Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Best of 2015

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 From Books, Audiobooks to Book Covers

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Best of 2015

Happy New Year! Looking back over 2015 I’m  amazed at all the changes here and marvelous tales that came to our door. I’m thinking about the new reviewers we’ve added,  all the wonderful books we’ve read, new authors we’ve discovered, and the way Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words has grown in this past year.  Along with new reviewers, came new columns like Paul’s Paranormal Portfolio (his New Year’s edition is posted today), our Author Discovery along with all our author interviews and guest posts.

As the market for audiobooks has increased so has our reviews.  Even a audiobook virgin like myself jumped into the format and found that I enjoyed it immensely. What a surprise…for me!

I hope 2016 brings a new look to Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words, a few new reviewers to help us read more, listen to, review more about the thing we love…books! I hope we find more new authors to discover, and more ways in which to write about them and the writing process.

But before we move forward, we’re going to look back at the books and covers we loved best.  So here are some of our favorites. Free Dreamer is traveling, and Paul was working on his Paranormal Portfolio but some of the rest of us had our lists ready. Are some of yours among them?  Which ones do you think we left out?  And are there new discoveries among those we love so much? Check out our Best Books and Covers of 2015 below…

 

 

From BJ:

✪Favorite Books Read in 2015:

Captive Prince One and Two by C.S. Pascat
The entire Straight Boys series by Alessandra Hazard
The entire Guardians of the Pattern series by Jaye McKenna
For Real by Alexis Hall
Control by Cordelia Kingsbridge
Give an Inch by K.D. Sarge (because it was so cute AND it was written from my prompt)

✪ Best Audiobook of 2015:

Into Deep Waters by Kaje Harper, Narrated by Kaleo Griffith

✪Favorite Covers of 2015

Ghost in the Mythe coverFor Real coverSong of the NavigatorBurn The Sky cover

Ghost in the Mythe by Jaye McKenna, artist Chinchbug
For Real by Alexis Hall
Song of the Navigator by Astrid Amara
Burn the Sky by Jaye McKenna, artist Chinchbug
Leythe Blade by Jaye McKenna, artist Chinchbug
Something Like A Love Song by Becca Burton
In Discretion (Ylendrian Empire, #3) by Reesa Herberth
Neskaya (Bittersweet Dreams) by Augusta Li

Leythe BladeSomething Like A Love SongInDiscretion_500x750Neskaya

I really admire original covers that are drawn or created specifically to represent that book so much more than those that just use stock photography…so here are some I love.

 

 

From Stella:

 

✪BEST BOOKS

Beneath the Stain by Amy Lane
Sacrati by Kate Sherwood
✪BEST COVERS
Sand and Gold and RuinThe Fifth Son coverCabin NightsACID coverStormBeforeTheCalm[The]FS
Sand and Ruin and Gold by Alexis Hall
The Fifth Son by Blaine D Arden
Cabin Nights by Ashley John
ACID by Wulf Francu Godgluck and S. van Rooyen
The Storm before the Calm by Cate Ashwood
✪BEST AUTHOR DISCOVERIES
Family of Lies Sebastian by Sam Argent
Go On Your Own Way by Zane Riley
The Rules of Ever After by Killian B Brewer
The Union of Sun and Moon by Gus Li
The Last Yeti by Tully Vincent
In the Middle of Somewhere by Roan Parrish

                                                                                        From Ali

✪ Best books:  These are my top 5 plus

The Subs Club by JA Rock
Darker Space by Lisa Henry
Trust the Focus by Megan Erickson
Kick at the Darkness by Keira Andrews
Sutphin Boulevard by Santino Hassell
Lonely Hearts by Heidi Cullinan
Crash & Burn by Abigail Roux
A Seditious Affair by KJ Charles

  ✪Best Short Stories:

Fawn by Nash Summers  **this was probably my favorite thing I read this year in this genre
One Perfect Night by Lisa Henry
Lima Oscar Victor Echo & the Truth About Everything by Suki Fleet
Ten Simple Steps for Surviving the Apocalypse by Cari Z
Waiting for Clark by Annabeth Albert

 ✪ Best Covers:

 Sutphin Boulevard coverIn the Middle of Somewhere coverFawn coverStygian
Stygian by Santino Hassell
Fawn by Nash Summers
Sutphin Boulevard by Santino Hassell
Level Hands by Amy Jo Cousins
Level Hands
In the Middle of Somewhere by Roan Parrish

From Mika

✪My Favorite Books of 2015

. Sunset Park by Santino Hassell & How To Be A Normal Person by T.J. Klune. They are tied for me. I loved these books. (

