Blog Tour for Memory of Me (The Chronicles of Darius #12) by Jess Thomas (excerpt)

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BLOG TOUR

 

Book Title: Memory of Me (The Chronicles of Darius #12)

Author: Jess Thomas

Publisher: Self-Published

Cover Artist: Jess Thomas

Release Date: November 8th 2017

Genre: Gay Romance

Length: 101,506 words/353 Kindle pages

 

Blurb

Darius thought he could make it through anything, he was strong and had an inner strength that could pull him through the various trials of his life. However, his strength is going to be put to the ultimate test. Will he be able to cope when he realizes the weapon of destruction could actually be the one thing he lives for? Sometimes the greatest love is the greatest pain.
For the first time, everyone understands the prophecy told so long ago that Darius would be the end of the everything. The loss of white energy would destroy not only him but those he loved and the places he protected. 


An ominous journey to beyond the here and now with two of the greatest powers of the universe is the only way to begin to right what has gone so sorely wrong.


Join Darius in his latest and most important adventure. The fate of so many not only depends on righting so many wrongs, but on understanding and forgiveness.


Memory of Me will thrill and excite you with its heart-rending story.

 

 

Buy Links ~ Available on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US 

Amazon UK

Goodreads Link

 

Excerpt

The creature followed behind us for some time, holding its head out as a gift, which if you look at it, is an important gift, just not one you really want. If I hadn’t been so stressed by that time, I would have realized he wanted his head back on. But I wasn’t thinking straight, my ashen complexion and trembling lips were a testimony to that.

“Go away,” Bunthar demanded, hitting his staff on the ground. Every time he did, several new cries hit the misty air.

“I’m not loving this,” I called out, trying to get away from the various creatures’ grasps.

“Well, I was,” Bunthar muttered sarcastically, “What about you, Trend?”

At the moment, Trend was pulling his cape back. He must really love his cape because I would have let them have it.

“I think I’ll vacation here,” Trend muttered before letting out several cuss words himself.

 

December 2

Tangents and Tissues 

Lily G Blunt

December 3

Stories That Make You Smile

December 4

Queer Sci Fi

December 5

MM Midnight Cafe

Valerie Ullmer | Romance Author 

The Blogger Girls

December 6  

Book Lovers 4Ever 

December 7

The Novel Approach  INTERVIEW

Louise Lyons 

December 8

The Way She Reads

December 9

MJ’s Book Blog and Reviews 

December 10

Gay Book Reviews  

December 11  

Bayou Book Junkie

Nell Iris

December 12

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words 

December 20

Drops of Ink  

About the Author

Jess Thomas was born in the mid-west and she has a natural love for nature and animals. A gentle creature born to loving parents who believed in seeing the world for all its beauty, she learned the imperfections in life were something to be treasured and seen as a learning experience. An artist from an early age, she went to art school where she got a degree in drawing and painting, photography, and in Art Education. In 2009 she laid down her paintbrush and she picked up writing and channeling her creative energy in a fresh direction. A new writer, she pours sensitivity and her love of the world she has created into her emotions and the characters who live there.

Social Media Link

Facebook Author Page

Hosted by Gay Book Promotions

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

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

Buy at DSP Publications |  Amazon 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blurb

Sometimes the fiercest battle a man faces is against himself.

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

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

Excerpt:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author Bio:

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

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

Release Blitz for Holographic Havoc by L.M. Brown (excerpt and giveaway)

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Book Title: Holographic Havoc

Author: L.M. Brown

Publisher: Self-Published

Cover Artist: studioenp – the amazing Emmy Ellis

Genre/s: Romantic Comedy, Futuristic (Near future)

Length: approx.18,300 words/49 pages

Release date: October 27, 2017

Blurb

Hayden Knight’s job is simple. All he has to do is sell his father’s latest invention to Tate South, the Acquisitions Manager of the biggest supplier of the best in cutting-edge technology. The virtual assistant is designed to help the user in all aspects of their life, but Hayden views the holographic helper as nothing but a nuisance. Keeping his annoyance to himself is relatively easy until a major technical glitch causes Tate to see and hear Hayden’s assistant.

Hayden and Tate are thrown together while they try to figure out what has happened, and the chemistry between them is electric. Hayden soon finds that convincing Tate that he needs a Holo-Assistant isn’t as important to him as persuading him he needs Hayden in his life.
The attraction is mutual and the sparks fly. If only they could get rid of their holographic third wheel.

