In and out.

“You ready?”

Bad Dog yipped and watered a dusty bush. I pissed, he said proudly. That bush is mine. Now I’m ready.

The man nodded. “Let’s go.” He hesitated only for a second….

… and stepped onto the freeway.

Bad Dog immediately followed, his toenails clicking against the broken road, nose to the ground against the blood trail. Cavalo looked from side to side, scanning the tree line ahead of him. The shadows were beginning to lengthen. Nothing moved among the trees aside from the birds, calling their songs as loudly as they did on the other side of the freeway. It looked the same. It looked exactly the same.

But it felt so very different.

The man felt it even as he put one foot in front of another. There was a chill here that had nothing to do with the mute sky overhead. It was darker, the trees more dense and stark. The air felt thicker, as if pressing into a barrier that shouldn’t be crossed. He looked down and saw the blood trail, still bright and fresh. He looked back up into the woods, searching for movement.

Only the birds.

He stepped off the freeway and slid down the shallow bank. Bad Dog jumped down behind him, bumping into the back of Cavalo’s legs. They almost fell.

Sorry, Bad Dog said, looking embarrassed.

“It’s okay,” he said quietly, adjusting his back. He tried not to think of the last time he’d crossed the freeway. It was almost impossible to do on this side. He could hear their voices, somewhere far off, calling for him, lost in the haze. The man named Cavalo believed his dog could speak to him and didn’t know it was his fortieth birthday, but he most certainly did not believe in ghosts. Even if he could hear them.

Bad Dog went to the tree line, following the blood trail. He reached the trees and looked back at Cavalo, his tail still, ears perked. Coming? he asked, unaware of the other voices.

Which means they aren’t real, the man thought. Sweat dripped down his forehead. He wiped it away. He thought of the bow. It didn’t seem to be enough. Not with what was on this side of the woods. Not with what they could do.

He unclipped the rifle from his pack. It felt heavy in his hands. He checked the chamber. Loaded. Sight was clear. Safety off.

Bad Dog watched him, eyeing the gun warily. He did not like the noise that came from it. Too loud, he said, flattening his ears. Hate the boomstick. Hate it. Hate it.

Cavalo nodded. “Can’t be helped. Not this time.”

Bad Dog sighed but said nothing. He turned and trotted into the trees.

They aren’t real, the man thought, because he didn’t believe in ghosts.

He followed the dog into the woods.

Withered + Sere Blurb

Once upon a time, humanity could no longer contain the rage that swelled within, and the world ended in a wave of fire.Withered+Sere3

One hundred years later, in the wasteland formerly known as America, a broken man who goes only by the name of Cavalo survives. Purposefully cutting himself off from what remains of civilization, Cavalo resides in the crumbling ruins of the North Idaho Correctional Institution. A mutt called Bad Dog and a robot on the verge of insanity comprise his only companions. Cavalo himself is deteriorating, his memories rising like ghosts and haunting the prison cells.

It’s not until he makes the dangerous choice of crossing into the irradiated Deadlands that Cavalo comes into contact with a mute psychopath, one who belongs to the murderous group of people known as the Dead Rabbits. Taking the man prisoner, Cavalo is forced not only to face the horrors of his past, but the ramifications of the choices made for his stark present. And it is in the prisoner that he will find a possible future where redemption is but a glimmer that darkly shines.

The world has died.

This is the story of its remains.

Sales Links

Dreamspinner Press Publications | Amazon

About the Author

When TJ Klune was eight, he picked up a pen and paper and began to write his first story (which turned out to be his own sweeping epic version of the video game Super Metroid—he didn’t think the game ended very well and wanted to offer his own take on it. He never heard back from the video game company, much to his chagrin). Now, over two decades later, the cast of characters in his head have only gotten louder. But that’s okay, because he’s recently become a  full-time writer, and can give them the time they deserve.

Since being published, TJ has won the Lambda Literary Award for Best Gay Romance, fought off three lions that threatened to attack him and his village, and was chosen by Amazon as having written one of the best GLBT books of 2011.

And one of those things isn’t true.

(It’s the lion thing. The lion thing isn’t true.)

