Review: Ghosts of Bourbon Street by Rowan Speedwell

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Ghosts of Bourbon StreetPaul Thibodeaux is stuck, his life in stasis and he doesn’t know how to break out of the funk he is in.  Paul spends his nights bar-tending at the New Orleans family owned and run gay bar and his spare time reading or picking up one night stands.  Increasingly those anonymous “dates” are preceded by an enormous amount of alcohol and followed by a morning’s worth of recovery.  And although Jean-Thom’s, his bar, features male strippers, Paul has never looked beyond their feet, preferring to stay isolated in his self imposed shell to his brother and friend’s concern.

The building that houses both the bar and the family apartments is full of whispers and faint sounds that wake Paul in the night and kept him company as a child.  And although Paul’s adult self has closed himself off, they still linger and watch over him.  When one of the bar’s dancer’s finds his way into the garden behind the bar, it signals a change in both their lives that neither either expected but  both desperately need.

New Orleans is such a unique and rich setting for a story.  Full of history and charm, music and life spill over the streets into the buildings and gardens that are the old section of the city.  New Orleans’s colorful past and architecture calls out for a supernatural treatment and Rowen Speedwell answers with her short story Ghosts of Bourbon Street.  

There is so much I enjoyed about this story.  Speedwell’s characters are well drawn, especially Paul Thibodeaux, a young man who loses himself in books and drink rather than face life and his future.  We find him at a time when Paul must either move forward or be lost to alcohol.  We are given just enough background on Paul to help us understand what brought him to this  moment.  His efforts at college and the manner in which the character fell into his current situation make Paul is a totally believable character.  The same goes for Michael, the dancer, with his own set of problems and decisions to make.  I thought his character had some really lovely touches, starting with his beautifully pedicured feet, the first thing that Paul recognizes about him.

Ghosts and New Orleans go together like bourbon and water so putting them together in a story just doubles the pleasure for a reader.  I loved the ghosts Speedwell has created for her story. I only wish we had gotten not only more appearances by them but a better telling of the ghostly history and connections to the family.  The gay bar, Jean-Thom’s, is worthy of its own story since Speedwell tells us that it has been a gay bar since it first opened.  Each dancer is surely worthy of their own story and it would make a delightful series.

The connection here between Paul and Michael, such as it is, is too rushed for me to call it a romance.  One night, one sexual, emotional connection, and then perhaps a romance.  This is definitely a story full of possibilities instead of finalities, which realistically is the way to go considering the length of the story.  Could this story have used more length to infuse time and backstory to the characters?  Certainly but the flavor and supernatural air of Ghosts of Bourbon Street make this a story to recommend.

Cover by Jared Rackler certainly conveys the spooky charm of the city and the story.  Well done.

Book Details:

ebook, 73 pages
Published November 29th 2013 by MLR Press
edition language English

Scattered Thoughts Best Books of 2013

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ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords Presents:

best-books of 2013

Time for Scattered Thoughts to look back at all the wonderful books read and reviewed in 2013 and try to pick those stories that stood out the most among all the many stories I read.  As always it was a hard thing to do because there were so many this year that crowded at the top.  How to choose between Sarah Black’s The General and the Horse-Lord and her sequel, The General and the Elephant Clock of Al-Jazeri?  Or Ariel Tachna’s Outlast the Night and her Conquer the Flames?  It was only by the mm (seems reasonable) that the latter book for each won out.parabook

Some authors did end up with two books in my lists, whether it was because they were in two different categories or because they were in different series or just because they were that good.  I also ended up with more categories this year, including  Best Humor, Best Young Adult, Best New Vampire and Best New Werewolf.  The variety in genres just begged for subcategories so I created them.  Something really new this year was the interconnected series from the Pulp Friction group. Each series and main characters were intimately connected to each other and culminated in a four author four series finale story.  It was outstanding and earned all four a place on my list.

And then there were the marvelous novels like Harper Fox’ Brothers of the Wild North Seas whose review has slid into 2014 but is one of my top novels of any year.  Anyway, here are the books I chose in alphabetical order.  Which authors/stories were on your list this year?