Buy Links

Amazon Universal Link

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Goodreads

Excerpt

Hayden finally gave up on sleep at half past six, got out of bed and stumbled to the bathroom. His assistant followed him.
Unfortunately, there was no way for Hayden to turn off the assistant for a little privacy. The first time it had hovered beside him while he took a piss he had tried to shut it down. That was the moment he discovered the assistant was a permanent fixture in his life. The only way to remove it would be to undergo surgery to remove the neural implant, something his father wouldn’t allow until he had thoroughly tested it.
The Holo-Assistant, a highly advanced piece of technology was the brainchild of his father and Hayden was one of the guinea-pigs testing it for him. A program designed to manage all aspects of a person’s life, from scheduling appointments at work to ensuring a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle. It was every app a person could ever want, all rolled into one holographic assistant. If Hayden had known what he was letting himself in for, he would have thought twice about it. Not that his father had given him much choice. As head of the marketing department for Knight Inventions, it was Hayden’s job to sell the product and his father believed that the only way for Hayden to truly believe his sales pitch was for him to have experienced the wonders of the invention for himself.
Hayden tried to ignore the holographic nuisance as he stepped into the shower and closed his eyes.
A loud groan coming from outside the cubicle caused Hayden to jump and bang his elbow on the tiles. “What the hell?”
He rubbed his eyes and eased open the shower door. Hovering in front of him was a holo-screen playing porn. The actors were giving it their all, moaning and groaning loud enough to wake the dead. His assistant stood beside the screen with a stupid smile on its face.
“Shut down film,” Hayden snapped. There was a time and a place for porn and this unholy hour of the morning wasn’t it.
“Would you like an alternative?” the assistant asked, bringing up a long list of titles and stills from what appeared to be every porn film Hayden had ever watched and more besides.
“No, I bloody don’t,” Hayden replied.
“I believe you’ll find it will assist you in maintaining your schedule.”
“Excuse me? What schedule are you talking about now?”
“As part of maintaining your well-being I have allotted you time to masturbate.”
Hayden goggled at the assistant. “What did you say?”
“I have allocated you time to masturbate,” it obligingly confirmed. “With the assistance of a film of your liking it is estimated that you will require two minutes for this task.”
“Oh for crying out loud.” Hayden slammed the door, shaking the glass, and shut out the frustrating hologram. He wasn’t sure what annoyed him the most, the fact that the wretched program had allocated him time to wank, or that it had only allowed him two minutes for the job.

About the Author

L.M. Brown is an English writer of gay romances. She believes that there is nothing hotter or sweeter than two men in love with each other… unless it is three.
When L.M. Brown isn’t bribing her fur babies for control of the laptop, she can usually be found with her nose in a book.

Social Media Links
Blog/Website
Facebook Author Page
Twitter
Google+

Giveaway

To win a $10/£10 Amazon gift card

please visit LM BROWN’S blog and leave a comment on the new release announcement post.

Entries must be received by midnight GMT on 4th November 2017.

A winner will be chosen at random on Sunday 5th November 2017.

RELEASE BLITZ SCHEDULE

October 28

Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews

Valerie Ullmer | Romance Author

Hoards Jumble

Socially Awkward Book Nerd

From Top to Bottom Reviews

BFD Book Blog

The Way She Reads

Smokin’ Hot Reads Book Blog

Millsy Loves Books

Tangents and Tissues

The Blogger Girls

Stories That Make You Smile

MM Good Book Reviews

Nerdy Dirty and Flirty

October 29

Bayou Book Junkie

MJ’s Book Blog and Reviews

Nell Iris

Zipper Rippers

Lily G Blunt

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Gay Book Reviews

October 30

Drops of Ink

 

Hosted by Gay Book Promotions

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Taylor Brooke on Inspiration and her latest novel Fortitude Smashed. (guest post, excerpt and giveaway)

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Fortitude Smashed by Taylor Brooke
Interlude Press
Published September 21st 2017

 

Purchase Links:

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Taylor Brooke here today talking about the inspiration behind Fortitude Smashed.  Welcome, Taylor.

Somewhere Else – The Story Behind The Hollow by Taylor Brooke

Fortitude Smashed is full of Laguna Beach staples – Main Beach, The Whitehouse, The Saloon, The Koffee Klatch. These native hot spots are routinely visited by locals and tourists alike, supplying cocktails, appetizers and daily doses of caffeine. However, there is one place that lives in the pages of Fortitude Smashed that most people will probably give my imagination all the credit for. I mean, how could a giant treehouse be hidden in Laguna Canyon?

Surprise. The Hollow is real.

A friend of mine found it after deviating from an established hiking trail and bush-whacking his way through the dense Laguna Wilderness Park over spring break. I didn’t believe him at first, or I guess I didn’t know what to believe. I asked myself how a treehouse that big, how something that cool, could’ve hidden from us all this time. The answer presented itself when he tried to show me where it was: Make it almost impossible to get to.

The Hollow was a place that demanded to be stumbled upon, and stumble we did. There really was a fence with a hole to crawl through, though, and there really was a game trail that led through a break in the tree line. When we finally got to it, my friend said, “I told you so,” and I said, “Who else knows about this?”

The tire swing dangled by a frayed braided rope that would obviously snap if someone tried to play on it, and the rusted car was littered with cigarette butts, beer bottles and Del Taco salsa packets. The Hollow was magnificent, though. Despite the questionable rigging and the litter left behind by partiers, the cluster of treehouses tucked away in the forest seemed like a promise fulfilled. To me, it proved that magic was real. It was a secret place that we could claim, and claim it we did. We fixed the tire swing, carved our names into the biggest tree and spent many nights howling at the moon, doing things we weren’t supposed to, in a place that wasn’t supposed to exist.

We didn’t know if anyone else knew about it. But whoever did happen to know was never there at the same time we were. We found clues – cigarette packs that weren’t ours, liquor bottles we hadn’t left, new carvings in the tree with names we didn’t recognize. Being a teenager was like running with a pack of wolves. I had my pack, others had theirs, and we shared one magical, strange hideout that blurred the lines between reality and somewhere else.

I live in Central Oregon now, and I have to admit, I miss somewhere else. I wonder if it’s still there.

Here is a deleted scene from Fortitude Smashed. Aiden, Shannon, Daisy and Chelsea take a trip to The Hollow the morning of Aiden’s twenty-third birthday:

The Hollow was a place for secrets.

There were flourishing lakes of wide awake flowers, luminous yellows and tangy oranges, lavender and periwinkle, and heartbeat reds. The trees, full and overpowering, reached every direction with long, leafy arms. Copper leaves danced with springy ferns, and cat tails swayed alongside bristled cacti. Secret upon secret upon secret transformed with the seasons. The muted leaves that crunched beneath their feet in winter had been replaced by lively moss and long grass. The rusted car, crowded with weather-worn party favors, was home to vines climbing the hood, looped through the glassless windshield.

