Blog Tour for The Stars May Rise and Fall by Estella Mirai (excerpt and giveaway)

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Book Title: The Stars May Rise and Fall

An M/M retelling of Phantom of the Opera set in turn-of-the-millennium Japan

Author: Estella Mirai

Publisher: Self-published

Cover Artist: MiblArt

Genre/s: M/M romance, contemporary

Heat Rating: 2 flames

Length: 90 000 words/320 pages

It is a standalone story.

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Blurb

Teru came to Tokyo with dreams of making it big in the glam-metal visual kei scene, but three years later, all he has to show for it is a head of hot pink hair and some skill with an eyeliner pencil. He may look the part, but he doesn’t sound it, and constant bickering among his bandmates has him worried about his future. When he finds a mysterious business card in his bag, he’s willing to take any help he can get.

Help comes in the form of Rei, a crippled, disfigured composer whose own career was ended by an accident before it had really begun. With Teru’s voice and looks, and Rei’s money and songwriting skills, both of their dreams seem about to come true – but a forbidden kiss and a late-night confession threaten to tear it all apart. Now Teru, who has spent most of his life denying his attraction to men, and Rei, who vowed long ago never to love again, must reconcile their feelings with their careers – and with their carefully constructed ideas of themselves.



THE STARS MAY RISE AND FALL is an M/M retelling of Phantom of the Opera, set in Tokyo at the turn of the millennium. It comes with a healthy dose of angst and a dollop of nostalgia, as well as an age-difference romance, a physically disabled love interest, and memorable characters who will stay with you long after the pages are closed.

Buy Links

Amazon US

Amazon UK 

Excerpt 

I can help you. Call me.

Teru ran his finger around the edge of the card. Maybe it had been a mistake. Should he call, and let whoever had left it know?

He opened the window and lit a cigarette. The smoke floated out into the muggy Tokyo night.

“This is stupid,” he said aloud. “It’s one in the morning. Whoever it is, they’re asleep.”

But Teru wasn’t asleep. His bandmates probably weren’t asleep either. If it was a musician who had left the card, one in the morning was better than one in the afternoon.

I can help you. Call me.

He picked up his phone and dialed.

It rang once, twice—and Teru cut the connection. This is stupid. But he didn’t feel stupid. He felt guilty, like he’d been doing something he shouldn’t.

He stubbed out the cigarette and walked across the room to the refrigerator. Nothing but a pack of noodles and a flat Diet Coke. Even though he’d already had a couple with the guys after the show, what Teru really needed was a beer.

On the other side of the room, the phone rang.

The floor was littered with clothes and magazines and Playstation controllers. Teru almost tripped as he lunged for the phone, and then only crouched there, watching it, with his nerves wrapped around his voice box like a snake. There was no name with the number, but Teru knew it by heart. He’d only been staring at it for the past hour.

The ringing stopped. An engine rumbled outside Teru’s window, and a train clattered over distant tracks. Upstairs, slippered feet padded across a tatami floor. The air was thick with an anticipation far from silence—but just as easily shattered by the trill of a different ring.

Teru’s fingers fumbled to open the text.

I heard you sing.

He stared, waiting for the words to sink in. They didn’t, though. They made no sense.

It had only been a mistake after all.

You’ve got the wrong number, he replied. This is Teru, the drummer for La Rose Verboten. I don’t sing.

And then: You should.

The phone rang again.

“Hello?”

“You have a beautiful voice.”

It wasn’t Yasu. It wasn’t anyone he knew.

“Hello?” Teru repeated. “Who is this?”

“A friend.” The voice was male, deep and effortlessly sensual in a way that Seika would have envied. It made Teru distinctly uncomfortable.

“Look,” Teru said. “I think you want Bara. I’m not the singer. I’m the drummer. The one with pink hair?”

“I heard you,” the man pressed. “In the dressing room. I can help you.”

In the dressing room? There’d been no one else in there.

“Is this some kind of joke?”

“Not at all.”

“What do you want?” Teru whispered.

“To teach you. To help you. Will you meet with me?”

