Winners of the Pulp Friction 2013 Contest

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Congratulations to our Pulp Friction 2013 Series Contest.  The Winners are:

  1. Bluesmokey  richards851(at)sbcglobal(dot)net
  2. Helen helenj@odont.uio.no
  3. Kerry books2read69@hotmail(dot)com
  4. Bobbie Walker Bobbie022@sky.com

Please double check that I have your email addresses correct and let me know if there are any corrections.  The authors will be sending our copies of their series to the winners.  Happy reading everyone and Happy Holidays!

ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords Review of Odd Man Out, the Pulp Friction combined series finale story.

Pulp Friction 4 covers

Not What I Expected and This Week’s Reviews

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Doctor__NeedleSo, there I was lying on the hospital table waiting for the fluoroscope to start up and the doctor to appear to give me an injection. With a very long needle.  One the size of the Empire State Building. And of course, the first words out of his mouth are “well, this shouldn’t hurt very much” and my heart sinks.  Because between you and me, I have a long history with that phrase (as I am sure most of you do as well) and it isn’t a good one.

I can remember various dentist offices and dentists themselves saying that just before annihilating my mouth in a frenzy of drills and numbing injections that never seemed to work.  I remember vaccines and pops of cotton that, yes indeedy, hurt, even though the doctors swore up and down they wouldn’t.

And then there were the injections I received for rabies (8 of them at the time) that alternated sites, left, cheek, right cheek (not the face mind you), left arm, right arm, stomach…well you get the drift.  Oh the perils of being a park naturalist.  There have been ones for the flu, tetanus, and during anaphylactic shock, epinephrine.  I have had ones for antibiotics and ones for steroids.  Lots and lots of shots over time and always with the same result.  Shot then pain.

And you know what?  Each time, the doctor assured me it shouldn’t hurt very much.  And  each time it most certainly did.

drag queen sharon needles

knitting needlesNow I don’t have a problem with needles themselves.  I even adore certain needles, like my mahogany knitting needles or knitting needles of any type.  I also think the drag queen Sharon Needles is pretty darn awesome.  I even have a certain fondness for sewing needles even though I am hardly proficient with them.  They have repaired many a beloved teddy or tiger and for that I am grateful.

But medical needles, long, long medical needles?  I think not.  True they are necessary but I don’t have to like them and once more here I was waiting to be injected.  But first they had to find the right spot….yeah, topical anesthesia  doesn’t help there.  And yes, I felt that needle going in…and in…  and the doctor asked me…wait for it…did I feel it and did it hurt?  He’s lucky all I shot him was a glare. Cause yes I did feel it and yes, it hurt.  Argh.  And I am not, repeat not a baby about these things and I have a high tolerance for pain. But yeesh….they need to find something different to say…cause I am telling you that has truly gotten old.

So here I am, my hip is throbbing.  The doctor said I should feel better in a day…if the shot works.  Sigh.  Sometimes life is a crap shoot.  Sometimes you role doubles and sometimes snake eyes. And by now I really should know to stick to the needles I like when given a choice, and leave the others alone.  Because here is something I have learned over the years….when someone tells you its not going to hurt, run, run like the wind in the opposite direction, it’s going to hurt like hell.

Now for the week ahead in reviews.  It’s one terrific book after another this week.   There are two guest blogs on our schedule. One by the fabulous Abigail Roux for the release Shock & Awe.  And the other by an author whose books have always appeared on my must read list, L.B. Gregg and her latest release How I Met Your Father.  Added to that are two new books in series I just love, R.J. Scott’s Texas Family and Kate McMurray’s The Stars That Tremble and this will be a stellar week indeed!

Twas the week before the week of Thanksgiving…..