“It’s gorgeous.” Chelsea sighed. She stared up at the tree houses, the rope ladder, the deck, the tire swing, and shook her head. “Is it safe?”

“Yeah, it’s safe,” Shannon said, sipping on a large 7-Eleven soda.

Daisy picked through a bag of mixed nuts and held it out to Chelsea.

Chelsea tossed a cashew in her mouth. “Look at that,” she whispered, taking long strides toward the carved-up tree, branded with memories. Daisy trailed after her.

Shannon watched Aiden circle a bushel of honeysuckles. His blue vans looked strange, such a startling replacement to his combat boots. But that might’ve been the only startling thing about him now. The rest of him, black tank and dark washed jeans, sharp edges and clever eyes, were pleasant familiarities.

Aiden sat in a patch of light that beamed between trees, plucking honeysuckles and sucking on their stems. Shannon took slow steps, drawing out the image in front of him. Aiden’s camera around his neck, his gaze flicking from the flower to Shannon, and his smile, warm and comfortable, parting as he said, “What’re you looking at, Detective?”

 

FORTITUDE SMASHED ~ SUMMARY 

After scientists stumbled across an anomalous human hormone present during moments of emotional intimacy, further research created the ability to harness the direction of living energy and pinpoint when two lines will merge. Personalized chips are now implanted beneath the thumbnails of every infant, where glowing numbers count down to the moment they will meet their soul mate. Fate is now a calculation.

But loving someone isn’t.

When Shannon Wurther, the youngest detective in Southern California, finds himself face-to-face with Aiden Maar, the reckless art thief Shannon’s precinct has been chasing for months, they are both stunned. Their Camellia Clocks have timed out, and the men are left with a choice—love one another or defy fate.

FORTITUDE SMASHED ~ EXCERPT

Shannon’s first instinct was to call for backup. It’s what he should’ve done.

Instead, he slid his hand around the door and pulled it open; his other hand rested on his holstered gun.

The scent of oil paint and clay wafted strong in the stillness. The room was too open, a wide space with nowhere to hide. Shannon took a step, another, and glanced at the desk, where abstract patterns swirled on the screen of a hibernating computer next to a dimmed, decorative lamp.

Movement. Footsteps, heel to toe, slow and quiet, behind him.

Shannon swung around. Someone—the thief—gasped. He grabbed the fabric of a shirt and shoved whoever was wearing it against the wall.

“You’re under arrest,” he growled. The body, a man, squirmed and cursed. The one time he didn’t play it safe and call for backup was the time he might need it. Shannon forced the thief’s hands against the wall. “Spread your fingers.”

The thief complied. “Of fucking course.” Shannon heard him rolling his eyes.

“Breaking and entering is a crime, you understand that? So is taking things that aren’t yours.”

“I didn’t take anything. I didn’t get the chance to.” Whoever he was, he was unapologetically bored with the situation. Shannon spotted a bold tattoo on his side where his shirt was bunched up from their abrupt collision. The man sighed. “Can I have my hands back now?”

“No, you can’t, because—”

Shannon’s entire being screeched to a stop. His spine straightened; his knees locked. He couldn’t breathe. Beneath his glove, warmth spread from his right thumb into his wrist. The Camellia Clock vibrated, gentle but convincing, a purr that alerted him to the 00:00 that now read in glowing numbers under his thumbnail. Saliva pooled in his mouth. Heat coursed through him. Blood rushed—high speed traffic in his veins. His heartbeat, steady and then not, pounded in his ears.

He stared at the hand spread out on the wall. On the thief’s right thumbnail, the same numbers glowed 00:00. Shannon squeezed the man’s wrist a little tighter.

A shaky breath quivered from the chest in front of him. Apparently, Shannon wasn’t the only one surprised.

He swallowed, and his grip tightened again before he let go and ripped his hands away. Eyeing Shannon carefully, the burglar spun. He had a straight nose and a sharp jaw; he was all angles and edges and pale skin. His skittishness reminded Shannon of a deer—maybe not a deer. The stranger’s lips twitched into a straight-toothed grin under hooded dark eyes. Yeah, maybe not a deer. Maybe a wolf.

A breathless chuckle trickled past a clever smile. The thief gave a slow shake of his head, disbelief and curiosity stitching a genuine expression across his face that Shannon hated. “Aiden Maar,” he said, too confidently to be taken lightly.

Shannon’s jaw was set so tight it ached to open his mouth. “Detective Wurther.”

“Pleasure’s all mine, Detective.” The rasp in his voice made Shannon’s stomach jump.

Before Shannon could yell, or grab, or get another word in, the thief—Aiden—was gone, darting past him and out the door. His head swam. Still reeling, he couldn’t have caught Aiden if his life depended on it. But he was going to have to, because, according to the Camellia Clock, Aiden Maar was his future.

According to Shannon Wurther, the Camellia Clock was wrong.

* * *

Fortitude Smashed will be published by Interlude Press on September 21, 2017. Connect with author Taylor Brooke at taylorbrookewrites.org; on Twitter @taysalion; and on Facebook at facebook.com/taylorbrookewrites.

About the Author

After fleshing out a multitude of fantastical creatures as a special effects makeup professional, Taylor turned her imagination back to her true love—books. When she’s not nestled in a blanket typing away on her laptop, she can be found haunting the local bookstore with a cup of tea, planning her next adventure, and fawning over baby animals.