Rest in any order
Conscious Decisions of the Heart by John Wiltshire
Carry the Ocean by Heidi Cullinan
Trust the Focus by Megan Erickson
Breakaway by Avon Gale
Fish Stick Fridays by Rhys Ford
Kick at the Darkness by Keira Andrews
Him by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy
Definitely Maybe, Yours by Lissa Reed
The Subs Club by J.A. Rock
Restless Spirits by Jordan L. Hawk
Down & Dirty by Rhys Ford

✪Best Covers:

Conscious Decisions of the Heart civCarry the OceanTrust the Focus

Carry the Ocean by Heidi Cullinan
Conscious Decisions of the Heart by John Wiltshire
Trust the Focus by Megan Erickson

From Sammy:

✪Best Books of 2015:

– Unwrapping Hank by Eli Easton
– Dirty Dining by E.M. Lynley
– The Wrong Man & The Right Time by Lane Hayes
– The Shearing Gun by Renae Kaye
– Slasherazzi by Daniel A. Kaine
– Where There’s Smoke & Where There’s Fire by Cari Z
– The World in His Eyes by A.J. Thomas
– The Ultimate Team by Tricia Owens
– The Biggest Scoop by Gillian St. Kevern (A YA pick!)
And an upcoming release in 2016 that I had the pleasure of beta reading:
– Thorns & Fangs by Gillian St. Kevern

From Melanie

For me there  were so many. You really had to look no further than our best book of the month to see that.  Its especially hard in a year where favorite  series came to a finish.  Those were so tough on the heart.  But so were so many others. I laughed with these characters and boy, did I cry.  Sometimes, I did both at the same time.  Looking at you Renae Kaye and John Inman!
Alex Beecroft and Alexis Hall almost deserve their own section.  Beecroft’s Trowchester Blues was a trilogy so marvelous it was illuminating.  And Alexis Hall?  His words flow with a lyricism and magic  that make reading his stories a privilege.
John Wiltshire’s excellent series More Heat Than The Sun starts off with one of my favorite books of 2015, Conscious Decisions of the Heart (also Best Cover).  Heidi Cullinan’s Minnesota Christmas trilogy which ends with my favorite story of them all, Eden Winter’s Diversion series (be still my heart) got a new installment that I’ve read several times, see?  I can  go on and on.  And I haven’t even talked about Astrid Amara who is on several of the other reviewers lists!

✪Best Books

The Shearing Gun by Renae Kaye
Waiting for the Flood by Alexis Hall
Sand and Ruin and Gold by Alexis Hall
Conscious Decisions of the Heart by John Wiltshire
Holding Out for a Fairy Tale (Least Likely Partnership #2) by A.J. Thomas
My Magical Palace by Kunal Mukherjee
Blue Eyed Stranger (Trowchester Blues #2) by Alex Beecroft
Trowchester Blues (Trowchester Blues, #1) by Alex Beecroft
Blue Steel Chain (Trowchester Blues, #3) by Alex Beecroft
Blowing Off Steam by Joy Lynn Fielding
Redemption (Diversion #5) by Eden Winters
Tigers on the Run (Tigers and Devils #3) by Sean Kennedy
A Solitary Man by Shira Anthony and Aisling Mancy
Where the Grass is Greener (Seeds of Tyrone #2) by Debbie McGowan and Raine O’Tierney
Winter Wonderland (Minnesota Christmas #3) by Heidi Cullinan *loved them all
******************************
(Humor & Pathos Division)
Shawn’s Law by Renae Kaye
Coming Back by John Inman
You Are The Reason by Renae Kaye
 ***********************
Four of Club series by Parker Williams (Pulp Friction 2015)
Jack of Spades series by Lee Brazil
King of Hearts series by Havan Fellows
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Best Audiobook

Best Covers:

Theory Unproven 400x600Blowing Off Steam coverConscious Decisions of the Heart civWaiting for the Flood cover

 

 

 

 

 

Theory Unproven by Lillian Francis, artist Meredith Russell
Conscious Decisions of the Heart by John Wiltshire
Waiting for the Flood by Alexis Hall, artist Simone
Blowing Off Steam by Joy Lynn Fielding

 

Sand and Gold and RuinSnowman coverForging the future coverRunning with the Wind cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shawn's Law coverChasing the Swallows coverSomething Like A Love SongFirst Comes Marriage

 

 

 

 

 

Shawn’s Law by Renae Kay, Paul Richmond artist
Something Like A Love Song by Becca Burton, unknown artist
Chasing the Swallows by John Inman, artist Maria Fanning
First Comes Marriage by Shira Anthony, artist Paul Richmond

The Sub Club by J.A. Rock, artist Kanaxa
My Magical Palace by Kunal Mukherjee, artist unknown
Winter Oranges by Marie Sexton, artist L.C. Chase
Trowchester Blues trilogy by Alex Beecroft, artist Lou Harper
Trowchester Blues cover