Monday, Nov. 17:   Texas Family by R.J. Scott
Tuesday, Nov. 18:   The Stars That Tremble by Kate McMurray
Wed., Nov. 19:         Guest Blog by L.B. Gregg for How I Met Your Father
Thurs., Nov.20:      Guest Blog and Contest by Abigail Roux and Shock & Awe release
Friday, Nov. 21:       Shock & Awe by Abigail Roux
Sat., Nov. 22:           How I Met Your Father by L.B. Gregg

Review: Knights Out (City Knight #4) by T.A. Webb

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Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Knights Out coverMarcus Prater and Benjamin Danvers are having a wonderful morning when they are interrupted by a phone call.  It’s Zachary and he needs their help.  An old friend of Jeremiah’s, NIck, has gone missing and Jeremiah wants to know what has happened to him.  Since Ben also knows Nick from his time as a rent boy, Marcus and Ben are quick to agree to join a growing search for a young man known for his kindness and help to those on the streets.

Their investigation takes a darker turn when more boys turn up missing. This investigation reminds Marcus that he also has someone he wants to find, his younger brother who Marcus hasn’t seen in years.  Their current search renews Marcus’ resolve to find his brother and make amends for all the lost time between them.  The shocking resolution of both investigations will change everyones lives forever.

Knights Out, the fourth story in the City Knight series, is a wonderful installment in this Pulp Friction group offering.  Here Webb continues to weave the clues to the mystery that runs through all four series, that of the increasing number of missing young men and the culprit behind their torture and subsequent deaths.  In Knights Out two more young rent boys disappear, both of which the readers became familiar with in other stories.  Now we are faced with uncertainty about their fate and the indication that a serial murderer is at work.  Webb builds our tension and anxiety in small but increasingly fearful steps.  Soon we are afraid not only for the missing men but for all the main characters that we have come to love, especially those like Ben and Jeremiah who fit the profile of the men the killer is targeting.  The fact that Ben and Jeremiah have just found happiness just increases our alarm.

But T.A. Webb balances that worry and concern with moments of laughter and love, especially when it comes to Marcus and his brother.  That is such a lovely element in this story.  It made me laugh as well as cry.  As much as I wanted to include that excerpt with Wick here, I just can’t bring myself to spoil the enjoyment of reading it as part of the whole chapter.  Trust me, you will love this moment for so many reasons, one of which is the rare scene of seeing the unshakable Wick throughly discomforted (in a funny way of course).

By balancing a man’s love for his brother and Ben against the horror that is coming., Webb shows just how fragile a state happiness can be.  Nothing is ever certain, nothing is ever guaranteed except death, so grab your love and happiness while you can.   It’s a message that some of the characters are just beginning to accept, however much they may fight it.  The author spreads tension throughout the series, like butter on bread.  Whether it is Marcus’ health, Wick’s relationships, the mens past histories emerging into the present day events, all bring a certain amount of tension and uncertainty to all the investigations and relationships.

All the other characters from the  other series are starting to appear with regularity.  Here Wick and Chance are an integral part of the search for the missing rent boys with implications for both men and their past histories.  And while there is not a cliffhanger to be found in this story, the path is laid for more investigations and more revelations to come.

Tom Webb is certainly bring his love of Pulp Fiction alive with this story and his City Knight series.  None of these books and related series are to be missed.  But you must start at the beginning with City Knight in order to understand the main characters backgrounds and relationships and the events to come.

Here they are in the order they were written and should be read:

City Knight (City Knight #1)
Knightmare (City Knight #2)
Starry Knight (City Knight #3)
Knights Out (City Knight #4)
Darkest Knight (City Knight #5)
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Book Details:

ebook, 50 pages
Published August 15th 2013 by A Bear on Books
ISBN13 9781301563555
series City Knight
buy link All Romance, Amazon Kindle Books

Crazy Week Ahead, Ghoulish Cocktail Recipes, and This Week’s Reviews

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Sooooooo, sitting here wondering why I do things that make myself crazy.  I’m really not a masochistic sort, occasionally absent minded but truly, people,  usually I am a better planner than this.  So this week, the alarm people are coming to fix the alarm system that wants to beep, squeak, squeal, or otherwise make high pitched noises at all hours of the day, none of them actually caused by any realtime event. And all are picked up by Captain (African Grey Parrot) who finds these noises irresistible enough to mimic.  So even after they are banished , thanks to Captain’s skill at mimicry, they will always be with us. Cue the Excedrin.

