In Our High Fantasy Showcase: The Shadow Mark (Lords of Davenia #2) by Mason Thomas (author interview)

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The Shadow Mark (Lords of Davenia #2) by Mason Thomas
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reamspinner Press
Cover Designer: Maria Fanning

Available for Purchase from

           
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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Mason Thomas here today to talk about writing, characters and his latest release, The Shadow Mark. Welcome, Mason.
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~Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interviews Mason Thomas~

How much of yourself goes into a character?

An intriguing question, and the answer isn’t easy to peg down since character development doesn’t always occur on a conscious level. It’s impossible to not put yourself into your characters to some extent since it is your own experiences that you draw from. You cannot escape your own brain, and little aspects of yourself are going to infiltrate your characters. None of my characters are ever “me” per se. They just tap into various facets of my personality.

At times, you need to be deliberate about it. To generate authentic reactions to the events in your story, you have to draw from your personal experiences and extrapolate what the feelings and responses would be. Auraq Greystone, the main character in The Shadow Mark, is the least like me in terms of personality. He’s brooding and ill-tempered, and isn’t into talking about his feelings. This made him a challenge to write—in a good way. I had to dig deep into some dark history at times to channel him properly.

I will say there are times however that a character comes onto the scene and I have no idea where he or she came from. They arrive fully formed and announce who they are with utter certainty. It’s as if they’ve already received an early draft and are merely showing up to perform their part, and I’m only there to record them in the scene. I’ve even tried to direct them, and say, no I’d like you to be more “this.”  They grin back at me, and then do what they’re going to do anyway, whether I like it or not.


Do you feel there’s a tight line between Mary Sue or should I say Gary Stu and using your own experiences to create a character?

You have to be mindful of that line, certainly. I’m very intentional when creating a character not use myself as a template. Like I said in the previous question, you can’t escape your thoughts and your own experiences, but characters also take on their own distinct traits and personalities through the writing process. They evolve their own identities, and you cannot fight against that.  You are not the character—you are only channeling them, recording their words and actions.

You also have to embrace the weaknesses and negative qualities of your characters. It’s good if your main character makes a mistake, or says the wrong thing, or makes a mess of something. Readers have to see that a character can fail. There’s a looming fear that bad behavior will make your character unlikeable, but what it can do is makes them believable—and if the reason behind the bad behavior fits their history or circumstances, it makes them sympathetic too.

Does research play a role into choosing which genre you write?  Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your worlds and cultures?

I enjoy the world building aspect of writing speculative fiction. I like the “sandbox” nature of being able to construct the world and establish the rules that exist within it.  I pull from real world events, cultures and experiences, but since the world is of your own design, there isn’t a danger of getting the facts wrong. You just have to make certain that your world make sense, and you don’t break your own rules. This means that much my research is for generating ideas.

Sadly, I cannot escape real research, however. Do I enjoy it? No. But it’s a necessary evil. Smaller details—like how a barrel is constructed, or how a mill works to grind flour—have to be right. A detail you’ve gotten wrong is an insipid little imp that can easily escape your notice if you’re not careful, and it can turn your reader against you if they catch it. Combat is the area that I probably invested the most time researching a topic. I’ve even taken longsword classes to learn how to move, and how the body feels and reacts during combat. That was my favorite kind of research. If you’ve never taken a sword-fighting class, it’s seriously fun and I recommend it for everyone.

Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing?

The irony is I wasn’t always a great reader as a kid. I have a slow reading speed, and being ADHD, I had a difficult time remaining focused long enough on a book to finish it. I lost interest very easily. The very first novel I read on my own from cover to cover was The Hobbit. I was in sixth grade. I was instantly hooked. Something about the escapism of fantasy (and science fiction as well) and the notion of a completely different world, connected with my overactive brain and dynamic inner life like nothing ever had before. I’ve been obsessed with speculative fiction ever since.   

Today, I write the stories I wish had existed when I was growing up—fantasy adventures with gay heroes.

 

Have you ever had to put an ‘in progress’ story aside because of the emotional ties with it?  You were hurting with the characters or didn’t know how to proceed?

More the opposite. I use my own emotional connection to a story as a barometer. If I’m not feeling emotional as I write it, then it’s not connecting for some reason and I have to shelf it until I figure out what it’s missing. I’ve not yet reached a topic that cut too deeply, as it were, that it forced me to put it aside.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

This entirely depends on the story being told and the characters that occupy it.

Do you read romances, as a teenager and as an adult?