 

 

TheSubsClub_600x900Winter Oranges coverMy Magical Palace

Review of Tigerland (Tigers and Devils #2) by Sean Kennedy

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Rating: 4.75 stars

Declan Tyler and Simon Murray hope that the drama of the past couple of years is finally behind them, leaving them to enjoy their lives finally settled and happy.  When Declan Tyler retired from the AFL, it was terribly hard on him but he returned to the sport as a commentator and seems happy.  Simon has moved on from his job coordinating the movie festival and now  works as a producer for the Queer Sports cable show. Then Greg Heyward, Declan’s closeted ex decides to retire and come out of the closet.  In the past Greg has brought Declan and Simon nothing but pain and problems and this is no different.  Greg is determined to stay in the spotlight one way or the other and dragging Declan back into the drama with him is one way to accomplish his goals.

But Declan  wants to rise above Greg’s tactics, even when Greg starts spreading lies to the press about his relationship with Declan and the reasons they split up, hurting Simon in the process.  Simon wants Declan to stand up to Greg, not only for himself but for their relationship.  Unfortunately the silent treatment that Declan is using only goads Greg on to greater lies and more public exposure for the couple.  And that starts to upset their relationship, leading to arguments and misunderstandings that horrify their friends and families.  Will the adversity they face strengthen their relationship, deepening their commitment to each other   or will the stress and strain force them apart as it did in the past.

Tigerland is the long awaited sequel to Tigers and Devils, published in 2009, and it lives up to all my expectations.  I loved the original novel Tigers and Devils which introduced us to Declan Tyler, renown footballer and Simon Murray, who works at the Melbourne film festival.  From the moment they meet at Fran and Roger’s party (Simon’s friends), the two men clash, miscommunicate, come together, part and reunite  while conducting a romance that melts your heart.  Declan and Simon were two lively wonderful characters that grabbed onto the reader and never let go, even after over 300 pages. So having a chance to catch up with them again made my heart beat a little faster, even with the idea of more Australian Rules football, which as an American I never quite grasped.  Team loyalty to the extreme, check. Understood that completely while letting some of the totally Australian bits fly over my head. The other elements of the story that were grounded in Melbourne were delightful and made me want to fly down under immediately.

Now we pick up their story a year or so later, and the same qualities that made me love Tigers and Devils are front and center once more.  Sean Kennedy’s characters still leap off the pages, full of life and dealing with all the problems that comes with commitment to another person, and close proximity to family and friends.  All the people we grew to love from Roger and Fran (Simon’s friends) and Abe and Lisa (Declan’s friends), and all the family either could want are back again.  After everything that occurred in the first novel, Simon and Declan have settled into living with each other and their relationship has grown much stronger. Both men have changed professions and while Declan is no longer on the playing field, he is still very much a part of the game as a well known commentator, a fact that helps provoke Greg’s schemes to remain in the spotlight by pulling Declan into a media blitz with him.   Greg Heyward is a character we are also familiar with from the pain he caused Declan in the first story and his appearance here threatens all the hard won stability of Simon and Declan’s current status.

From event to event, Sean Kennedy clearly understands couple dynamics and let us see the stress and strain that Declan is putting on Simon with his refusal to publicly repudiate Greg’s claims about Simon and their relationship while still playing football.  There is never any doubt that these two men love each other and that their established partnership is one of respect, passion and a love that has grown deeper over the years. But even the strongest bonds can be tested and we watch as Simon and Declan deal realistically with the onslaught of public attention and lives returned to intense media scrutiny.  Kennedy gets is all so right that Tigerland has superseded Tigers and Devils in my affections, something I never would have predicted happening.

Simon remains one of my all time favorite contemporary characters.  I love his intelligence, his sense of humor and his unwavering loyalty both to his man and his football team.  Simon is such a multidimensional persona that he had to have a partner of equal strength to be his  match and Declan is certainly that for him.  When Declan makes the decision not to “sink to Greg’s level of behavior”, he makes it without consulting Simon, and the aftermath of that poor decision reverberates throughout the story to the point that the reader becomes very frustrated that Declan is not listening to Simon when he tells Declan that he tactic is not working for him.  But never fear, Declan more than redeems his actions in the end and  in a manner totally in keeping with his personality and his respect for his partner.  I just loved this.

There is, however, one part of Australian culture I was not familiar with and quite frankly shocked by.  According to Sean Kennedy, when a couple gets  married, it is law that the following words, well Sean Kennedy put it the best:

“But then the celebrant said those words which are like a knife in the heart to any queer person attending a marriage ceremony: Marriage, according to law in Australia, is the union of a man and a woman, to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life. To the exclusion of all others.”