Teru’s palms were sweaty, his face flushed. It was partly exhaustion, partly a lingering buzz… but it was more than that. He felt dirty. This was worse than what he felt with Seika—and it was just a voice on the goddamn phone.

“There’s a studio in Koenji,” he heard himself say.

“No!” the man snapped, and he took a sharp, hissing breath. “No studios. You may come to my apartment.”

“Your apartment?”

“Please. It is… difficult, for me to go out.”

“Um… okay.” What the hell did that mean?

“I live in Meguro,” the man said. “Near the live house. I can send you the address. If you’ll come.” There was a plea in his voice, a quiet desperation. Teru swallowed, hard.

“You want to give me singing lessons?”

“Yes.”

This was insane. “When?”

“Whenever you are free.”

Teru glanced at his calendar. June, 2000. Three years, almost to the day, since he had stepped off the night bus from Niigata. After all that time, he didn’t even have anything to lose.

About the Author

Estella Mirai lives just outside of Tokyo with her human family and a very spoiled lap cat. When she isn’t reading or writing, she works in editing and translation—which means that 99% percent of her day is usually words. In her minimal free time, she enjoys watching musicals, cooking (badly), and slaughtering power ballads at karaoke.

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A MelanieM Review: The Stars May Rise and Fall by Estella Mirai

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

 

Teru came to Tokyo with dreams of making it big in the glam-metal visual kei scene, but three years later, all he has to show for it is a head of hot pink hair and some skill with an eyeliner pencil. He may look the part, but he doesn’t sound it, and constant bickering among his bandmates has him worried about his future. When he finds a mysterious business card in his bag, he’s willing to take any help he can get.Vi   V

Help comes in the form of Rei, a crippled, disfigured composer whose own career was ended by an accident before it had really begun. With Teru’s voice and looks, and Rei’s money and songwriting skills, both of their dreams seem about to come true – but a forbidden kiss and a late-night confession threaten to tear it all apart. Now Teru, who has spent most of his life denying his attraction to men, and Rei, who vowed long ago never to love again, must reconcile their feelings with their careers – and with their carefully constructed ideas of themselves.

The Phantom of the Opera story is one of my favorites, tragic, dramatic, horrifying in some ways, and romantic.  It’s been told and retold countless ways  from the original novel by Gaston Leroux to movies, plays, and yes, more novels with multiple twists and turns to the original theme and storyline.  I always wonder where the next author or  songwriter or whoever will take it next.  And what their spin will be.

Didn’t expect it to be Visual Kei and Japan.  But it turned out to be an unexpected draw for me and a perfect fit for a M/M retelling of Phantom of the Opera. Visual Kei is a form of Japanese rock, think American Glam rock of the 80’s.  It’s still popular today but it’s heyday was the 80’s and it’s stars (GACKT was/is one as was bands like Malice Mizer, Raphael, and Dir En Grey) were gods.  They wore makeup, elaborate costumes, and often appeared gender fluid.  It’s into this world that Estella Mirai takes us.

The author sets her story in Tokyo and a visual kei band, La Rose Verboten, already in turmoil.  The self involved lead singer Bara is looking for an excuse to quit, the small time’s band’s popularity is dropping and the remaining members, Yasu, Minori, and the drummer Teru are trying desperately to hold on when Teru gets handed a card that states.

I can help you.  Call me.

And with that a familiar story is launched, turned, and becomes one of pain, lost chances, a young man’s discovery of his sexuality, hurt/comfort, anguish, and finally redemption and great love.  In Mirai’s hands the reader falls deeply not only under the spell of Japan and these young men but get’s pulled into the world of visual kei, it’s music and lyrics, the music industry itself, and the personal costs associated with stardom.  That is quite the narrative load and the author manages to combine it all into one incredible romance.