I tend to not pick up novels that identify as “romance” alone. I choose the ones that overlap into speculative fiction. For me, as both a writer and a reader, I like it when the love story exists along with a larger context, and the two work in concert. The speculative elements shouldn’t be just a backdrop for the romance, but play a part in bringing the people together.  And speculative stories without a romance feel incomplete. The romance brings an authenticity to the story because connecting with others is a part of life that shouldn’t be ignored.

Who do you think is your major influence as a writer?  Now and growing up?

Hard to narrow this one down. I’ve been influenced by so many amazing writers over the years. Tolkien, of course, since he was my first introduction to speculative fiction. Anne McCaffrey, Brain Jacques, Piers Anthony and Stephen King to name a few more. Each of these authors has a magic about them that I’ve always revered—the ability to pull me so completely into their world. However, my primary influence as a writer has been Isaac Asimov, a writer from the golden age of science fiction. He was incredibly prolific, writing five-hundred books in his lifetime—but still took the time to type a personalized note to a thirteen-year-old fan boy who wrote him a letter with a pointless and annoying question. Twice.  I’ve always thought that was incredibly gracious of him. I have always been drawn to his intellect, and his humor, and his devotion to his craft. Many of his quotes are on my favorites list, but one quote has had a great impact on me as a writer: “I made up my mind long ago to follow one cardinal rule in all my writing—to be clear.”

How do you choose your covers?  (curious on my part)

Choosing a cover is terribly difficult and stressful for me. I want it to emote the tone of the book, I want it to be visually striking, and I want it to be sexy. I also want it to be original and stand out. That’s a lot of boxes I need it check off. I perseverate on the tiniest details, because once I’ve chosen the cover, it is forever connected to that work. I’m sure I drive the artist a little insane. Can you change the font? Can you move my name up just a little? Can you bring a little more color into it? I applaud their patience. 

The cover of The Shadow Mark, which was designed by Maria Fanning, is astounding and I couldn’t be happier with the result. It has everything I wanted. I think it exudes the strength of my main character, Auraq Greystone, it has a compelling look that draws you in, and it connects well to my previous cover as well.

Do you have a favorite among your own stories?  And why?

Short answer—no.  They are all deeply personal to me for different reasons, and to select one over another is impossible. If I’m not fully drawn in to my own story, I’m not compelled to write it and it doesn’t get finished. My favorite project tends to be the one I’m currently working on.

What’s next for you as an author?

Juggling quite a few projects right now. I’ve recently finished a new young adult fantasy novel that I’ve very excited about. It’s the first in what I hope to be a series, with multiple young LGBTQ characters. My goal for this was to create a world where the LGBTQ characters are admired and respected, and are the heroes of the kingdom.  I’m in the process of editing it now, and hope to send it out this summer. I’m writing another romance/fantasy that takes place in a different world than the Lords of Davenia series. I’m also in the planning stages of creating a sequel for Lord Mouse.

Blurb

Auraq Greystone, once a military officer with a promising future, exists on the fringe of society. Accused of murder, Auraq is on the run from the ax—until two fugitives crash into his solitary life. One is a young man named Kane. The glowing marks on his arm pulse with an otherworldly power, and they have made him the target of a sinister organization called the Order of the Jackal. When the old man protecting Kane dies in an ambush, Auraq swears an oath to take his place.

But the runes are far more significant than they realize. They are a message from the shadow realm, a dark memory of the past—one holding evidence of a bloody massacre and its savage architect; one that will shake the kingdom to its foundation. Risking arrest and execution, Auraq fights to get Kane to the capital city where the cryptic marking can be unlocked.  And with assassins close on their trail, Auraq might never get the chance to show Kane what’s in his heart—or the way their journey together has changed him.

The Shadow Mark is an epic tale of magic, murder, conspiracy, betrayal, and—for the two men tasked with unraveling the mystery—love and redemption.

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Mason Thomas AUTHOR BIO:

Mason Thomas began his writing journey at the age of thirteen when his personal hero, Isaac Asimov, took the time to respond to a letter he wrote him. He’s been writing stories ever since. Today he is ecstatic and grateful that there is a place at the speculative table for stories with strong gay protagonists.


Mason, by all accounts, is still a nerdy teenager, although his hairline and waistline indicate otherwise. When his fingers are not pounding furiously at a keyboard, they can usually be found holding a video-game controller, plucking away at an electric guitar, or shaking a twenty-sided die during a role-playing game. Mason will take any opportunity to play dress-up, whether through cosplay, Halloween, or a visit to a Renaissance Faire. He pays the bills by daring middle school students to actually like school and encouraging them to make a mess in his science classroom. He lives in Chicago with his endlessly patient husband, who has tolerated his geeky nonsense for nearly two decades, and two unruly cats who graciously allow Mason and his husband to share the same space with them.

