Barb, A Zany Old Lady Review: Candy Man by Amy Lane

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

The Candy Man coverAdam Macias is virtually homeless when he arrives at his cousin Rico’s apartment to housesit/petsit while Rico is away for six months. Out of a job, money and a place to live, even his car broke down on the way to Sacramento to do this favor for Rico, a favor which Adam sees as his last chance to redeem himself after a string of life disasters, including outing himself just before he left the military.

All he wants to do is survive, but suddenly he finds himself on the receiving end of good things—including a job, a boss and co-workers who like him, people who like his art work, and best of all—a boyfriend.

When Finn Stewart comes bouncing into his life as a happy-go-lucky young man who just exudes positive energy, Adam is at first confused and taken aback, but eventually he fully embraces the fact that he likes Finn, in fact, he needs Finn in a way he’s never needed anyone before. All his life he’s been the boy who was not wanted by either his mother or his grandmother. He’s been stereotyped as a troublemaker, not worth anyone’s time or attention. Joining the Army was his attempt to show his value, but when he returned home and shared with his family that he was gay, his grandmother literally slammed the door in his face and reiterated how just how worthless and useless he was.

Because of his history of low self-esteem from listening to those negative messages, it’s hard for Adam to accept the positive things now happening in his life, but Finn—bright, cheerful Finn, brings Adam hope. One of my favorite early scenes occurs when he’s kissing Finn and Finn tells him that they’ll kiss more, but not tonight. And Adam realizes that he’ll do whatever Finn wants. Paraphrasing Adam’s thoughts–he had no moral code about sex but he does have a moral code about Finn, and whatever Finn says is the code.

Slowly but surely, tough-guy Adam who hasn’t had any value to anyone suddenly has value to others, and he realizes as he’s smiling for the second time one day that the smiling and camaraderie he’s experiencing at work and with Finn is “softening the parts of his soul made brittle by pain”. I love Amy Lane’s descriptions of the emotional complexities of everyday living.

This book is not long, but it’s packed with a powerful message of hope and love as we witness Adam healing from the hurt and pain he’s lived with for years as he receives the positive layers of energy and love being shared with him on all fronts. There’s fun and whimsy in the form of his boss Darrin who knew that Adam would come into their lives when he read the Pixy Stix, his form of reading tea leaves. And there’s both comedy and tragedy as Adam copes with caring for Rico’s pets—from the big, overeager boxer named Clopper to the crazy old cat named Gonzo who dies on Adam’s watch. Then there’s Finn’s family—healthy, robust, cheerful, loveable, and everything you’d hope for in the ideal family to help Adam heal. And Finn? He’s adorable, strong, loving, and as supportive as a rock for Adam as he finds his way to happiness.

I highly recommend this one to all lovers of M/M romance, especially if you love a damaged hero who’s able to heal with the help of an upbeat, positive character. There’s no denying that there’s angst in this tale, but there’s love galore and so many positives that I feel energized from reading it. I sure would love to see a sequel from this one!

Very highly recommended.

Cover Art by Paul Richmond— Primarily depicts the small shopping area where the candy store is located, lots of candy, and Clopper, the dog— all great representations of the story. In addition, the bright colorful cover conveys the “feel good” energy that’s found within the story itself.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press                 All Romance (ARe)        Amazon            buy it here

Book Details:

ebook, 136 pages
Published December 3rd 2014 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781632166791
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://www.greenshill.com/

A MelanieM Review: A Taste for Poison (Memory of Scorpions #3) by Aleksandr Voinov

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Even a king gets stung when he reaches for a scorpion.

ATasteForPoison_200x300Once the leader of the band of mercenaries known as the Scorpions, Adrastes is now King and a changed man.  Ruler of two countries, along with his sister/wife, King Adrastes has just survived an assassination, just barely.  In poor health and still recovering, Adrastes trusts no one and is determined to find the assassin and make the individual pay.  Wary of everyone now, including allies and friends, King Adrastes prepares his kingdom for war against the only kingdom and ruler outside his control, the Elder of Vededrin.  But not everyone supports Adrastes, including the man who loved and rescued him, Kendras.

Kendras, former lover to Adrastes and leader of the Scorpions, no longer blindly supports his king.  He’s watched Adrastes change and the orders from the King are making him uneasy and reluctant to obey.  And to go to war with Adrastes against Vededrin just might mean the end of the Scorpions for all time.  And replacing Adrastes in Kendras’ bed and heart is Graukar, newly appointed general to the king, an event the King is not happy with.  Kendras must figure out how to balance responsibilities and loyalties in a world gone increasingly complex and grey.  And quickly before someone he loves is injured.