Facebook: TJ Klune

Blog: tjklunebooks.blogspot.com

E-mail: tjklunebooks@yahoo.com

Withered + Sere Blog Tour:

  • April 12 – MM Good Book Reviews
  • April 13- My Fiction Nook
  • April 18 – Just Love Romance
  • April 19 – Divine Magazine
  • April 19 – Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
  • April 19 – The Novel Approach
  • April 20 – Kimi-chan Experience
  • April 21 – It’s About the Book
  • April 21 – Love Bytes
  • April 22 – Prism Book Alliance

A MelanieM Review: Cardinal Sins (Hidden Gems #2) by Lissa Kasey

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Cardinal Sins coverParis Hansworth, star whore turned senator and the most powerful man in City M, has been hiding his terminal illness for years. Searching for a way to reverse the toxic environment that’s killing him, Paris stumbles upon a lost research facility, and a merman named Rain.

Years alone have made Rain long for companionship, and the beautiful man on the other side of the glass intrigues him. But Rain speaks the wrong language, and is decades out of touch. He isn’t quite sure what to think of the new environment he’s been thrust into.

As a virus spreads through the city targeting City M’s most private residents—A-Ms—Paris realizes he’s out of time. He’s willing to sacrifice everything, even his own life, to stop it. But Rain might just be the missing DNA link to explain the mutations created in the last plague, maybe even the cure.

Watching Paris race to save his friends, Rain knows he’s found someone special and will do anything to stay by his side. But the past Paris thought he’d escaped is seeking revenge, and he’s forced to adapt yet again, possibly even becoming a monster. He only hopes Rain will still want him.

Hidden Gems, the first novel in this series, was also my first introduction to this wonderful author.  That story, a dystopian novel full of dark flights of fancy, fallen chemically engineered angels of your nightmares and so much more captured both my mind and my heart.  Now Lissa Kasey has returned to that pain, disease wracked world with a new story Cardinal Sins and I am more than delighted with what she has  delivered.

Hidden Gems is the name of a fancy whore house in City M, operated by Paris Hansworth.  A former whore, turned powerful senator and businessman, Paris has found a long abandoned gambling casino called the Cardinal Sins (think along the lines of Las Vegas, maybe it is Las Vegas, we never know) on the outskirts of the city.   Paris intends to bring the Cardinal Sins back to life, including the major feature of enormous fish tanks with tunnels that go from gambling hall to hall throughout the looming old construction.  No matter there may be no more salt water fish to fill it after the disaster, still Paris has plans and only a short amount of time in which to complete them.

The power of Kasey’s stories lies not only in her plots but in her almost magnetic descriptions that, from scene to scene, make you lean closer and closer towards your tablet, pulling you towards the story…into the story itself.  From the eerie feel of the gambling hall to the icy cavernous research lab where mysterious things flashed behind dirty glass walls, I felt I needed to be there.  Don’t be surprised to find yourself nose to nose with your Kindle in no time!  Her images filled my mind, dancing there, long after the story was finished.

Kasey picks up her story after the events of Hidden Gems, so it does help to have  read that story.  Why? Well, the first book is a wonder and should be read. But also because no matter how much background the author gives you here it can not give you all the intricacies of the politics, or the layers of the events that took place for you to get the full picture.  You will enjoy it, don’t get me wrong. But you will love it more with more knowledge about the people, places, and their relationships.  Plus that first book is so good you just need to read it.

In Cardinal Sins, Kasey expands on her initial (and beautifully done) world building to go beyond the chemically engineered A-M’s, people cruelly experimented on by the government for weapons warfare and extends her universe into something new.  I won’t include any spoilers but it is a natural progression and one I thought was so smart to include here.  I hope she goes further with this element in the next  story or stories because its such a great one and has so much potential as far as characters and plot.  We still have people that turn into wolves, big cats, winged taloned beings and now a whole buried research facility designated towards sea creatures. Its a great mixture of all the old and new  elements here, blending into a great new dynamic.  This is fluidity is wonderful in a story where the atmosphere and environment is toxic, the chemical nature of the population is unstable and nothing is certain, not even their form.  Just wonderful.

Lissa Kasey’s characters are more than a match for her narrative.  I love Paris, such a complicated man.  Here he has never been so  vulnerable then here at the end of his life as the virus is taking hold and killing him.  Its heartbreaking to all around him. This includes Rain and Paris because of the new plans Paris formed, especially when he finds Rain under all that ice and Paris doesn’t think he will have time to complete his plans for him.  That’s another astounding piece of this story I won’t spoil for you. How I loved that element of this story.  Magic!  Rain holds so many mysteries within his tank, including that of his origin.  That is not completely solved during this story…a thread I hope to follow to another book.  Other characters from the previous story return. Aki and his mate,a private investigator as well as Candy, a whore without boundaries finds that he may have a new role in life and someone to love after all.  Kasey remembers all her characters and keeps them in play at all times.  She also continues to add several more important ones, beings I can  wait to see again in a new novel.