 
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A Free Dreamer Review: To Catch A Threeve by Alexis Duran

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

To Catch a ThreeveAxel Blackwood catches a thief and is astounded to see that he closely resembles Liam Alloway, the love he lost seven years ago in an attack by the evil woodland folk known as threeves. Axel suspects he’s fallen prey to dark magic, but can’t help becoming infatuated with his prisoner. He’s overwhelmed with the hope that he can at last bring his lost lover home, despite everything that warns him it’s all a diabolical trick.

Bryn Darrow, the half-threeve, half human orphan sent to trick Axel and rob him of much more than a simple gem finds himself equally as fascinated with his handsome human captor and the lure of someplace to call home, but he knows deep down that the constable is in love with a dangerous illusion. When he’s commanded by the threeves to murder Axel and steal a witch’s powerful grimoire, he’s forced to decide between the only family he’s ever known and the one person who might rescue him from a life of isolation and pain.

Will Axel and Bryn be forced into a deadly confrontation before they can discover the truth?
Axel is still mourning Liam, the man he loved, seven years after his death. He wholly dedicated his life to the fight against the threeves, the beings who killed Liam and has given up on ever finding love again, but he’s mostly come to terms with his loss. One day he catches a half-threeve, who looks just like Liam. But Liam is dead, so this has to be some cruel magical trick.
Bryn is said half-threeve, sent out to bring down the dangerous threeve-killer. That turns out to be much harder than he thought, because Axel is not some cruel, mindless killer.

What follows is a journey full of intrigues and secrets, uncovering lies and deception.

“To Catch a Threeve” has an interesting premise, with a completely new species. The threeves reminded me of elves, with their pointy ears and small stature. But they had their unique features as well, like the skin that looks like tree bark. I love it when authors invent new species, so I was thrilled with the threeves.

Overall, the plot was a little predictable. About halfway through I’d figured out half the mysteries. It was still interesting to read about the MCs figuring it all out in their own way, though.

While the threeves were very well developed, the world building as a whole was a little lacking. There’s talk about different religions, but the author doesn’t really give us an explanation. The most common religion frowns on homosexuality, while the second mentioned religion seems to embrace every form of love freely.

The taboo of homosexuality created an additional layer of tension, but it wasn’t overdone. The MCs are fine with their sexuality and don’t face any extreme homophobia.

To sum it up, “To Catch A Threeve” was a mostly enjoyable story, with an interesting new species. The ending was predictable and some more world building wouldn’t have hurt. If you’re looking for a quick fantasy read with a healthy dose of romance, then this is definitely a book for you. If you’re looking for a well thought out universe and a unique plot however, you will be disappointed.

Cover Art: Fiona Jayde created a very appealing cover. The colours work really well together and I like the mysterious look of it.

Sales Links:  Loose id  |  All Romance (ARe) | Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details:

122 pages
Published October 28th 2014 by Loose Id
(first published October 20th 2014)
ISBN139781623005375
edition languageEnglish

 

A MelanieM YA Review: The Oracle’s Sprite (The Oracle #4) by Mell Eight

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Rating:  3.75 stars out of 5

Cover - The Oracles FlameAt just eighteen years of age, Keir became the leader of the army fighting against the usurper king while Princes Edan and Egan led the navy. At his side, willing to help from time to time, was Sprite.

A friendly ghost, Sprite likes to keep Keir company and occasionally play tricks on Keir’s sister. When the Oracle demands Keir’s presence, he expects Sprite to travel with him.

He doesn’t expect the gale that knocks him overboard and into an adventure that might just kill him.

The Oracle’s Sprite adds in the Dragon of the Air to Mell Eight’s imaginative, and wonderful Oracle series.  As with each book, the present Oracle is rebuilding her pantheon of elemental dragons.  Most of the elemental Castes have lost their way, fallen to madness or self preservation, their Dragons gone missing or not found one to be “chosen” to be reborn. The Oracle needs that to change in order to restructure their guilds to better serve the kingdom of Altnoia and deliver it from the dark times ahead.  So the Oracle’s been arranging the Dragons return, manipulating matters , sometimes brutally at the cost to the various Dragons to be, at least that what they  see at the time.  So far, we seen the return of The Dragon of Flame, The Dragon of Ether, and the Dragon of Earth.  Now comes the Dragon of Air.