I will admit that I stumbled a bit on the romance part at the beginning.  As with every Phantom retelling, there’s a romance triangle to deal with.  The mystery man behind the card is Rei, tortured, scarred and wounded, he wears a mask of silver.  More of his background I won’t reveal but it is peeled back ever so slowly, each layer a revelation to Teru and to us the readers.  The other?  A young girl, Kiyomi, who went to school with Teru and is now his biggest fan.    For Teru, each represents a different direction his life can take.  With Kiyomi he can stay safe, pretend to be “het”, go home, and take up his old name.  Or accept he’s gay, and his feelings for  Rei as incredibly scary as they are, embrace the path he’s on and understand  love in all its forms.  And he can become not just a  drummer but the singer he was always meant to be.  And a star.

This is not an easy romance as one hopefully would expect.  One person has been traumatized and has the personality that comes from living in constant pain and dealing with a haunted past.  One is confused about his sexuality, his future, his gifts musically, he’s in the throws of his first real love and it’s with a person almost guaranteed to make a a road strewn with walls and boulders.  Then there is a young girl who wants to make everything easy….

Those  who hate cheating will have issues here but honestly this reads so real and human you understand  the issues here and how messy the human heart can be.

But the best of the best?  The final third of this story.  The parts that break your heart and put them back together again.  And oh that ending!   As they say in the theatre, that’s worth the price of the ticket!

Estella Mirai has a marvelous story here, borrowed from Gaston Leroux, and given a Japanese rock twist.  Her characters are beautifully layered, her story well written, and destined to stay with you long after the last bars of the song have been sung.

“sakikaeru made”

Yes it did.

Find out what that means by buying this incredible book.  I highly recommend it.    And don’t forget to read all about the real people chapter at the end.

Cover art: MiblArt. I loved the cover.  Perfect for the characters, tone, and storyline.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 1st edition, 309 pages
Expected publication: December 11th 2018
ISBN 139781684547715
Edition Language English

 

 

 

 

THE STARS MAY RISE AND FALL is  at the turn of the millennium. It comes with a healthy dose of angst and a dollop of nostalgia, as well as an age-difference romance, a physically disabled love interest, and memorable characters who will stay with you long after the pages are closed.

***

Tour: Becoming Andy Hunsinger by Jere’ M. Fishback (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Becoming Andy Hunsinger

Author: Jere’ M. Fishback

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: Aug 14, 2017

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 64200

Genre: Historical, friends to lovers, college, coming out, coming-of-age, historical, drug/alcohol use

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Synopsis

It’s 1976, and Anita Bryant’s homophobic “Save Our Children” crusade rages through Florida. When Andy Hunsinger, a closeted gay college student, joins in a demonstration protesting Bryant’s appearance in Tallahassee, his straight boy image is shattered when he is “outed” by a TV news reporter. In the months following, Andy discovers just what it means to be openly gay in a society that condemns love between two men and wonders if his friendship with Travis, a devout Christian who’s fighting his own sexual urges, can develop into something deeper.

Excerpt

Becoming Andy Hunsinger
Jere’ M. Fishback © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One

On my seventh birthday, my parents gave me a Dr. Seuss book, The Cat in the Hat.

I still have the book; it rests on the shelf above my desk, along with other Seuss works I’ve collected. Inside The Cat in the Hat’s cover, my mother wrote an inscription, using her precise penmanship.

“Happy Birthday, Andy. As you grow older, you’ll realize many truths dwell within these pages. Much love, Mom and Dad.”

Mom was right, of course. She most always was. My favorite line is this one:

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

***

Loretta McPhail was a notorious Tallahassee slumlord. On a steamy afternoon, in August 1976, she spoke to me in her North Florida drawl: part magnolia, part crosscut saw.

“The rent’s one twenty-five. I’ll need first, last, and a security deposit, no exceptions.”

McPhail wore a short-sleeved shirtwaist dress, spectator pumps, and a straw hat with a green plastic windowpane sewn into the brim. Her skin was as pale as cake flour. A gray moustache grew on her wrinkled upper lip, and age spots peppered the backs of her hands. Her eyeglasses had lenses so thick her gaze looked buggy.

I’d heard McPhail held title to more than fifty properties in town, all of them cited multiple times for violation of local building codes. She owned rooming houses, single-family homes, and small apartment buildings, mostly in neighborhoods surrounding Florida State University’s campus. Like me, her tenants sought cheap rent; they didn’t care if the roof leaked or the furnace didn’t work.