Also this week?  A friend is coming to stay for the week.  I haven’t seen her in a while and I am looking forward to getting caught up on her life (outside of the computer chats) face to face.  So what else is also going on?  My wonderful book group is coming over on Sunday for lunch and togetherness, my niece and her boyfriend just flew in from CA for her birthday and my mother is making noises about a “birthday celebration” for my niece over at the Farm this weekend too.  What aligned among the stars and planets that said all this had to happen this week and weekend?  Hey! *waves hands frantically over head* Can we not do this?  Please?  This is making me crazy.  I  like to do things slowly, think the forward momentum of a sloth.  I enjoy getting ready for events and people the same way.  This is not making me happy.  Sigh.

So I plan on lots of writing today so I don’t have to do that as well.  Here is my schedule for the week if I am not carted off to Bedlam.

Monday, June 22:                    Sweet Young Thang by Anne Tenino

Tuesday, June 23:                    Parting Shot by Mary Calmes

Wednesday, June 24:              Welcome, Brother by Erica Pike

Thursday, June 25:                 Attachment Strings by Chris T. Kat

Friday, June 26:                       Vampirism and You (Guidebook #01) by Missouri Dalton

Saturday, June 27:                   Necromancy and You (Guidebook #02) by Missouri Dalton

Cocktail Recipes: In honor of Missouri Dalton’s new series which I absolutely adore, here are a couple of scary Cocktails to cool you off:

The Necromancer’s Martini:

Vampire Martini

1 part vodka
1 part strawberry liqueur
1 part lime juice
1 part cranberry juice

Pour all of the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice and shake well. Strain into a cocktail glass to serve.

Vampire Cocktail

Bloody Vampire Cocktail

1 part rum
1 part cherry kool aid

Pour both of the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice and shake well. Strain into a highball glass to serve.

Review: Mighty Casey by Willa Okati

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Rating:  5 stars out of 5

Mighty Casey coverCasey Sprague has a job he adores as a wedding planner and a wonderful committed relationship with a man he loves deeply, Nate Rule. Casey knows the man he loves is a man of many passions, and while Casey may take the top spot in Nate’s life, baseball comes in a very close second.  Casey has never shared Nate’s love of baseball, primarily due to his name and a certain much quoted poem about the Mudville Nine.  Casey has long come to terms with the irony that while Casey may plan others weddings, he will not be planning his own.  Nate has a thing about getting married and Casey has come to accept that won’t be in their future, after all relationships are all about compromise and Nate has accepted Casey’s feelings towards baseball.  Or so Casey thought.

When Casey loses a strip poker bet to Nate, his forfeit is to spend the day watching Nate’s team play a day of tournament games, all in the name of charity.  But Nate has an ulterior motive for getting Casey to the game and as the day wears on and the games continue, surprises await both Nate and Casey, ones that will have lasting impact on them and their relationship.

This is the reason why I love Willa Okati.  She has the ability to write long, angst filled stories of complicated men and their journey to love, slightly dark and full of heartbreak.  And then Okati can write a story like Mighty Casey. I loved Mighty Casey.  I finished it (it’s not long) and turned around and read it again. Why?  Because it’s joyous, it’s fun, and it’s so full of life and the best things about being in a loving committed relationship, that’s why. When I picked it up, I thought cute premise and couldn’t wait to see what Willa Okati did with it.  But oh, what a mighty swing and home run the author accomplished here (yes, expect baseball metaphors to follow).

First off the bat is Okati’s characters.  I loved each and every one, not just the main characters of Casey and Nate, but the rest of the team like Mimi (a star in her own right) and Kenneth, and the various players from the other teams. Casey and Nate’s each are such realistic characters.  They talk and feel like a couple who has been together for years and find themselves even more deeply in love after having made the necessary adjustments and compromises a long term relationship requires.  You can feel the mutual respect and love that flows between them.  Not once was there a missed ball by the author in terms of their personalities and the depth of their commitment.  Obviously, Okati knows a thing or two about relationships and that knowledge underlies every scene and dialog between them.  Just a perfect pitch every time.  And the rest of the team? As I already mentioned, you couldn’t ask for a better line up, especially Mimi.  Oh, she made a place in my heart right from the start.  Sparkly, outsized personality, she is everywhere in the story, running in the outfield, making all the necessary plays that Nate asks from her (and not all of them include the game).  Trust me, this is an all star line up.