Best Contemporary Novels of 2013:

  • Best Stand Alone Novels:

Illumination by Rowen Speedwell
The Sky is Dead by Sue Brown

Best Action/Suspense Fiction of 2013:

Collusion by Eden Winters (Diversion series)
Corruption by Eden Winters (Diversion series)
Pulp Friction Series of 2013 (4 interconnected series)

Shock & Awe by Abigail Roux
Touch & Geaux  by Abigail Roux (Cut & Run series)
Worlds Collide by R.J. Scott

Humorous Fiction of 2013:
Books with wings in the sky

Shy by John Inman
Hobbled by John Inman
Tell Me It’s Real by TJ Klune

Young Adult/YA Subject Oriented Fiction:

Christmas Kitsch by Amy Lane
Necromancy and You by Missouri Dalton
Vampirism and You by Missouri Dalton

Best Historical Fiction:

Lessons for Suspicious Minds by Charlie Cochrane
On The Lee Shore by Elin Gregory
Trick of Time by JL Merrow

Best Horror/Fantasy:skeleton-clip-art-15-315x600

Dance Only For Me (Dance With The Devil #6) by Megan Derr
Too Many Fairy Princes by Alex Beecroft
The Mingled Destinies of Crocodiles and Men by Eric Arvin

Best Science Fiction Novel/ Series of 2013:

Aria of the Eclipse by Vivien Dean
One Breath, One Bullet by S.A. McAuley
Dominant Predator by S.A. McAuley  (sequel to the one above)
Fragile Bond by Rhi Etzweiler
Scorpion (Memory of Scorpions #1) by Aleksandr Voinov (fantasy)

Best Supernatural/Paranormal Fiction of 2013:

Close Quarter by Anna Zabo
Into This River I Drown by TJ Klune
Re-entry Burn (Superpowered Love #5) by Katey Hawthorne
Undertow by Andrea Speed (Infected series)

Best New Vampire (a tie):

The Beast Without by Christian Baines
The Family: Liam by K.V. Taylor

Best New Werewolf:

Strength of the Wolf (The Tameness of the Wolf #2) by Kendall McKenna

Happy New Year, everyone!  Happy Reading To All and May 2014 Be Great!

New Year Book

Scattered Thoughts Hosts Boys In The Band Blog Tour and Contest

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is the latest stop on the Boys in the Band blog tour, with authors L.A. Witt, Paula Coots, Rowan Speedwell, and Cecilia Tan. Each of these writers has brought a rock star to life in a recent romance release, so they got together to talk about music, musicians, love, and good old “sex, drugs, and rock and roll.” Today they answer the question: “What’s the biggest challenge when writing about a rock band or rock star?”

Scroll down for the answer and a chance to win a prize pack of all four books!

You could win:

LAW_WiththeBand_coverin_200tHard rock band Schadenfreude is finally on the verge of the success that’s eluded them for the last several years. With Aaron McClure as their new lead singer, nothing’s going to stop them…except maybe a steamy, secret relationship between Aaron and bassist Bastian Koehler. Aaron knows all too well what can happen when band members get involved with each other. After all, his last band was a casualty of his last relationship, and Schadenfreude forbids band members from dating for that very reason. But Bastian is too hot to resist, and besides, it’s just sex, so what’s the harm? Their passion in the bedroom is rivaled only by their ambition as musicians, though, and pretty soon, it’s going to tear them, and Schadenfreude apart, if they can’t get back to playing with the band.

Music is the driving force in Reed Lang’s life and he’s hit the jackpot when it comes to signing a major label deal and scoring a hit single oranother_rock_star_200t two. It’s never an easy task and certainly not for an out and proud gay man, even in this day and age. Now, it’s time to hire the backing band, shoot the videos, do all the promotion work and get out on the road. But what happens onstage is only half the show. When the wild energy onstage can’t be contained some become more than just hired hands. Friends. Mentors. Tormenters. Lovers. Surviving the circus of the music business, the rigors of the road, staying true to your art and discovering your heart show Reed that maybe there is more to life than being just another rock star.

????????????????????????????????????????It’s the 1980s, the era of MTV, AIDS, and Just Say No. Daron Marks is trying to make it as a guitar player in an industry where the whole world is the closet. Keeping his sexuality a secret would be a lot easier if he hadn’t developed a huge crush on his band’s lead singer, Ziggy Ferias. In fact, everything would be a lot easier without his crush on Ziggy… except for fame itself. In the latest volume of Daron’s Guitar Chronicles (volume 5), Moondog 3 are on the road. Is the tour bus the pressure cooker that will meld them together or will the pressure blow them apart?

Adam Craig is burned out. Lead singer of the hard rock band Black Varen, he’s tired of the empty life ofIllumination cover groupies, paparazzi, and hotel rooms. Worse, a life in the closet. Miles Caldwell is a brilliant artist, tied by agoraphobia and social anxiety to his family’s lodge. Alone but for his parrot, he spends his days illuminating manuscripts and hiding from the complexities of life. Somehow, the man who’s never home and the man who never leaves it must find the strength to fight for a future together.

Today’s question for our four authors: “What’s the biggest challenge when writing about a rock band or rock star?”

L.A. Witt: Song lyrics. Dear lord, song lyrics. I cannot write lyrics to save my life. With the Band has some lyrics in it, but those were actually written by Lia Wolff, my beta reader, who has considerably more talent in that department than I do. If I tried to write them, they’d come out sounding like something dreamed up by One Direction after some bad peyote.