The Franklin Street apartment I viewed with McPhail wasn’t much: a living room and kitchen, divided by a three-quarter wall; a bedroom with windows looking into the rear and side yards; and a bathroom with a wall-mounted sink, a shower stall, and a toilet with a broken seat. In each room, the plaster ceilings bore water marks. The carpet was a leopard skin of suspicious-looking stains, and the whole place stank of mildew and cat pee.

McPhail’s building was a two-storied, red-brick four-plex with casement windows that opened like book covers, a Panhandle style of architecture popular in the 1950s. Shingles on the pitched roof curled at their edges. Live oaks and longleaf pines shaded the crabgrass lawn, and skeletal azaleas clung to the building’s exterior.

In the kitchen, I peeked inside a rust-pitted Frigidaire. The previous tenant had left gifts: a half-empty ketchup bottle, another of pickle relish. A carton of orange juice with an expiration date three months past sat beside a tub of margarine.

Out in the stairwell, piano music tinkled—a jazzy number I didn’t recognize.

McPhail clucked her tongue and shook her head. “I’ve told Fergal—and I mean several times—to close his door when he plays, but he never does. I’m not sure why I put up with that boy.”

McPhail pulled a pack of Marlboros from a pocket in the skirt of her dress. After tapping out two cigarettes, she jammed them between her lips. She lit both with a brushed-chrome Zippo, then gave me one.

I puffed and tapped a toe, letting my gaze travel about the kitchen. I studied the chipped porcelain sink, scratched Formica countertops, and drippy faucet. Blackened food caked the range’s burner pans. The linoleum floor’s confetti motif had long ago disappeared in high-traffic areas. Okay, the place was a dump. But the rent was cheap, and campus was less than a mile away. I could ride my bike to classes and to my part-time job as caddy at the Capital City Country Club.

Still, I hesitated.

The past two years, I’d lived in my fraternity house with forty brothers. I took my meals there, too. If I rented McPhail’s apartment, I’d have to cook for myself. What would I eat? Where would I shop for food?

Other questions flooded my brain. Where would I wash my clothes? And how did a guy open a utilities account? The apartment wasn’t furnished. Where would I purchase a bed? What about a dinette and living room furniture?

And how much did such things cost? It all seemed so complicated.

Still…

Lack of privacy at the fraternity house would pose a problem for me this year. Over summer break—back home in Pensacola—I’d experienced my first sexual encounter with another male, a lanky serviceman named Jeff Dellinger, age twenty-four. Jeff was a second lieutenant from Eglin Air Force Base. I met him at a sand volleyball game behind a Pensacola Beach hotel, and he seemed friendly. I liked his dark hair, slim physique, and ready smile, but wasn’t expecting anything personal to happen between us.

After all, I was a “straight boy,” right?

We bought each other beers at the tiki bar, and then Jeff invited me up to his hotel room. Once we reached the room, Jeff prepared two vodka tonics. My drink struck like snake venom, and then my brain fuzzed. Jeff opened a bureau drawer; he produced a lethal-looking pistol fashioned from black metal. The pistol had a matte finish and a checked grip.

“Ever seen one of these?” Jeff asked.

I shook my head.

“It’s an M1911—official air-force issue. I’ve fired it dozens of times.”

Jeff raised the gun to shoulder height. He closed one eye, focused his other on the pistol’s barrel sight. “Shooting’s almost…sensual.” Then he looked at me. “It’s like sex, if you know what I mean.”

I shrugged, not knowing what to say.

Jeff handed the pistol to me. It weighed more than I’d expected, between two and three pounds. I turned it this way and that, admiring its sleek contours. The grip felt cold against my palm and a shiver ran through me. I’d never fired a handgun, never thought to.

“Is it loaded?” I asked.

Jeff bobbed his chin. “One bullet’s in the firing chamber, seven more in the magazine; it’s a semiautomatic.”

After I handed Jeff the gun, he returned it to his bureau’s drawer while I sipped my drink, feeling woozier by the minute. Jeff sat next to me, on the room’s double bed. His knee nudged mine, our shoulders touched, and I smelled his coconut-scented sunscreen.