Our introduction to The Oracle’s Sprite is somewhat different than the rest.  A castle hold has been invaded by a false king’s men and their are killing its inhabitants.  A young boy wakes and manages to steal away with his baby sister. Its a brief introduction to the perilous times and places this book’s timeline exactly along side all the other books. What we don’t start with is the dragon.  Not at first.  That comes a little later and it comes in clues. What Mell Eight gives us is clues, lovely, descriptive clues that pile up everywhere as to who the Dragon of the Air is.  Yes, when he appears, the reader will go “oh, there you are”, but its appearance is welcoming instead of frustrating.

Sometimes  some of my most favorite elements in a Oracle story are the smallest ones.  In this story its the description of the pattern that appears on the Dragon of the Air’s back when he walks out of the Testing Chamber.

“..he emerged from the testing chamber, his hair had paled to pure white and the Dragon of Air was tattooed on his back.

The dragon was formless. His back might have still looked blank if it weren’t for the slightest blurring of the skin, as if an invisible wind was forever etched there.  The Oracle could see a pair of eyes hidden there, as well as a pair of clear wings attached at to a massive body.  She knew where to look  to find the Dragon…”

The Dragon that the boy would turn into as The Dragon of the Air.  I have always loved the idea of tattoos that come alive.  Here the tattoo and the boy are one in the same, two forms, one being.  But its the boy that we will meet first.

Keir and Sprite are the only fully formed characters in the story, there are other minor interesting characters but they don’t get enough time within the plot to make them as multidimensional as they should be.  Still, within the short scenes they appear in, this character is powerful and certainly scary.  I just think the story lost depth by not including more of this character role and reasoning (if any).

While Keir and Sprite are in a sexual relationship (parts that have a funny aspect to it), there is little to no sex n the story, to the point that you could label this a YA story.  Its high adventure, young love, dragons, pirates and a fight for a kingdom.  Come on, who doesn’t love that?  For me, that never gets old.

I did find it ended a little too abruptly, in fact, that has been my main complaint with every book of the series.  All the endings just seem a little rushed.  But Mell Eight’s creativity, her world building and, darn it all, her fabulous imagination that conjured up these Dragons, the Oracle and that Mountain.  Well,  that’s amazing, and now I can’t wait for the next dragon to appear.  That would be The Dragon of Water.  Roll it out, Mell Eight!  You have me on air!

Cover art by London Burden.  The Dragon of the Air is a  tough dragon to portray but  since most of the harrowing scenes take place at sea, this is a fitting image.

Sales Links:  Less Than Three  |   All Romance (ARe) | Amazon | Pre order now Amazon links to follow later Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook
Expected publication: September 30th 2015 by Less Than Three Press

A Stella Review: The Lightning-Struck Heart by T.J. Klune

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5    ★★★★★

The Lightning Struck Heart coverOnce upon a time, in an alleyway in the slums of the City of Lockes, a young and somewhat lonely boy named Sam Haversford turns a group of teenage douchebags into stone completely by accident.

Of course, this catches the attention of a higher power, and Sam’s pulled from the only world he knows to become an apprentice to the King’s Wizard, Morgan of Shadows.

When Sam is fourteen, he enters the Dark Woods and returns with Gary, the hornless gay unicorn, and a half-giant named Tiggy, earning the moniker Sam of Wilds.

At fifteen, Sam learns what love truly is when a new knight arrives at the castle. Sir Ryan Foxheart, the dreamiest dream to have ever been dreamed.

Naturally, it all goes to hell through the years when Ryan dates the reprehensible Prince Justin, Sam can’t control his magic, a sexually aggressive dragon kidnaps the prince, and the King sends them on an epic quest to save Ryan’s boyfriend, all while Sam falls more in love with someone he can never have.

Or so he thinks.

“I don’t have time for all the relations and courting and wooing bullshit,” I said. “I’m a wizard. I havequests.”

“Uh, you’re an apprentice,” Gary said. “And you’re sent on errands.”

“You know how you wanted to dye a strip of your mane purple?” I said.

“Yes. Because I’d be beautiful.”

“Well, too fucking bad,” I said savagely. “I’m not going to do it. You’re just going to have keep it white. Forever.”

“You promised!”

“That was before you were a jerk!”

“Oh my gods,” Gary said. “Lartin. Get over here and untie me. I want to kick Sam in the fucking face.”

“No! He’s going to untie me so I can hex the shit out of you. Lartin. Get your ass over here and untie me.”