As Kendras tries to work through his thoughts and feelings, a new threat arises to King Adrastes rule.  An anonymous outrider wearing a mask calling himself Death foments rebellion in the mountains, aided by a prophecy that promises he’ll stop the Black King.   Ordered to find and kill the man called Death, Kendras leaves feeling unsettled, uncertain and sure of only one thing…his love for Graukar.

From the moment I read the first book in this series, Scorpion (Memory of Scorpions #1), I knew that Kendras and the Scorpions would lead me on a remarkable journey.    It’s been a brutal, raw, and violent saga and one of the best in its genre.  The life of a mercenary is a hard and savage one, unsparring in the injuries and deaths that come as part of the profession.  Only the loyalty to each other and the tight rules and rich history of the Scorpions, make this band of soldiers a family.  Voinov’s saga begins with Kendras, his entrance into the Scorpions, his scant memories of his childhood, and the heartbreak and pain of finding and then losing Adrastes, not to another lover, but to the kingship itself.  Told from Kendras’ point of view, the character grows from a soldier with a single minded focus and goal to one floundering amongst the political seas at court.   It’s a mesmerizing and arduous scramble as Kendras rises up the social scale, pulled along by Adrastes, whether he wants to go or not.  Kendras must grow as a character and Voinov delivers that mental and emotional growth in spurts that come with despair along with great joy.

A Taste of Poison (Memory of Scorpions #3)  finds Adrastes suffering the effects of an assassination attempt, one that profoundly changes the King’s outlook on those around him and accelerates his goal of expanding his rule to all three kingdoms.  The man who rules is not the man Kendras followed and loved.  That dichotomy is cause for depression, and uncertainty, along troubling thoughts of disloyalty  is adding to unrest among the Scorpions and Kendras.  Voinov has made Kendras a man of honor and depth and to see and feel him floundering and pulled by this faction and that both enriches this story and ups the suspense for the welfare of all involved.

Everything is heightened here in A Taste of Poison.  Goals, loyalties, love, trust…the bar is now so high and the repercussions of any deviation or conflict are swift, exacting, and devastating.  Voinov reveals more of Kendras’ past, unknown even to Kendras  Also revealed are hidden alliances, and schemes to depose one ruler or another.  There are no black and white sides, only grey as Kendras has been slow to learn.  And with every startling exposition and shattering event, we are pulled deeper into the lives of all the Scorpions and their leader, Kendras.

Voinov has delivered a saga rich in character development, alive with action and battle sequences, and complete with the horrors that love and jealousy can and does inflict on all involved.  Aleksandr Voinov has said that the quote from Leo Tolstoy: “The best stories don’t come from “good vs. bad” but “good vs. good.” helped shape not only the characters of  Adrastes and Kendras but the stories themselves.  Only a tilt of the prism or a slight change of perspective will make either character “good” or “evil”.  Is it evil for Adrastes to want to solidify the 3 warring kingdoms into one for the betterment of all?  At what price is that not acceptable?  Is Kendras’s feelings and actions betrayal or loyalty?  Whose goals are the ones that should be honored by personal sacrifice and love?  That Voinov is able to bring all facets to life in each of these strong personalities is not only a marvelous achievement but makes this a series worth reading and remembering.

The Memory of Scorpions series is astonishingly inventive, beautifully crafted and fiercely passionate. From the bloody sands of battle to the lethal layers and complex rituals of court, Alexandr Voinov brings his world and characters to life word by word, page by page using vivid imagery and an attention to detail that leaves no construct of person or kingdom feeling shallow or undone.  Just masterful.

I don’t know if this is the end of the Scorpions.  Voinov is silent about future stories.  I hope not.  There is so much here I still need to know.  The Black King still lives…if the prophecy is correct, who will bring him down?  What is ahead and possible for Kendras and the Scorpions?  This amazing story and series begs the questions.  Hopefully Aleksandr Voinov will answer.  Meanwhile, pick up this wondrous series and get acquainted with some of the most powerful and engaging characters around.  One of Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words “must reads” and highly recommended stories of 2014.

Cover art by Reese Dante.  Love that cover, powerful and perfect image that speaks to the story within.