* * *

Fortitude Smashed will be published by Interlude Press on September 21, 2017. Connect with author Taylor Brooke at taylorbrookewrites.org; on Twitter @taysalion; and on Facebook at facebook.com/taylorbrookewrites.

Giveaway

Book Tour Rafflecopter Giveaway:
Grand Prize $25 IP Gift Card + Multi-format eBook of Fortitude Smashed// Five winners receive the multi-format eBook

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A Free Dreamer Review: Fortitude Smashed by Taylor Brooke

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

After scientists stumbled across an anomalous human hormone present during moments of emotional intimacy, further research created the ability to harness the direction of living energy and pinpoint when two lines will merge. Personalized chips are now implanted beneath the thumbnails of every infant, where glowing numbers count down to the moment they will meet their soul mate. Fate is now a calculation.

But loving someone isn’t.

When Shannon Wurther, the youngest detective in Southern California, finds himself face-to-face with Aiden Maar, the reckless art thief Shannon’s precinct has been chasing for months, they are both stunned. Their Camellia Clocks have timed out, and the men are left with a choice—love one another or defy fate.

The idea of a sort of inbuilt clock counting down to Day X isn’t exactly a new idea. Usually, Day X marks the person’s death. In “Fortitude Smashed” the Camellia Clock counts down to the second when you meet the love of your life, your soulmate. I think that was an interesting take on things.

With the whole Camellia Clock and personalized chip set-up, I’d expected a Science Fiction story. What I got, however, was a contemporary story set in  present-day California.  I must admit, I was a bit disappointed by that. It almost seemed a little bit lazy to me, as if the author didn’t want to bother with coming up with a whole new world. Instead, she opted to set it in the present day and just added the Camellia Clocks. Consequently, there was very little worldbuilding involved. I would’ve liked to know how the whole Clock thing actually works and if there is a way to opt out of having that chip implanted.

Considering Shannon is a cop and Aiden is a thief, I’d expected lots of tension there. So I figured, even if there’s no SciFi plot there, at least there’s still gonna be lots of conflict. Unfortunately, there just wasn’t. Aiden stops his thievery pretty soon and the tension between the two is the usual romance-tension. I will say that I’m normally not a reader of contemporary romances, because I always feel like I need a little more than “just” a love story. And that’s just what “Fortitude Smashed” is: Just a contemporary love story.

I liked that both Aiden and Shannon had their issues. Especially Aiden struggled with mental illness and Shannon was wonderfully supportive. Neither of them was exactly perfect but they still worked together really well.

There were plenty of sex scenes and they were really hot, without being overly explicit. Taylor Brooke definitely has a way with words. All her descriptions are wonderful, no matter if she was writing about the landscape or body parts. She definitely also has a sense of humour and I found myself laughing out loud a lot.

Overall, “Fortitude Smashed” was a bit of a disappointment to me. I’d expected SciFi but got contempary. I’d expected a crime plot but got a “normal” love story. I guess I mostly just had the wrong expectations. As I’ve said before, I’m not a huge fan of contemporary romance novels and I probably wouldn’t have picked this up, if I’d known it wasn’t Science Fiction.

Still, this book did have its moments and I’m sure lovers of contemporary romance witha bit of a twist can and will enjoy this book. It just wasn’t for me.

Cover: I really like the cover. It looks very summery and is a nice change from the usual covers of M/M romance. And it matches the feel the story gave me.

Sales Links:

Amazon

Interlude Press

Barnes & Noble

Book Depository 

Book details:

ebook, 346 pages

Expected publication: September 21st 2017 by Interlude Press

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

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Rating:  4.5 stars out of 5

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Sales Links: Amazon | B&N  

 

Book Details:

ebook, 82 pages

Published: August 10, 2017 by Rainbow Ninja Press

Edition Language: English

Series: Hellhound Bound #1

On Tour: E.M. Hamill on Writing, and ‘Dali’, (author interview, excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Dali

Author: E.M. Hamill

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: 8/7/17

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 85200

Genre: science fiction, space travel, third gender, interspecies sex, kidnapping, genderfluid, space opera

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host E.M. Hamill here today. Thank you for taking time to sit in our author interview chair. The author also brought an excerpt and giveaway.  Don’t forget to check both out after the interview!

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~ Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words E.M Hamill Interview ~

 

  • Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand?

Computer. It keeps up between my brain and my fingers better than pen. I used to do data entry and I type really fast.

  • How long on average does it take you to write a book?

Six months for the first draft of a full length novel, usually. You can’t rush editing, though. I average about a year before it’s ready to try and publish.

  • Do you ever get writer’s block? If so, how do you deal with it?

Oh, gods, yes…just keep plugging away, is all I can do. Even a few words a day is better than none. Eventually it cracks. I may start an entirely new section just to get flowing again. Worst case scenario, walk away from it for a week or so and then come back.

  • What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?

Writing is such a subjective thing. There are books I disliked, which were beautifully written and are someone else’s absolute favorite books. A review is simply the manifestation of personal taste. When someone’s taste coincides with mine and they love the story I’ve told, it’s a warm and wonderful thing. A bad review can really crush my ego, but if it’s constructive, I try to take those things into account.

  • What is your favorite motivational phrase?

Be the change you want to see in the world.

  • What is your favorite quote?

“We are the music makers,

And we are the dreamers of dreams,

Wandering by lone sea-breakers,

And sitting by desolate streams;—

World-losers and world-forsakers,

On whom the pale moon gleams:

Yet we are the movers and shakers

Of the world for ever, it seems. – Arthur O’Shaughnessy”

Synopsis

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

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

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

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

Excerpt

Dalí
E.M. Hamill © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One

Human beings are assholes. I should know. I’d become one in the last few months.