Um,” Lartin said. “I don’t know if you guys understand the point of being captured. Like… I captured you? Right? And so—”

I’m really terrified right now. A review for The Lightning-struck Heart? Almost impossible to write, as a matter of fact scratch the almost, just impossible. What am I going to say about this amazing book? It was perfect, hilarious, unbelievable, I laughed so much. It was simply fantastic, I peed myself every sentence I read. There aren’t funny moments, it’s a continuous of crazy characters, crazy scenes, crazy facts that follow each other at every moment. At the end I wasn’t sure if I was more in love with Gary, the hornless unicorn, or Sam, the prudish wizard (apprentice, sorry Gary!) or TJ for creating something like that. I just knew I wanted more and more of these guys and this world. So hurry up, TJ!

The Lightning-Struck Heart has some specific qualities that made this book precious and unique. The humour is the most evident. I can honestly say I have never read something like that so far, always so much over the top, you have to read it to understand, there are really no words I could write to describe it. I just can tell you to buy it. Then, the dialogue. Just wow! Simply engaging and together with the well developed and eclectic characters cast, made impossible to put my tablet down for a minute. Luckly the book is a long one so I could get my full fix, I was so satisfied at the end. Moreover there’s the all “feeling section” to consider. Really, the emotions and the feelings that  pervade the story were overwhelming, in a good way of course. Love, friendship, loyalty, and not least lust. They sprang out from every word.

“It’s you,” I said, not able to look away. “It’s how I feel when I’m with you. How I think I’ve always felt. You’re my lightning-struck heart. It doesn’t matter about the cornerstone. It doesn’t matter about who I am or who you are. Not to me. I think it would have always been this way for me. Even if we had never escaped the slums. Ever since the beginning. Ever since I’ve known you, you’ve struck my heart, and now I have to let you go because you’re not mine to keep. I need someone that I can be strong for. But I need someone who can also be strong for me.”

I want to add that this book was just the confirmation of the great talent TJ has, a terrific gift he absolutely needs to continue to share with us. Of course it’s totally different from the BOATK series or the Tell Me It’s Real one (BTW are you ready for The Queen & The Homo Jock King?), but the genius is there, just amplified at the nth degree. Freaking perfect! I just wish I could give the story more stars, five are not enough.

Cover art by Paul Richmond. It’s not what I’m used to see with this artist work and I honestly wouldn’t have recognised it as his but I like this cover, it’s fitting and powerful.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | All Romance (ARe) | Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details:

  • Published July 20th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
  • Kindle Edition, 533 pages
  • ASIN B011PVYANK
  • Edition Language English

A Paul B Review: Needing Noel (Moon Pack #14) by Amber Kell

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars                   ★★★★

Needing Noel coverNoel lost his first mate and their daughter to a fire more than ten years ago.  Will he be able to accept his second mate after such a devastating loss?

Noel Thistleborn has spent the last few years as personal assistant to the king of the fae.  He tries to keep busy to help him forget about the fire that killed both his mate and their daughter.  As part of his duties, he must organize the dragon-mating ball that is being put on by King Kylen.  While he would prefer not to attend the ball itself, Kylen has ordered all single fae must show up.  Kylen gives a concession to Noel in that he can make a brief appearance before he may leave for the night.

Hartmut (Hart) has had a crush on the dragon leader for a number of years.  However, Rhaegar has recently met his mates, a fae and a wolf shifter.  Now he wants the same kind of unconditional love that he sees his friend has.  He hopes that the upcoming ball being held by the fae king to help dragons find their mates will produce some positive results.

When Hart arrives at the ball, his dragon smells something wonderful and indicates to Hart that his mate is in the area.   He tracks Noel down and tells him that he believes Noel is his mate.  Noel tells Hart that he has already had a mate and he does not want another one.  When Hart explains that unlike fae, dragons may only get one mate and that he just wants to get to know Noel better, Noel agrees to a dinner date.  However, having been initially turned down by Noel, Hart wonders if it is even worth the bother.

As the party is winding down, Rhaeger informs Noel that while Hart is a dragon, he has a soft heart.  Just as he is ready to leave, Noel is confronted by his former brother-in-law and is told that the fire almost ten years ago was not what it may seem.  Could either his first mate or his daughter still be alive?  How will Noel convince Hart that he does truly want him while finding answers to questions his brother-in-law put forth?