Sales Links:   Riptide Publishing    All Romance eBooks (ARe)     Amazon      A Taste of Poison

Book Details:

alternative world, gritty fantasy, warrior mercenaries

ebook, 265 pages
Expected publication: October 13th 2014 by Riptide Publishing
ISBN139781626491557
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/a-taste-for-poison
seriesMemory of Scorpions #3

Books in the Memory of Scorpions series in the order they were written and should be read:

Scorpion (Memory of Scorpions, #1)
Lying with Scorpions (Memory of Scorpions, #2)
A Taste for Poison (Memory of Scorpions, #3)

Scorpion coverLying with Scorpions coverATasteForPoison_200x300

Contest and Shock & Awe Blog Tour with Abigail Roux

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Good morning all.  Today ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords is happy to play host to the Shock & Awe Virtual Book Tour featuring one of our favorite authors, Abigail Roux and her new Sidewinder series.  I am so excited about this book and the new couple of Nick and Kelly.  They won my heart immediately and they will win yours too.  Shock & Awe is one of Scattered Thoughts Best Novels of 2013.  You don’t want to miss this one.  And here is bunch more reasons to acquaint yourself with Nick, Kelly, and the rest of the Sidewinders:

Hello everyone! Welcome to the Shock & Awe blog tour! Thank you to ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords for hosting today. If you’re following along, you might find this handy dandy schedule of use, and you might be interested in keeping up with me each day, because I’ve got a couple goodies to give away. In celebration of Nick and Kelly’s coming out, so to speak, I’ve got three of their Heart and Clover T-shirts for three lucky commenters. And I’ve got five sets of trading cards with original artwork and character work-ups, something I intend to add new cards to every year, which makes this first year’s cards pretty important if you’re an obsessive collector like I am.

Author Bio: 

Abigail Roux was born and raised in North Carolina. A past volleyball star who specializes in sarcasm and painful historical accuracy, she currently spends her time coaching high school volleyball and investigating the mysteries of single motherhood. Any spare time is spent living and dying with every Atlanta Braves and Carolina Panthers game of the year.
Abigail has a daughter, Little Roux, who is the light of her life, a boxer, four rescued cats who play an ongoing live-action variation of Call of Duty throughout the house, a certifiable extended family down the road, and a cast of thousands in her head.
Connect with Abi:

Shock & Awe Blurb:

Shock & Awe CoverAfter barely surviving a shootout in New Orleans, Sidewinder medic Kelly Abbott has to suffer through a month of recovery before he can return home to Colorado. He’s not surprised when fellow Sidewinder Nick O’Flaherty stays with him in New Orleans. Nor is he surprised when Nick travels home with him to help him get back on his feet—after all, years on the same Marine Force Recon team bonded the men in ways that only bleeding for a brother can. He’s very surprised, though, when Nick humors his moment of curiosity and kisses him.

Nick knows all of Kelly’s quirks and caprices, so the kiss was a low-risk move on his part . . . or so he thought. But what should’ve been a simple moment unleashes a flood of confusing emotions and urges that neither man is prepared to address.

Now, Kelly and Nick must figure out what they mean to each other—friends and brothers in arms, or something even deeper?—before the past can come back to ruin their tenuous future.

You can read an excerpt and purchase Shock & Awe today from Riptide!

Contest Giveaway:
Abi is giving away some great goodies along the tour, including three of their Heart and Clover T-shirts for three lucky commenters and five sets of trading cards with original artwork and character work-ups. Just leave a comment at any of the stops along the tour to enter. The contest closes on November 25th.

Contest Rules:

  • By entering the giveaway, you’re confirming that you are at least 18 years old.
  • Please note that the contest is open worldwide, winners will be chosen tour-wide and comments left with an email address will be entered to win.
  • Winners will be selected by random number. No purchase necessary to win. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning.
  •  Winners may be announced on the blog following the contest. By entering the contest you are agreeing to allow your name to be posted and promoted as the contest winner by ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords.
  • Prizes will be distributed following the giveaway Riptide Publishing..
  • By entering you are agreeing to hold ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords harmless if the prize or giveaway in some way negatively impacts the winner.
  • Readers may only enter once for each contest. Duplicate entries for the same giveaway will be ignored. In the event of technical problems with the blog during the contest, every effort will be made to extend the contest deadline to allow for additional entries.
  • Void where prohibited by law.

 

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