You’d think the near extinction of our entire species after the pandemics and global poisoning our last world war inflicted might let us all pull together. Even with galactic war breathing down our necks, when almost everyone realized the human race constituted less of a threat to each other than some of the other things out there, we continued to be dicks.

Those attitudes started problems—in particular, Europan attitudes, of the New Puritan variety. I no longer possessed the self-control or sufficient fucks to avoid adding fuel to their fire.

His voice floated over the excited din of the crowd and the pregame show on the holographic screens above the bar.

“Abomination.”

I sighed and turned my head. The Team Europa-jacketed hulk next to me exuded a cloud of loathing against my empathic nets. I raised one eyebrow at him.

“Really? You can’t come up with anything more original after fifteen minutes of shit-talking?” The conversation behind me started as a diatribe against the rally for third-gender rights, held outside the arena and glimpsed on the main holo screen. I didn’t pay attention to either until the comments got louder and were meant for my ears.

“Faggot.”

“How very twentieth century of you.” I downed another of the six shots the robotic bartender dispensed in front of me. I wasn’t looking for trouble, only anesthetic. Outside, a cluster of media bots interviewing star athletes had driven me into the bar to hide. The presence of mechanized paparazzi still unsettled me. I didn’t want them in my face.

The annual Sol Series tournament games between Mars and Europa bordered on legendary for their savagery. No one took rugby as seriously as a gritty Martian colonist or a repressed New Puritan, and the bar overflowed with both, waiting for the station’s arena to open. Spectators gathered around us in the bar, drawn by the promise of a fight, glittering eyes fixed on us. My empathic senses drowned in their excitement and fear, even with the numbing effects of synthetic alcohol.

He invaded my personal space and leaned closer, face centimeters from mine. His breath carried a trace of mint and steroid vapors. Great. A huffer, his molecules all hyped-up on testosterone. He stood over a head taller than me, about twenty-five kilos heavier. His fists would do damage. His minions stood at either side, more meat than smarts. Neither spoke. Their mouths hung open while he harassed me, and I expected shuttle flies to crawl out at any time.

“You’re nothing but an A-sex freak.”

“Better. Still lacks originality.” I threw back the last shot. “How about androgynous freak? Hermaphrodite? No, those words are probably too big for you.”

The titter of laughter from the crowd only pissed him off. “Go fuck yourself.”

“Technically, I can’t. But I can fuck anybody else in this room. Can you?”

Shocked laughter rose from the circle of spectators. The guy clenched his fists and flexed his muscles. I continued, “Do I scare you?” I swiveled on the stool to face him and changed posture, crossing my legs in demure modesty. My voice rose into a husky, suggestive alto as I leaned one elbow on the bar. “Or do you want to find out what’s under my kilt?”

I hit a nerve. His eyes went blank, black, and his rage flooded over my senses. The crowd gasped and took a step back. Minion One caught his rising fist and spoke. “Jon, don’t you know who…”

Jon’s lip curled. “It’s an atrocity. It should have been killed at birth.”

“I prefer the term changeling.” I stood, and the circle around us got wider. The potent mix of hormones surged through my bloodstream as they altered my chemical makeup and bulked strategic upper body muscles. I let a cold smile form on my lips and dropped into a Zereid martial arts stance. Jon took half a step back as I became more definitively male in ways he recognized. “Oh, go ahead and hit me, by all means. A good fight is almost as good as sex.”

“Break it up.”

The crowd parted into nervous brackets with security’s arrival. Caniberi lumbered into the midst of the circle with the boneless roll space-born started to get after generations in orbit. He cast a sour eye in my direction.

“Dalí, why is it always you?”

“Just lucky, I guess.”

The constable growled at me. He turned to Jon. “You can’t play in the tournament if I throw you in the brig for violence. Move out.”

Jon stared at me a minute longer. The threat of not getting to beat the hell out of some hedonistic Martians made him reconsider. He and the minions moved away, but he threw one more sentence in my face like a javelin.

“You’ll be alone, changeling.”

The truth in his words knifed through me all the way to my gut and cut me deeper than any microsteel blade. “I’ll be waiting.”

Caniberi squinted at me as the crowd began to disperse. “Dalí, do I need to talk with the Captain?”

“No, sir. Leave my father out of this.” He’d dealt with enough from me already. My mother was now away on the diplomatic mission I’d been suspiciously—but rightly—deemed unfit to assume. Without Mom there to buffer the uncomfortable presence of my grief between us, Dad was lost.

“One of these days you’re going to push the wrong buttons and end up hurt, or worse. Some things the medical officer can’t fix.” His gaze softened. “Drinking and getting the shit beaten out of you won’t bring them back.”

“I’m well aware of that, sir.” My voice came out sharper than I intended. One of the best officers on the station, Caniberi had known me a little over a decade, and he never hesitated to kick my ass if I deserved it, no matter what gender I chose at the moment. This time, he just stared at me with an odd expression. His pity broke in tepid surges against my senses.

“Get out of here. I don’t want to arrest you again.”

I turned and left the bar. With the bots still hovering outside, I ducked my head to foil their facial recognition apps and fought my way upstream from the arena.

The shakes hit me in the aftermath of the hormone flood. The synthetic alcohol in my system warred with my normalizing chem levels and sour nausea threatened. I grabbed one of the rails lining the corridor and took several shuddering breaths as my muscles cramped, rearranged, and settled back into the lean, sexless frame where I am most at home.