This fourteenth book in the Moon Pack delivers, as have previous books.  I have enjoyed how Ms. Kell has expanded the universe in the series.  This has allowed her flexibility to keep the series continuing to great success.  The one issue I did have with the book was the epilogue.  While it does further the overall Moon Pack storyline of Anthony becoming a full fledge god grandson of Zeus, the three characters in the epilogue appeared no where else in the book except for brief mentions by the main characters in the story.  Those who have not been reading the series might not know what to make of seemingly extra material.

The cover design by Meredith Russell is simply stunning.  The top half of the cover has our two protagonists shirtless standing in some room.  The bottom half shows Hart’s dragon either landing or about to take off with his wings fully extended beside the fae castle.

Sales Links:  All Romance (ARe) | Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details:

Ebook:  84 pages
Published:  July 17, 2015 by Amber Kell Books
ASIN:  B011YXUIVC
Edition:  English
Series:  Moon Pack

  • Attracting Anthony (Moon Pack #1)
  • Baiting Ben (Moon Pack #2)
  • Courting Calvin (Moon Pack #3)
  • Denying Dare (Moon Pack #4)
  • Enticing Elliott (Moon Pack #5)
  • Finding Ferro (Moon Pack #6)
  • Getting Gabe (Moon Pack #7)
  • Hunting Henry (Moon Pack #8)
  • Inflaming Inno (Moon Pack #9)
  • Judging Jager (Moon Pack #10)
  • Keeping Kylen (Moon Pack #11)
  • Loving Leif (Moon Pack #12)
  • Marking Mikel (Moon Pack #13)
  • Needing Noel (Moon Pack #14)

A Stella Review: Family of Lies: Sebastian by Sam Argent

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Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

Family of Lies coverSebastian Orwell did the only thing a smart wizard could do when he stumbled upon the wounded Crown Prince: he healed him and dumped him in a tavern where he could continue not being Sebastian’s problem. Unfortunately, the prince isn’t content with just being alive, and he hunts Sebastian down to thank him personally. Not only is Sebastian stuck with the prince’s unwanted affections, he’s also confronted by growing evidence linking the assassination attempt to someone from his father’s past.

Lord Orwell is a lot of things: thief, liar, drunk, and all around horrible father, but Sebastian knows he’s no murderer. In order to prove it, Sebastian has to keep the prince alive long enough to discover the truth—a task made considerably harder because the idiot prince prefers wooing Sebastian over securing his own survival. On top of everything, Sebastian needs to save the day without revealing his magical powers and the real reason he hides his appearance.

 Sebastian had no intention of playing the hero, but whoever is stirring up shit in his country will pay for destroying his quiet life.

Family of Lies: Sebastian by Sam Argent was really great! A well done debut book. I couldn’t find a lot about this “new to me” author. I suppose Family of Lies: Sebastian is his/her first published work. To me it was love at first sight with the cover but the plot is good too, with a great development of the story and a lot of funny moments. I can’t believe how I found myself caught in the story untill the end.

Sebastian is the younger (and smarter) son of Lord Orwell, a not so good father of a big and messy family. He wears a strong magical cloak, an enchanted item that hides him totally. Sebastian is arrogant, mysterious, with no tact at all, stubborn and smartass. He annoys everyone, but everyone loves him. He is the lead character, everything and everyone revolves around him and his mysterious ability.

Turren, Prince of Larnlyon, has been in love with Sebastian since forever, even before he burned the first edition of a book very precious to Sebastian, becoming hated by him. He’s determined to woo Sebastian in every way he can, following him around and forcing him to save the Prince more than once.

The book is set in a magical world, of which (sadly) we know very less about. This is the only negative note I can talk of. It’s high fantasy but when I was expecting some explanation on how it works or on the various breeds we meet, I got almost nothing. It was hard at the beginning but I tried to just follow Sebastian in his (dis)adventures and I can assure you the story flowed amazingly good.

There is a HUGE cast, a lot of people considering Sebastian’s family and all the royal members plus the various guards and wizards. Of course they weren’t well defined and in this case I appreciated. It was confusing at the start but as soon as I started to get familiar with them, then it was okay. I’m pretty sure it would have been almost impossible for me to know a little more about each of them and the lack of characters’ description helped me to focus more on Turren and Sebastian. Especially because there is a plot to follow, intrigues and mysteries to solve, wizards to defeat and two young men waiting for their HEA.

Most of all this story is a funny reading, almost real in the banter between all the Orwell family. They brawled at each other in the same way we do with our parents or brothers/sisters everyday. Dysfunctional and crazy and mouthy as mine.