Jeff laid a hand on my thigh. Then he squeezed. “You don’t mind, do you?”

I looked down at his hand while my heart thumped. Go on, chickenshit. He wants you.

I gazed into Jeff’s dark eyes. “It’s fine.”

Moments later, my swim trunks lay in a corner and Jeff knelt in front of me, slurping away. Currents of pleasure crept through my limbs, and then I felt a buzzing between my legs. When I came, I thought I’d pass out. I closed my eyes and drew a deep breath. Then I watched fireworks explode inside my head.

Jesus, this feels good. Why haven’t I done this before?

Thereafter, we rendezvoused several times during summer, always at the same hotel.

“I get a military discount here,” Jeff explained.

I quickly learned the basics of male/male sex from Jeff, and each session proved better than the one before. During these meetings, Jeff introduced me to anal intercourse, something I’d never dreamed I would do.

The first few times, Jeff took a passive role. But then he asked me to surrender my cherry, and I acceded. Jeff’s initial penetration felt painful, but soon I relaxed, and I discovered a side of myself I hadn’t known existed. A fullness and warmth crept through my body as Jeff thrust inside me. The whole thing felt so…natural.

Whenever I lay in bed with Jeff, after sex, I always rested my head on his chest, and while I listened to his heartbeat I felt like a guy released from jail. I knew I was queer then—there was no doubt about it—and the realization made me feel a bit foolish, like I was the last guy at the party let in on the joke. I was a faggot, a fudge-packer, a butt pirate. My attempts at dating women had been a ruse—I’d only done it to fit in with my fraternity brothers—and what a waste of time it had been for all concerned.

Like most guys, I’d masturbated chronically since my early teens, and now I knew why visions of naked men crept into my thoughts whenever I did so. Now I knew why my friends’ girlie magazines had never held my interest. No wonder showering with my PE classmates in high school had thrilled me so.

It all seems stupid in retrospect. How could I not know I was gay? But in 1976, most guys weren’t in touch with their inner selves. I don’t know why, but we weren’t. Feelings weren’t a topic of male conversation. Emotional needs took a backseat to more “important” matters: achievement, sports, and politics—“normal” concerns, if you will.

My summer with Jeff changed all that, for me at least. In the sexual sense, I had found my mother lode. I belonged in the arms of a man—I would settle for nothing else—and I was fine with it. But now fall had arrived, and I would live in Tallahassee again. I couldn’t drive to Fort Walton Beach every weekend. That would mean a three-hour drive on monotonous Highway 90, passing by cow pastures and slash pine forests, just to meet up with Jeff. And how much sense did that make? I needed a boyfriend who lived nearby, and assuming I found one, I would face a few problems.

If I remained at the Lambda Chi house I’d share a room with a fraternity brother, so I’d have no privacy. Plus, the guys at Lambda Chi wouldn’t understand if I dated another male, no way.

Wasn’t it time I had my own place?

Now, in her run-down rental apartment, McPhail blew a stream of blue smoke. After the cloud rose to the kitchen’s cobwebbed ceiling, she looked at me with her insect eyes.

“Well?” she said.

I studied my shoes and licked my lips. Go on: do it.

I swung my gaze to my future landlady.

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

Jere’ M. Fishback is a former journalist and trial lawyer who now writes fiction full time. He lives with his partner Greg on a barrier island on Florida’s Gulf Coast. When he’s not writing, Jere’ enjoys reading, playing his guitar, jogging, swimming laps, fishing, and watching sunsets from his deck overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway.

Website | Facebook | Goodreads

Tour Schedule

8/14    Happily Ever Chapter

8/14    Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews

8/15    MillsyLovesBooks

8/15    A Book Lover’s Dream Book Blog

8/15    Love Bytes Reviews

8/16    V’s Reads

8/17    MM Good Book Reviews

8/17    The Novel Approach

8/17    Drops of Ink

8/17    Diverse Reader

8/18    Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

8/18    Xtreme Delusions

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