Second at bat is the plot.  At first glance, just a normal romcom situation (think minor league) but Okati takes it and elevates it into the owner’s box seats and beyond.  She gives us one day in the life of Casey and Nate, but a very important one.  She starts it off as the alarm goes off and carries us through to the end of the day and the last of the charity tournaments games.  I won’t give away any spoilers but as Casey sits and watches Nate’s team progress through day, winning game after game, we see, through his interaction with Nate, Nate’s team, and the other players from competing teams, just how well these two are matched. We see the joy and contentment they find with each other, the sizzle and desire that bubbles just under the surface, and the manner in which they can still surprise each other after all the years together.  You will find yourself laughing out loud, pleased as can be, as the day and the tournament unfolds before you.  And to fully bring you to the edge of your seat in anticipation, Okati makes sure you (and Casey) know that Nate has something special planned for the end of the day.  I thought I had it figured out, but the author gave me another little surprise here too that I loved.  Great job, great game plan, perfect follow through, and another runner is on the base.

Third at bat? The heat between Casey and Nate.  They love each other and are so familiar with each other’s bodies and sexual desires.  In one funny and hot scene after another, Casey and Nate have little sexy interludes between games that speak of their love, their desire and their knowledge of each other.  It is a great way to demonstrate the authenticity of their relationship and heat up the story at the same time.  Now all these  bases are loaded.

And here comes the home run to bring everyone over home plate and win the game.  That would be the Epilogue.  It’s the final resolution and it finishes off the story with all the glee, all the triumph, and gratification that comes from seeing a perfect game and acknowledging just how special they are.  That is Mighty Casey all together.  A perfect game of a novella.  I cannot recommend this story enough.  Grab it up, along with some Caramel Poppernutter Crunch, and settle in for a pleasure filled day of baseball and love.

Cover Artist: Mina Carter.  It’s a fun cover but the models are far too young for the men in the story. Surely there are older models out there that could fit the bill and make the cover more in tune with the story.  Plus where is the Poppernutter Crunch? Sigh.

Book Details:

Novella, ebook

Published May 28th 2013 by Loose-ID
ISBN139781623003180
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://www.willaokati.com/

Review: One Breath One Bullet (The Borders War #1) by S.A. McAuley

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Rating: 5 stars out of  5

One Breathe One BulletThree hundred years of the Borders War has seen the world reduced to five nations.  In the year 2548, a treaty was signed ending the war, and ensuring a peace between countries, at least on the surface.  Now in the year 2558, all nationalities have gathered for the first Olympic games since the war started.  Attention from the world media and citizens are focused on two men and one competition, the Rifle competition which pits soldiers from each army against the other, this time in tournament rather than battle.   And one duel has been raised above them all, that between the Dark Ops officer from the People’s Republic of Singapore, Armise Darcan and  the Continental States Peacemaker Merq Grayson.

Both men were trained from the very youngest of age to be the most highly skilled and dedicated soldier possible, and the most accurate sniper each side produced.  On mission after mission throughout the Borders War Merq and  Armise battled each other as they pursued the goals of their own countries, neither coming out ahead of the other.  And now they face each other once more, only this time on the field of competition.  But while their relationship has always been one of violence and physical brutality, they have also hidden another aspect to their relationship, one neither truly understands but is compelled to continue.

Against the backdrop of peace and the Olympic Games, another conflict is playing out, one that will have consequences not just for Merq and Armise but for the world they live in.  Only their skills and maybe something more will keep both men alive to survive another day.