Romance and relationships.  Its there and probably more subtle than you might expect when dealing with a book full of whores and whore houses.  There is talk of whipping and knot work but that’s it, talk.  There is romance and love but its on equal par with the action, and suspense and mystery.  There are so many elements here.  Assassination, plague, military experimentation on children…so yes, romance and love is so desperately needed when things get so dark and deadly. Love and hope.   Lissa Kasey remembers to give us and her characters both. Eventually.

If you are looking for hot, hot sex, this is probably not the book for you.  But if you are looking for mystery, outstanding world building, suspense, a little heartbreak, and yes, romance, wrapped up in a dystopian thriller, than I think you should look no further than Lissa Kasey’s  Hidden Gems series.  Start with Hidden Gems and run direct here and start reading Cardinal Sins.  Rain and Paris will make their way into your heart!  I can’t wait to see where this series is going next.

I highly recommend them both.

Cover artist Shobana Appavu delivers a gorgeous cover.  interesting and in tune with the story.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | ARe | Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 290 pages
Expected publication: November 13th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN13 9781634765817
edition language English
Hidden Gem (Hidden Gem, #1)

 

A BJ Review: Dark Space (Dark Space #1) by Lisa Henry

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Rating:  5 stars out of 5   ★★★★★

Dark Space coverBrady Garrett needs to go home. He’s a conscripted recruit on Defender Three, one of a network of stations designed to protect the Earth from alien attack. He’s also angry, homesick, and afraid. If he doesn’t get home he’ll lose his family, but there’s no way back except in a body bag.

Cameron Rushton needs a heartbeat. Four years ago Cam was taken by the Faceless—the alien race that almost destroyed Earth. Now he’s back, and when the doctors make a mess of getting him out of stasis, Brady becomes his temporary human pacemaker. Except they’re sharing more than a heartbeat: they’re sharing thoughts, memories, and some very vivid dreams.

Not that Brady’s got time to worry about his growing attraction to another guy, especially the one guy in the universe who can read his mind. It doesn’t mean anything. It’s just biochemistry and electrical impulses. It doesn’t change the truth: Brady’s alone in the universe.

Now the Faceless are coming and there’s nothing anyone can do. You can’t stop your nightmares. Cam says everyone will live, but Cam’s probably a traitor and a liar like the military thinks. But that’s okay. Guys like Brady don’t expect happy endings.

Lovely sci-fi story. Intriguing premise, wonderful writing that dragged me right into the action and didn’t let me go. Awesome world-building. But overall it was the characters that blew me away. Such nuance! The telepathy between the two main characters was handled beautifully. Cam’s face and reputation had drilled into Brady’s mind. But everyone had given him up for dead. Now he’s not only back among the living, but connected to Brady. In his head. Heart beats synced. But really… imagine having to share your head with a sexy, poster boy soldier emerging from a traumatic experience that you yourself could never have endured.

For me, this story showed so clearly how two people often react so completely differently to the same experience. How they handle it and deal with it in ways that the other may even find hard to understand. While one person may come through an event mostly unscathed and may even look back and see the positives that came from it, another may come away severely damaged.  Cam came through the traumatic events with Kai-Ren and the faceless, but Brady clearly would not have been able to do the same.

Despite the dark elements of this story (prior non-con for both main characters, scary, no terrifying, aliens, and even the death of secondary character) and the dismal dystopian world in which it’s set, the relationship that develops between these two MCs is amazingly sweet and their sex nurturing as well as sizzling hot. The angst was handled perfectly.

For those who don’t believe in gay-for-you, give this one a try. It might change your mind. That element was excellently handled. I thoroughly enjoyed the fact that Brady didn’t have any lengthy self-hating, but analyzed and accepted what he was feeling. Heck, every element was excellently handled. This was a stunning story—I couldn’t have asked for anything more. Well, yes, I could. I want more! And luckily, the author seems to have heard our cry as book two, Darker Space, is out now. Look for my review here soon.

The cover set’s the theme perfectly as m/m sci-fi… the darker, muted colors work perfect for the novel’s tone. The model is exactly how I had pictured the main character Brady.

Sales Links:   Loose id LLC | ARe | Amazon | Buy It Here


Book Details:

ebook, 216 pages
Published December 4th 2012 by Loose Id, LLC
original titleDark Space
ISBN139781623001124
seriesDark Space #1

Dark Space
Darker Space (Dark Space)