You can’t miss this book if you are a fan of the fantasy genre, you won’t be disappointed. But I’m going to recommend to everyone who wants to read a well written and funny story. I am very happy to have discovered this new author. I can’t wait to read more about Sam Argent, maybe more of these amazing characters I met in Family of Lies: Sebastian. So… next book on Kevin and Luke? Please?

Cover art by Anne Cain. I’m in love with this cover. It is so magical and mysterious and it sparkle!! I couldn’t resist it.

Sales Links:   Dreamspinner Press     All Romance (ARe)     Amazon      Buy It Here

Book Details:

Published March 18th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
ebook, 324 pages
ISBN13 9781632166814
Edition language English

 

A BJ Review: Burn the Sky by Jaye McKenna

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Rating:   4.5 stars out of 5

Burn The Sky coverTwenty year-old Prince Garrick is eldest son and heir presumptive of the Kingdom of Altan, but he can’t be crowned until his latent Wytch power awakens. Pressure comes to bear on his father, the Wytch King, when the much younger Prince Jaire’s Wytch power awakens instead. But Jaire, a bookish dreamer, is completely unsuited for the role of king. With his father becoming impatient, Garrick agrees to allow his Wytch power to be forced awake by the Wytch Master Tevari in order to protect Jaire. But secrets have been kept about the history and powers that lurk within the family line. When the power of the dragon within Garrick is forced awake, he’s painfully torn apart and unable to control his rage and urge to burn the sky.

Wytch Master Ilya is a century old dragon shifter and the only one with the power to try and help Garrick learn to control his own dragon. And if Ilya cannot teach Garrick to harness the beast within him before it destroys the whole kingdom, it will fall upon his shoulders him to destroy him instead. But when the two men meet, the sparks begin to fly in more ways than one. 

Prince Garrick grew so much during this story from the rebellious youth goofing off from his studies & getting off in the corridors with his friend to a strong leader fighting to control his dragon power and take on the mantle of responsibility for an entire Kingdom. Excellent characterizations throughout. Kian was sweet, down-to-earth, and witty almost despite himself. Poor young Jaire, frail and not suited to rule, disliked by his father for reasons outside his control, yet he shows both courage and strength.

But beautiful Ilya with his tragic past and wounded heart steals the spotlight for me, since I’m a huge sucker for wounded men.

Intricate and quite nuanced world-building. Interesting power struggle between the Wytch Council and Wytch King, because even though the Wytch Kings governed their kingdoms, the Wytch Council seemed to hold power over who was allowed to take the throne. Individual intrigue also comes into play in this fast-paced story.

I thoroughly enjoyed this. It had wit, heat, angst, intrigue, and lots of long-haired men! And I love the contrast between Ilya’s ice dragon and Garrick’s more traditional fire-breathing dragon. I’d easily recommend this well-written fantasy! It’s my new favorite dragon shifter story.

Cover Artist: Chinchbug created a stunning depiction of dragons in flight that grabbed my attention with color contrast and captured motion.

Sales Links:     All Romance (ARe)         Amazon             Buy It Here

Book Details:

195 pages, eBook
Published January 12, 2015

Mythe Weaver Press

The Cherry Blossoms Are Out and This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Our Japanese Cherry Blossoms are out in our neighborhood as well as those  along the tidal basin in DC.  And all it took was a day of  warmth and sunshine to bring them out.  How I love this time of the year.  The snowdrops are fading but everything is just starting to come into its own.

We do have an announcement to make.  It’s the two winners chosen by Abigail Roux to win those fabulous Go Bags of Ty’s.  See the announcement below:

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Winner Announcement for the Crash & Burn, Ty Go Bag Contest:

Abigail Roux is pleased to announce the two winners from the Crash and Burn tour:
Maya Jade and alohahelper – chosen from more than 1800 entries!

Congratulations to them both. I’m envious!

We have some wonderful books and yes, more new authors, at least to us, that we are reviewing this week.  Barb the Zany Old Lady is reading and reviewing Dreamspinner Press’ new Curious Cookbook series, 6 authors, 6 stories and what a line up it is. Sammy has Fallout by Lisa Henry and M. Caspian that you won’t want to miss, BJ is here with The Protector, Stella has Thirty Things by Cate Ashwood, Mika is reading contemporary romance, I’m all about the fantasy and science fiction this week and we round out once again with Aurora’s YA Saturday.   Interspersed among the reviews, you will find more author interviews, giveaways and announcements.  Stay Tuned!