The crowd jostled around me and headed toward the game. My empathic nets buzzed dully with their anticipation and excitement, but the sense of being watched pushed at the back of my mind. A familiar presence tripped a memory and an emotion.

The watcher knew me.

I turned my head. The Zereid made his way toward me, head and shoulders above everyone else, long, muscular limbs wading with passive grace through a river of human bodies as the crowd shifted for him. An eddy of cautious glances swirled and vanished downstream.

Oily quicksilver eyes without lids narrowed, their shape signifying the equivalent of a smile. His resonant voice buzzed in my ears. “He is the size of a cargo bot, you know. Even the arts we learned can’t change gravity. He might kill you.”

“I won’t let it go that far.” I shrugged. I actually hoped I’d bitten off more than I could swallow this time.

But the presence of my childhood friend undid me. A lump rose in my throat, pressure in my head, and I closed the distance between us. He gathered me in against cool flesh. I was locked in arms capable of crushing a human like a piece of foil but which held me with careful tenderness. Against his enormous chest, I felt like a small child, even though in developmental terms, Gor and I are the same age. His concern brushed my mind with affectionate familiarity.

“I see you, Dalí,” he murmured. “I mourn with you.”

I breathed in the scent of Zereid. Gor smelled of his homeworld—rain and earth and copper clung to his leathery turquoise skin and short, downy fur even in absentia. Homesickness washed over me.

I’d lived on Zereid most of my life. My mother, Marina Urquhart, served as ambassador for fifteen years. Dad’s career required he return to Sol Fed, and rather than separate our family, Mom resigned her appointment. My differences were clear, even to my third-gender mother, but there, we were aliens. I wondered what it would be like to have more friends who blinked.

When we got back to our own kind, I found out I was still an alien.

Gor pulled away. In the tarnished silver of his eyes, like antique mirrors, my unkempt reflection stared back at me. His dismay at my mental and physical state, impossible to miss, sighed against my mind.

“How did you hear?” I said.

“Your mother. “

“Of course.”

His head cocked. “I tried to come sooner, but the travel permissions into the colonies are daunting.”

“No, I understand.” I wanted to sit and talk with Gor. I eyed the bar, but couldn’t go back in there yet. “Come on. We can go to Dad’s quarters. He’ll be on the bridge.” My own cramped space wouldn’t accommodate Gor’s height or his bulk.

We squeezed into the private lift and rode up to the command deck. My thumbprint opened the door to the Captain’s suite, and Gor made a sound of wonder as he ducked through the port.

Three levels of transparent alloy shielding overlooked the U-curve of Rosetta Station. Shuttles buzzed in and out of bays like honeybees in the hydroponics domes, ferrying passengers to huge starliners docked on the outer limbs.

“An inspiring view.” Gor gazed out the window.

Ochre planet-shine from Jupiter’s face illuminated the room, the swirling storms in the gas giant’s atmosphere familiar to me now. I never found them beautiful, only an echo of the chaos in my head. I dropped into one of the chairs facing the viewport.

Gor eased himself into the seat opposite me. “You’re in crisis, Dalí.”

I couldn’t hide anything from him. Even if I wanted to, he was a telepath; his empathic senses much more attuned than my own modest abilities. Our friendship spanned far too many years, our trust well established. Lying to him would betray our oath of crechemates, a Zereid custom similar to old Earth tradition of blood brothers.

“Today would be the second anniversary of our wedding.” I stared at my hands. I still wore a ring on each of them, the ones Gresh and Rasida gave me.

“I remember. The love between you and your mates deserves celebration.”

Triad marriages with two members of the same sex and one of the opposite were common. The female population had not rebounded as fast as the male. But mine was the first triad marriage to include a changeling spouse under the new laws we helped to bring about. The legislation was both praised and vilified by hundreds of other citizens while we exchanged vows beneath the domes of the lunar capitol. My parents, Gresh’s mother, and Gor celebrated with us. Rasida’s mother refused to attend the wedding of her only daughter.

The three of us had been inseparable, invincible. Without them, I staggered, incomplete.

Our child would have been three months old now.

“Don’t say it.”

Gor’s eyes elongated in confusion. “What?”

“That they wouldn’t want me to be like this.”

“I did not come here to admonish you for grieving.”

I gave a short laugh. “What did you come here to scold me for?”

“For ceasing to live. Abandoning the larger destiny for which you trained.”

“Ambassador?” I dug a vape out of the pocket of my coat and thumbed the switch, inhaling illegal chemicals deep into my lungs. His gentle reproach against my empathic nets rebuked me without a word.

“You were sure of your calling as a peacemaker six months ago.” Zereid reverence toward conciliation is, ironically, unforgiving and unbending.

“I was certain of a lot of things then.” I exhaled a cloud of spicy mist. If any of the scent remained, I’d catch hell later for vaping in Dad’s quarters.

“There are always those who work against peace, even in their own hearts. As you are doing now.”

“I don’t know if I believe in peace anymore.”

“Because you do not possess it.”

“Stop feeding me platitudes, brother.”

He spread six-fingered hands wide. “What would you have me do? Tell me. Your pain is mine to share, beloved friend. Allow me to help you. Your rage is fearsome but undirected. You point it at yourself.”

“I was supposed to die, not them.” I cursed the terrorists who missed their target by eight minutes. When I decided not to address the media bots and chose instead to hold a private farewell with my family, I put myself ahead of schedule. I should have died with them. Even though the bastards failed to kill me, they destroyed me.

“Come home.” Gor waited for me to answer. I didn’t. He continued. “Madam Ambassador thinks Zereid would be a place of healing for you. You can study at the temple with me again, be teacher and student. This year’s crop of younglings is a challenge.” His vocal pipes fluted in laughter. “As we were.”