Paula Coots:Trying to write about music itself is like trying to describe color to someone who has never seen it. You can evoke the essence of it–you can never quite capture the sound with words.

Rowan Speedwell:  Pretending to know anything about contemporary rock and roll. While I still listen to contemporary music, it’s not my overriding interest, the way it was when I was younger. I cherish quiet now, so I can go days without listening to music. Most of what I catch is in a movie or when one of my friends or nephews sits me down and poke earbuds in my ears and say “Listen to this!” I like music, but my taste is very eclectic, so it was very hard to sit down and imagine one specific kind of music, one “sound” that would belong to Adam’s band. I finally focused on the music of U2, which spans not only decades but musical styles. Then I had people who know much more about contemporary music read what I’d written and tell me where I went wrong.

Cecilia Tan: For me the biggest challenge has been keeping the details of rock and roll life realistic without overwhelming the reader. Daron narrates in first person, and sometimes he really wants to go into technical aspects of touring or of playing guitar. Sometimes I have to rein him in. Fortunately most readers are at least a little fascinated by details, like how difficult it is to park tour buses near certain venues. It’s necessary to do a lot of research to get those details right, though, and sometimes the answer can’t be found. Since my book takes place in the 1980s, a lot of these venues have been torn down. I invent when I have to, but I like using as much real detail as possible!

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway for a prize pack including all four ebooks below!

About the Authors:

  • Paula Coots:After seeing David Bowie and his lead guitarist, Mick Ronson, when she was eleven, Paula knew what she wanted to do with her life. Her plan was to play lead guitar in a band and hopefully make it big, and then after that focus on writing. Well, she didn’t “make it big” as a rock star, but she has had her share of traveling band adventures as a lead guitarist over the past twenty five years. And now she writes!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PaulaCootsBooks
Twitter:@PaulaRCoots

  • Rowan Speedwell lives in a tarpaper shack in the North Woods, without so much as cable TV to keep her warm. She is allergic to publicity and loathes marketing, so her books only sell one or two copies. If you have one, she thanks you, as your purchase enables her to buy cat food for her diabetic feline companion, Kimball O’Hara.

Website http://www.rowanspeedwell.com
Twitter: @RowanSpeedwell

  • Cecilia Tan mostly writes erotica and science fiction/fantasy, but she started writing Daron’s Guitar Chronicles back in the eighties and is still writing it today. She is the author of Slow Surrender, The Prince’s Boy, the Magic University books, and many other novels and stories. She was inducted into the Saints & Sinners GLBT Writers Hall of Fame in 2010 and is currently a nominee for the RT Magazine Career Achievement Award in erotic fiction. She lives in the fantasy utopia of Cambridge, Massachusetts with her three cats and her partner of 23 years.

Daron serial website: http://daron.ceciliatan.com
Blog: http://blog.ceciliatan.com
Twitter: @ceciliatan
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thececiliatan

  • L.A. Witt is an abnormal M/M romance writer currently living in the glamorous and ultra-futuristic metropolis of Omaha, Nebraska, with her husband, two cats, and a disembodied penguin brain that communicates with her telepathically. In addition to writing smut and disturbing the locals, L.A. is said to be working with the US government to perfect a genetic modification that will allow humans to survive indefinitely on Corn Pops and beef jerky. This is all a cover, though, as her primary leisure activity is hunting down her arch nemesis, erotica author Lauren Gallagher, who is also said to be lurking somewhere in Omaha.

Website: http://www.loriawitt.com
Blog: http://gallagherwitt.blogspot.com
Twitter: @GallagherWitt

Visit to enter: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/38252b1/, a Rafflecopter giveaway

Other stops on the Boys in the Band Tour:
Dec 4  Sinfully Sexy Books
Dec 6 MM Good Book Reviews
Dec 10 Pants Off Reviews
Dec 11 Mrs. Condit Reads Books
Dec 12 Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
Dec 13 Chicks After Dark
Dec 14 Sid Love
Dec 16 Em Lynley’s Literary Love Shack
Dec 19 Joyfully Jay
Dec 18 Boys in Our Books
Dec 23 Elisa Rolle’s Reviews and Ramblings

ScatteredThoughts Summary of Reviews for November 2013

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November really was such an extraordinary month for books.  It almost makes me giddy with joy. I can’t remember when I last had more 5 and 4 star  rated books as I have had this month.  And their genres and plots ran the spectrum, from contemporary fiction to what I might best describe as fantasy horror, making this truly a rainbow month of great books by outstanding authors.

There are quite a few books that are a part of a series and should best be read in order, while others are stand alone pieces of fiction, with one or two in between in that they are a part of a series but could be read by themselves. It’s all in the reviews which I have linked to each title.