One Breath One Bullet is only 80 pages long but within its small frame it packs a much larger punch and more powerful story than I could have imagined.  S.A. McAuley has created a world where war has raged for over three hundred years, with devastating results, wiping out half the world populations, reducing the planet’s air to a toxic cloud and numerous environs to desert unfit for human habitation.  McAuley’s descriptions paint a grim and despairing picture of the cost of prolonged warfare on both the planet and it citizens.  It’s a gritty, noxious universe and the author makes it horribly real in every aspect.

This is an intense story and at its heart are the two soldiers from opposing countries and ideologies. Despite being on opposing sides, Merq Grayson and Armise Darcan have much in common.  They are close in age and physique, even closer in their mentalities and emotional makeup.  These are brutal, dangerous predators masquerading as highly skilled soldiers at the top of their professions and yet, they are also something far more. Merq and Armise are also highly complicated personalities with more layers than can be described.  They will dishearten you with their characters and then turn around and astonish you with surprises.  McAuley has created, in Merq and Armise, two characters so real and memorable, that you will be insatiable in your need for more than just these 80 pages and luckily we will get them.

The story is told from Merq’s pov and jumps time periods from mission to mission.  Through Merq’s perspective, we see the world as it has become and watch the past as the two men compete to complete a search for an object both countries desperately want to acquire.  The real measure of each man slowly seeps out like a small blood trail the reader must follow to get to the truth behind the facades erected by man and nation.  Those expecting a romantic love story will be disappointed as the relationship between these men is not for the faint hearted but authentic to the characters we are slowly coming to know.  I don’t think I can adequately describe how compelling these brutal, war hardened men become or how thrilling and suspenseful the plot turns involved.  There are some beautiful twists and turns involved that just make this story and its characters all the more amazing considering the length of the book.

McAuley has created a three page Index at the end of the book detailing time lines, characters, glossary etc.  I am not a fan of this element as readers of my reviews already know.  Happily, I can report it is not necessary to refer to the Index to understand the basics of the world the author has created or some of the war weaponry used in the conflict.  McAuley folds that necessary information into the story just as it should be, making those pages interesting but optional.

One Breath, One Bullet is the opening salvo to a new series, The Borders War and I, for one, can’t wait for more.  The men, their world, and the events to come are deserving of a grand scale series to equal their measure.  I am confident in S.A. McAuley’s ability to deliver it.  Consider this a must have, must read and look for it on the Best of lists at the end of the year.

This is how the sage begins:

I hated the heat of the desert.

The mask on my face was confining, filling with the condensation of each breath I dragged into my lungs and forced back out in shallow gasps. The goggles over my eyes should have protected me from the yellow and grey cloud of Chemsense the Dark Continental Republic Army had unleashed on our battalion, but I could feel my eyes watering, the liquid gathering in pools that threatened to make my skin too damp to maintain the protective seal.

I was on my knees and I couldn’t remember when I’d stopped walking. I wasn’t far enough away yet. The shouts of the DCR soldiers—and the sonicpops of their weapons as they picked off States soldiers—were muffled but still too close. My body tilted, and I planted my hands into the sand without thought. I collapsed into the dune when my right shoulder ground together, bone against bone, tendons ripping. I thought those DCR goons had only managed to dislocate it, but this pain was worse than that—a grinding impact of racking, vision-blackening pain that didn’t ebb even when I flopped onto my back and let my arm lie unmoving in the scorching sand.

My mantra, pounded into me through years of training, repeated in my head as I consciously stilled my body.

One breath.

Inhale.

Hesitation is my enemy.

Solitude my ally.

Death the only real victory.

Exhale.

Cover art by Posh Gosh is disappointing.  Who is that cover model supposed to be?  And that modern shirt?  So many missed opportunities to do justice for such an incredible book.

Book Details:

ebook, 88 pages (includes excerpt from another Total E-Bound book)
Published June 3rd 2013 by Total-E-Bound
ISBN 1781843317 (ISBN13: 9781781843314)
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://www.total-e-bound.com/product.asp?strParents=&CAT_ID=&P_ID=2133
seriesThe Borders War #1