“That isn’t much of an incentive.” A grin tried to tug at the corners of my mouth, stiff and out of practice with the expression. “I’ll think about it.”

“Will you?” His doubt hovered between us.

The port slid open again and my father thundered in—Captain Paul Tamareia—“The Captain” to everyone on the station, even me at times. I stood at automatic attention, swaying a little. Gor rose too.

“What the hell were you thinking?” he demanded. “And turn that goddamned vape off.”

I complied. “A misunderstanding, sir.”

“Misunderstanding, my ass. Six shots of the synthetic piss that passes for whiskey says it wasn’t.” He turned to Gor and bowed. “Welcome aboard Rosetta Station, honored friend. Forgive me for not greeting you first.”

“Captain Tamareia.” Gor bowed back.

“How long will you be staying? I insist you use my quarters as your own. Stop by the constable’s office and he will register you for my door. I’m afraid most of the cabins are small, and we’re overcrowded with the tournament.”

“My thanks, sir. My travel clearance is good for the next two weeks, and then I must return.” Gor nodded at us. “I should collect my belongings now. I will go to your constable on the way back.”

“It’s good to see you, Gor.”

“You as well, Captain.” He put one enormous hand on my shoulder. “Dalí, please think about what I said.”

Gor let himself out. Dad and I both understood he made a graceful exit so we could shout at each other in peace. Zereids don’t carry a whole lot of baggage. They don’t wear clothes.

“Did you need to pick a fight with the number eight of the bloody Europan rugby team?” He tossed his personal data device on the table. “Do you even know who he is?”

“Other than a prick, no.”

“Jon Batterson. Does the name ring a bell at all?”

“Batterson.” I blinked through mental processes made sluggish by the vape. “As in President Batterson?”

“Light dawns. The heir apparent to his self-righteous little robotics empire.” He ran both hands through his hair. I inherited my dark-brown waves from him, but Dad’s customary high-and-tight showed little hint of curl. Mine now fell to my shoulders in a shaggy, tangled mane. “Do you realize the mess I would have had to clean up if you really let loose on him? Even if he is built like the ass end of a freighter, you could put him on the injured list.”

“It wasn’t my intent.”

“From what Caniberi told me, you were about to unleash hell on him. You sure stirred up some crap. The president is coming to the game tonight. The constable didn’t know who he was either, or he might have thrown you in the brig to prove a point.” He sat down with a thud on the steel bench and sighed. “Dalí. Come here.”

I sat next to him and braced myself.

“It’s been six months. Your leave from the diplomatic corps is finished, and if you don’t return, you’ll be dismissed. This has to stop. When you go back to your life, you’re going to encounter people like Batterson on a daily basis. Your reputation and your career are at stake. You can’t do this anymore.”

“That life’s over.”

“Don’t throw it away. You did so much in so short a time. You have a gift for understanding, and you will be a formidable ambassador. Sol Fed needs you in the negotiation chamber at the Remoliad. Luna is a better place because of your work.”

“Because of Gresh’s work. Because of Sida and our child. They were my reasons for everything. I’m not sure I feel as strongly for the rest of the human race.”

“Then you need to find another way to deal with their deaths. I won’t watch you destroy your future. You worked too hard for it.”

“Tell me how, sir.” My fury rose. “Tell me how I can deal with it because I’m looking for an exit.”

He stiffened. “What do you mean?”

“Nothing.” I rose and stalked away. He started to call after me, but the communication tones went off.

“Captain Tamareia, report to the bridge. The president’s shuttle is incoming.”

“On my way. Dalí!”

I ignored him and ducked through the port.

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

E.M. Hamill is a nurse by day, sci fi and fantasy novelist by night. She lives in eastern Kansas with her family, where they fend off flying monkey attacks and prep for the zombie apocalypse. She also writes young adult material under the name Elisabeth Hamill. Her first novel, SONG MAGICK, won first place for YA fantasy in the 2014 Dante Rossetti Awards for Young Adult Fiction.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Blog

Tour Schedule

8/7      MM Good Book Reviews

8/8      Love Bytes reviews 

8/8      Boy Meets Boy Reviews

8/9      Bayou Book Junkie

8/9      Divine Magazine

8/10    MillsyLovesBooks

8/10    The Novel Approach 

8/11    My Fiction Nook

8/11    Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews

8/11    Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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An Ali Audiobook Review: Vassily the Beautiful (The ESTO Universe) by Angel Martinez and Greg Boudreaux (Narrator)

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Vassily Belikov, composer and pampered son of privilege, suffered neurological damage in the accident that killed his father. Resentful of being treated as an invalid, he lives as a recluse, dependent on his mother. That changes the day she brings home a new husband with two sons of his own.

When deep-space pirates capture Vassily’s mother, he’s left to the mercy of his cruel, amoral stepfather. Fighting addiction and his physical shortcomings, he’s forced to seek out the criminal mastermind Baba Yaga for a crucial piece of equipment. While she agrees to deal with him if he beats his Exoticus addiction, paranoia and mysterious intentions infuse her household. Drawn to her fierce, suspicious youngest son, certain his actions are all carefully observed, Vassily must find the courage to face both his fears and his desires if he expects to survive.
 
I wasn’t sure about this book at the beginning.  Vassily was very fragile and made some decisions that didn’t make any sense to me.  Some of the abuse by his step-father was also a bit hard to read.  But when Vassily heads across the city to find the infamous Baba Yaga the story just took off out of the gate.  I loved it from then until the end.  
 