The holidays are upon us and ebook gift cards are a wonderful way of sharing books with those we love.  Make a list, check it twice to make sure you have the titles listed below on yours:dried flowers for november
November 2013 Review Summary

*part of a series

5 Star Rating:

Corruption by Eden Winters*, contemporary
Encore by Shira Anthony*, contemporary
Lessons for Suspicious Minds by Charlie Cochrane*,historical
Shock & Awe by Abigail Roux*, contemporary
Sweet and Sour by Astrid Amara, contemporary
The Mingled Destinies of Crocodiles and Men by Eric Arvin*, horror, fantasy
Too Many Fairy Princes by Alex Beecroft, fantasy

4 to 4.75 Star Rating:

After The Fall by L.A. Witt* (4 stars), contemporary
Bar None Anthology (4.5 stars) mix of contemporary, scifi
Close Quarter by Anna Zabo*(4.75 stars), supernatural
Family Texas by R.J. Scott*, (4.5 stars), contemporary
Good Boy by Anne Tenino*, (4.5 stars),contemporary
How I Met Your Father by LB Gregg (4.25 stars), contemporary
Illumination by Rowan Speedwell (4.5 stars), contemporary
Long the Mile by Ally Blue (4.25 stars), contemporary
The Retreat by BA Tortuga*, (4 stars), contemporary
The Stars that Tremble by Kate McMurray, (4 stars), contemporary

3 to 3.75 Star Rating:

Captive Magic by Angela Benedetti* (3.75 stars), paranormal
Hat Trick by Chelle Dugan (3 stars), contemporary
The Blight by Missouri Dalton (3.75 stars), fantasy

2 to 2.75 Star Rating:
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Falling Back Into November and the Week Ahead in Reviews

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fall-back-clockOnce again, for most of us in the United States, its time to change the clocks,  As any kid (and adult could tell you), that twice a year, we go through the upsetting ritual of changing our clocks.  In autumn, we “fall back”.  And in Spring,, well, of course, we “spring forward).  Rhymes that help us remember which way to go on the clock face just in case this is too tough to remember.  Remember those clocks that were actually clocks and not timepieces?  That had hands that went ’round and ’round?  No?  Time to feel f)(&)king old again, I guess.

My circadian rhythm is all important and this stuff messes with it big time. While some may live by the Mayan calendar or the Chinese but if you live in the US and abide by the Gregorian Calendar, then you know that on Sunday, we all change our clocks.

Why you ask?

Well, its because of Daylight Savings Time.  Unless of course,, you live in Hawaii, Arizona, or in the  Navajo Nation.   Or even  overseas territories of Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, and the United States Virgin Islands.  Then of course, you are exempt from this nonsense.

But for the rest of us, its time to screw up our sleeping habits, mess with our dogs schedules and in general, feel unsettled and out of sync. And while I never minded “falling back” as a kid because it meant sleeping in an hour longer, “springing forward” always sucked.  School came an hour early, plus in the winter it got darker earlier too!  *I know I know, but i was a kid*

Why, the nonsense you say?  Well, it’s history, man.  Going all the way back to 1918 and The Standard Time Act which brought daylight savings time into our lives.  Here’s a glimpse into our not so distant past:

Daylight saving time was primarily started in the United States for the sake of conserving energy. The Standard Time Act was passed in 1918, which officially established time zones and incorporated daylight saving months into federal law. This was during World War I, when national efforts were made to conserve materials for the war effort. It was believed that if daytime hours could correspond better with natural light, fewer tasks would need to be done at night. Homes would need to use less energy to stay lit.

After the war “Peace Time” was back in effect and the issue of daylight saving time was handled on a local level. This led to a great deal of confusion as different locations were constantly operating at different times. The Uniform Time Act was passed in 1966 to solve the problem. States were given the option to opt out of daylight saving time if they passed proper ordinances.Copyright AccuWeather.comDaylight-Saving-Time-Ends-Wallpaper-Card-of-Bear-Sleeping

After WWI, we got rid of it.  But WWII saw a return of conservation of energy and our resources and, voila, Daylight Savings Time returned. And now while it’s no longer a law, most states still go by DST including Maryland.   So today I will be just that little bit disgruntled, my timing out of whack and my dogs out of sync of their normal routines. And I will glare at that clock and say “at least it isn’t spring and I am springing forward”.

And here is the week ahead in reviews, so many great books from beginning to end:

Monday, Nov. 4       Lessons for a Suspicious Mind by Charlie Cochrane

Tuesday, Nov. 5:      Good Boy by Anne Tenino

Wed., Nov. 6:             Hat Trick by Chelle Dugan

Thurs., Nov. 7:           Illuminations by Rowan Speedwell

Friday, Nov. 8:           The Blight by Missouri Dalton

Saturday, Nov.9:       After The Fall by L.A. Witt