        This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Sunday, April 12:

  • The Cherry Blossoms Are Out and This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Monday, April 13:

  • The Other Side of Winter Tour (Riptide)
  • In the Spotlight: Rebecca Cohen’s Under Glass (contest and interview)
  • A Sammy Review: Fallout by Lisa Henry and M. Caspian
  • A MelanieM Review: Baked Fresh by Annabeth Albert
  • A BJ Review: The Protector by Cooper West

Tuesday, April 14:

  • Book Blast: When The Band Came To Town  by Author: H. Lewis-Foster (contest)
  • Jennifer Cie’s Down the Other Street Vol. 2 Tour and Giveaway
  • Annabeth Albert ‘Baked Fresh‘ (Portland Heat #2) Excerpt and Giveaway
  • A Sammy Review: Cronin’s Key by N. R. Walker
  • A Mika Review: You In My Arms by A. C. Katt

Wednesday, April 15:

  • V.L. Locey’s Two Man Advantage Excerpt and Giveaway Blast
  • Get Supernatural with Tina Blenke’s Shifting Cargo Excerpts and Contest
  • In the Spotlight: Andrew Q. Gordon’s ‘The Eye and The Arm’ (contest)
  • A Stella Review: A Boy Called Cin by Cecil Wilde
  • A MelanieM Review: Unproven Theory by Lillian Francis

Thursday, April 16:

  • Cover reveal for Thianna Durston’s ‘A Good Family Man’‏ (contest)
  • In-Decision by Sue Brown‏ Creative Minds Tour
  • In the Spotlight: ‘Every Inferno‘ by Johanna Parkhurst‏ (interview and contest)
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: For A Rainy Afternoon by RJ Scott
  • A MelanieM Review: Emerald Keep by A Catherine Noon and Rachel Wilder

Friday, April 17:

  • Just The Way You Are by E E Montgomery release day book blast and contest
  • In the Spotlight: Kjartan the Gentle by Catherine L. Byrne (excerpt and contest)
  • A Stella Review: Thirty Things by Cate Ashwood
  • A Barb Review:The Silence of the Stars by Kate McMurray ~ Audiobook narrated by Michael Ferraioulo

Saturday, April 18:

An Aurora YA Review: There Is No Fear (Children of the Knight, #3) by Michael J. Bowler

Fallout coverThe Protector coverYou in My Arms coverA Boy Called Cin

 

 

 

 

 

 

A BJ Review: A King’s Ransom by Lia Black

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Rating:   4.25 stars out of 5

A King's Ransome cover

Kaidos Vailinn is a Wander-born thief trying hard to overcome an unfortunate past when he’s approached by a gentleman offering him a large sum of money to recover a kidnapped prostitute for return to the King of a distant kingdom. Kaidos is surprised when he undertakes the mission and discovers upon trying to bed Veyl that not only is the prostitute in question the highest paid companion in the brothel, but also very much male.

Thus begins a journey of epic fantasy proportions. A King’s Ransom is a longish book separated into two parts. Part One was awesome—I adored it. Veyl and Kaidos are sexy, quirky well-developed characters that captivated me and had me thoroughly invested almost immediately. I was absolutely riveted watching them fall in love on their journey across the kingdom to an unknown end. As their pasts are revealed in all its delicious angst, they had me enthralled. Then about midway through came part two and everything changed.

At that point, the book shifted from a tightly focused love story to a sprawling Lord of the Rings style epic set within a complex world of elves, werecreatures, mages and demons in a kingdom of political intrigue. The storyline complexity bumped up to encompassed three m/m love stories, and to facilitate that there are several new POV characters introduced. None of them were bad, in fact, all were interesting and well-drawn. But I’d become so completely invested in Veyl and Kaidos, that this shift threw me.

The entire book is well-written with compelling characters, wonderful storytelling and world-building. Part two just wasn’t the story that I personally craved after having become engrossed in part one. Having the main couple separated for nearly the whole second part of the book had me itching to hurrying through all the other fun stuff going on in order to get back to the relationship of Veyl and Kaidos again. In the end, the brief time on-page after they were reunited left me wanting just a bit more.

Veyl and Kaidos are an awesome couple. I enjoyed them so much that my only niggle with this book centers around my annoyance at having them share the spotlight with any other couples no matter how interesting and fun they were.

Cover Artist: Cinchbug. I appreciated the cover more after reading the story than before.

Sales Links:  Smashwords        All Romance (ARe)     Amazon  Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 432 pages
Published February 1st 2014 by Smashwords
original titleA King’s Ransom
ISBN139781311782328
edition languageEnglish