This is a sci-fi setting but it is not heavy on that aspect.  I mention that because I’m not a big sci-fi fan but I feel like there were just small aspects to this and really it just felt like a story in another universe.  It was easy to read and the world building was detailed enough for you to get the feel for how and where they live, but wasn’t overwhelming and didn’t overshadow the story.
 
I think the author did a great job with the characters.  There were a lot and they all stood out as individuals.  The villains were wonderfully bad, Vassily, once he starts to stand up for himself, was sweet and charming, and Baba Yaga and her sons were just awesome.  They were the highlight of the story for me.  
 
I loved the pairing of Vassily and Sumerki.   It was such a great opposites attract pairing.  Vassily soothed and mellowed Sumi out and Sumi’s fierceness gave Vassily the strength he needed.  
 
This audiobook was narrated by Greg Boudreaux and I thought he did a great job.  There were a lot of characters so there were a lot of voices, plus there were a lot of different accents.  I felt like he did them all really well.  This was my first time listening to this narrator but he will be going on my list of people to look for in future audiobooks.
 
Overall I enjoyed everything about this.  It was a unique plot and a sweet love story.  By the end I was fully invested in the characters and I really hope this author will revisit this world one day and give both of Sumi’s brothers stories also.
 
Cover:  I think the cover is nicely done.  I think it sets the feel for the book really well and the character on the cover fits the MC.  I also think the color scheme is attractive and eye catching.
Sales Links:  Mischief Corner Books | Amazon
Book Details:
ebook, 2nd Edition, 216 pages
Published June 11th 2014 by Mischief Corner Books LLC (first published April 2nd 2012)
ASINB00KWOP7NY
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesThe ESTO Universe

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Shadow Fray (Shadow Fray: Round One) by Bradley Lloyd

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

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

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

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

Shadow Fray (Shadow Fray: Round One) by Bradley Lloyd is a terrific story.  It’s just the sort of book that gets me thinking on so many levels and that’s due primarily to the excellent world building here.  Lloyd has created a future earth where a catastrophic event, now called The Thinning, has raised the water levels globally, sinking all coastal cities and lands, shattering governments, technologies and making the ground so  toxic that anyone who lives on the surface slowly dies, succumbing to a madness and “ground sickness”.  Those left, reformed into inland cities, mainly Chicago where the government is centered.  People live in the high rises left, the higher the floor the better (and the wealthier the people).  Some technologies were saved from the “before times”, so internet, mobile phones, TV (using only the old tapes of shows and movies stored, nothing new has been produced except Shadow Fray games, more on that soon), cars, trucks and even trains are running.   Farms are run again by the large companies like Exxon and DuPont on raised buildings and guarded by drones, as it everything else.   Some people (the Shutters) never leave their condos, the idea being make your living area and building self sufficient.

Women are few and highly regarded, the toxins in the ground having effected reproduction and gender ratio.  People wanting children have produced babies via utero experiments that turn out to be unis, children with both sexes.  They have the ability to choose a sex when older but are barren.  Most choose to be women another interesting element.  Homosexuality is not only not tolerated but outlawed as they are “non breeders” in a world with few children.  This is a hard, toxic world and for many it’s getting worse.

Lloyd makes us believe in this world because so many of the elements are only stages and layers away from what the scientists have been warning will happen with climate change.  The author folds fact with his imaginative world building and its works, horrifically, on so many levels.  In this book, we don’t get the answers as to why it has happened, but Lloyd says we will in the coming stories.

Then there is the Shadow Fray, a martial arts competition that deadly and underground.  Moved from location to location, with only the fighters and handlers in the know (supposedly), there is so much danger and mystery attached here, that the suspense just builds and builds with each chapter with no let up.  That’s because the more we find out about the Shadow Fray and who runs it, the worse it gets and the more mysteries pile up around it.  Amazing.

Then finally there is the forbidden romance between Hale and Justin.  That takes time to set up and become believable.  Remember it’s forbidden here so the men have to come to grips with their homosexuality too.  Every meeting, every touch?  Could be their last.  Plus each character is so beautifully written.  One at the top of his game, teetering on the brink of being pulled down.  The other?  Being pushed to the top of the very increasingly nasty pile.  And all around them are some of the most intriguing cast of secondary  characters you will want to meet from Justin’s twin sister to his non-speaking brother, to Gris and Hale’s tank thug brother too.  I could go on and on about the people here that match the world building.

Which brings me to the ending.  Argh!!!!

In this title, notice it says Round One (not so in other titles).  Well, it sort of ends like the ringing of a bell at the end of a fight.  Round One done.  No completion, nothing brought to an ending. It sort of halts with one character riding off.  To the next story that we are waiting for. Yes, its frustrating.  But I understand from the author it’s already at the publishers so hopefully we won’t have to wait too long.

The ending notwithstanding,  Shadow Fray is an excellent gritty, compelling story.  I can’t wait to dive into the second one.  Pick up this one if you love alternate universe’s, dystopian societies, mysteries and romance.  Meet you at the second book!

 

Cover art by  Anna Sikorska is amazing.  I love the details and the model.

Sales Links

Available for Purchase at

 

 

Book Details:

ebook, 284 pages
Expected publication: May 30th 2017 by DSP Publications
ISBN139781635333602
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesShadow Fray #1

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

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

Available for Purchase at

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

✒︎

Let’s Play! The Games of Shadow Fray

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Blurb

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

 

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

 

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

Exclusive Excerpt

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

Handwriting Practice

The Person I Look Up to Most

To: Sister Tim

From: Charlie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My brother tells me that too.

From: Charlie

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

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

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

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About the Author

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

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

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

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

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

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

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