I can’t imagine that a ceremony binding two people together is used officially to remind the GLBTQ community that they are not equal and their bonds will never have the status of those automatically given to a heterosexual  couple.  I guess in a time when even the terms man and wife are no longer commonly used, and more countries are legalizing gay marriage, I am surprised that Australia would continue to institutionalize inequality in such a hurtful manner.  I was and still am shocked by this knowledge as I thought Australia more progressive than that.  I can only hope that as Maryland prepares to vote in the upcoming election that all the polls are correct  and Maryland will become the next state to legalize  Marriage Equality.  Next Maryland, then the USA, and perhaps more will follow the countries that came before.  Kudos for them, prayers for us, and hope for all others that exclusion will be a thing of the past.

At any rate, if you loved Tigers and Devils, pick this one up immediately.  If you are unfamiliar with the series,  start from the beginning with the first book and then go on to this one.  I am not sure if there will be another. If not I am more than content with this latest visit to a couple I have never forgotten.

Cover: Catt Ford did the wonderful cover art for Tigerland.  I loved it.

Frankenstorm is Coming and the Week Ahead in Reviews Hopefully

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So, here we are on the cusp of a truly remarkable storm event, a hurricane within a nor easter, something that has never occurred before or so say the  meteorologists.  Over 85 million people will feel the impact of Hurricane Sandy as she heads towards the East Coast as a hurricane 1, taking a dramatic left turn anywhere between Washington, DC and the Jersey shore and heading inland.  From Virginia to Massachusetts, people are getting ready to hunker down and some are already evacuating.

 

Here in Maryland we are expecting  not only huge amounts of rain (could be up to over 10 inches or more), high winds of 65 to 70 mph, but  snow!  That’s right, we could be seeing large amounts of snow as well.  So will parts of West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio.  *shakes head*  So rain, wind, hail, snow, flooding most certainly.  Have the weather gods left anything out?  I don’t think so.  It just seems so unreal.  So of course, we made sure that the dog food was stocked up on, ditto the wine, water, and canned goods and snacks.  So we are good, I think. But then there is my blog.  And while I have a generator, that doesn’t mean the servers and towers won’t be coming down, so if there are no updates after a  while, just nod and say “Well, the Frankenstorm must have got her!”, and know I will be back up and running as soon as I am absolutely able to do so.

I also want to give a shout out to Jay of Joyfully Jay just back from the fabulous GayRomLit2012 in Albuquerque, NM.  She had an outstanding time and so did everyone else who attended. So many great authors, bloggers and readers to meet and party with. I so wanted to be there but the pictures she (and others) took made me some of the joy and fun that was going on. Wow, what a time and great photos to boot.  And she also brought me back a bag of swag!  Naked men playing cards, fluffer lip balm to name a few. Hooray!  Now I am determined to be there in Atlanta for next year’s conference. GayRomLit2013 in Atlanta!  woohoo!

So let’s see what I have planned for this week, shall we?

Monday:            Theory of Attraction by Cleon Lee  (I promise this will happen)

Tuesday:             Risking It All by Lee Brazil

Wednesday:       Tigerland by Sean Kennedy

Thursday:           The F Words by Anyta Sunday

Friday:                 A Mutual Understanding by Caro Soles

Saturday:             MIA Case Files #3: Craving by K.C. Burn

That’s it.  Now let’s see what happens.  Fingers crossed. Kindle charged. Sigh.

 

Just a Quick Reminder!

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October is one of my most favorite months.  Autumn is in full swing by then, bringing with it all the colors associated with Fall.  Rich reds, all shades of orange and yellow, with white, and purple mixed in.  This October will bring some marvelous book releases as well from Andrea Speed’s Infected: Lesser Evils, the latest in the outstanding Infected  series to But For You by Mary Calmes.  This is Sam and Jory’s last  book.  You may remember them from A Matter of Time (4 books in all) and the sequel  Bulletproof.  If you love them as much as I do, this is for you. Another I am looking forward to would be Sean Kennedy’s Tigerland, a sequel to Tigers and Devils, a great book.  And the one to start off October for me? That would be My Regelence Rake by JL Langley.  This is her long awaited sequel to The Englor Affair and the next in her Sci Regency series that started with My Fair Captain.

So all next week, from Monday to Sunday, I am running a contest to give away a copy from Samhain Publishing of My Regelence Rake to one person who comments during the week.  I will be recapping the previous books and talking to JL about Sci Regency, a term she coined.  So much is happening around here that I can get a little scattered.  So mark this down, please.  I look forward to hearing from you all.  And what  books are you looking forward to?  New ones I don’t know about?  New authors you have fallen in love with?  Give me a shout and fill me in!  TTFN!