Books, Donations, and Little Libraries. This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Books, Donations, and Little Libraries

I was walking by a bench last week and saw a paperback laying on it with no one around.  That’s a sight I can never resist so I walked over and picked it up.  Jane Austen’s Emma looked up at me all worn and obviously well read.  I opened the cover and there was a bookplate that read “Read me and Leave me for someone else to Enjoy.”  As tempted as I was to take it home, I left it where it was because I had read it , taking a leap of faith just much as the reader who left it there that someone who would need it would pick it up, read it, and then pass it on in another spot.  A book chain of love and letters hooking people together.

It did get me thinking of course…

Where do old books go?  Those beloved paperbacks, those dogeared, slightly yellowed copies of stories that sit on shelves and then you wonder what to do with?  Maybe you have several copies of the same book, having bought it a couple of times over, not remembering it was already in your collection (aye, the number of times that happened to me).  Maybe you were somewhere and just had to read it again…spur of the moment binge reading! Yep! That happens too.t didn’t stop there.

My neighborhood is sort of quirky. We have all sorts of people living here, ages, races, families, always have, its sort neat and packed away in a hollow where the houses don’t really turnover, Bernie Sanders signs never age, and everyone seems to know one another and argue over turtles in emails online.   So I wasn’t surprised to see a neighbor with a car whose cars are always sagging under the weight of books go slowly down our road, loaded to the roof once again.

Turns out she collects them for Free Libraries. Everywhere.  Should have known someone who helps me liberate shrubs headed for the landfill would do that.

Not familiar with Free Libraries?  LIttle Free Libraries?  Be still my heart!  They are cropping up everywhere!  In parks, front lawns, neighborhood circles, anywhere you can think to put a small box…that’s a place for a free library.  Load it up with books.  Take one, replace it with one.  There’s a site online with instructions on how to make boxes like the one above?  Kim Fielding even   wrote a wonderful story called, of course, The LIttle LIbrary!.

It’s a wonderful way to share those books that overpopulate your shelves and attic while sharing your enthusiasm.  And in a way you are becoming another link in the chain of people connected by  their love of books, worlds outside their own, and a need for something more.

Want to know more?  Check out

Little Free Library | Take a Book • Share a Book

We are going to talk more about donations, bookplates, next week.  Let me know your thoughts as well.
Also running….
If you all were to suggest a Literary Event for the calendar, what would it be?  An International LGBT Romance Story Day?  Triad in Lust Day?    Quiltbag Aliens HEA Day?  Give me some titles for our own special September literary events.  Let’s call it our LGBTQIA Literary  Event Title Giveaway!  Have your title chosen and we will have Stella set you up with a $10 gift card from Dreamspinners.  Giveaway runs through September 22.
  Meanwhile, we have a great week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words.
A new reviewer, Chaos Moondrawn starts in with her first review this week, I’m reviewing the 11th book in the Boystown series from Marshall Thornton,  Lila is reviewing the new C.S. Poe, Barb has the new Cordelia Knightsbridge, and so much more.  It’s going to be quite the week.  So don’t miss out on a day of it.

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, September 9:

  • The Enchanter’s Flame by Michele Notaro Blog Tour
  • A Stella Review: Courted by Sarah Hadley Brook
  • A Stella Review:  Patchwork Paradise by Indra Vaughn
  • Books, Donations, and Little Libraries
  • This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Monday, September 10:

  • Review Tour – RJ Scott – Second Chance Ranch
  • Blog Tour Calling Calling Calling Me by Natasha Washington
  •  BLITZ High Time by Keelan Ellis
  • A Lucy Review: Falling into Love (Family Found #1) by Kris T. Bethke and Nell Iris
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Second Chance Ranch (Montana #5) by R.J. Scott
  • A MelanieM Review: Dawn and Dusk (Day and Knight #3) by Dirk Greyson
  • A Stella Review: Calling Calling Calling Me by Natasha Washington

Tuesday, September 11:

  • Blog Tour A Ferry of Bones and Gold by Hailey Turner
  • DSP Promo Leigh Dillon on Raising the Bar
  • BLITZ Sentinel by Karrie Roman
  • A Vivacious Review: Breaking the Bonds (Cascade City Pack #2) by Rebecca James
  • A Lila Release Day Review: The Mystery of the Moving Image (Snow & Winter #3) by C.S. Poe
  • A Caryn Release Day Review: The Second Time Around by Rowan McAllister
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review:   New York Nightwings Collection by V.L. Locey

Wednesday, September 12:

  • In the Spotlight Tour and Giveaway: One-Eyed Royals (Seven of Spades #4) by Cordelia Kingsbridge
  • Review Tour – Marina Vivancus – In This Iron Ground
  • Cover Reveal – Love’s Trials by Janice Jarrell
  • A MelanieM Review:  In This Iron Ground by Marina Vivancus
  • A Lucy Review: Promises by Ruby Moone
  • A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Sentinel (Until You #2) by Karrie Roman
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: One-Eyed Royals (Seven of Spades #4) by Cordelia Kingsbridge

Thursday, September 13:

  • Blog Tour – That Feeling When by S. M. James
  • DSP Promo Andrew Grey on All For You
  • Release Blitz – His Heart Or Mine (The Individualists Series #1)by C S Joyce
  • A Vivacious Review: The Captain’s Ghostly Gamble by Catherine Curzon and Eleanor Harkstead
  • A MelanieM Review: Heart’s Desire (Boystown #11) by Marshall Thornton
  • A Stella Review: That Feeling When (#lovehim #1) by S.M. James

Friday, September 14:

  • Book Blast for We Have a Decision by Steph Marie
  • Release Blitz – Darcy – RJ Scott & Meredith Russell
  • Review Tour for Safe Place by Jay Northcote
  • An Ali Review:Shaker of Earth (SPECTR Series 2, #5by Jordan L. Hawk 
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: To Love Again by Andria Large
  • A Barb the Zany Old  Lady Review:  Safe Place (Rainbow Place #2) by Jay Northcote
  • An Alisa Review: The Long Way Around by Quinn Anderson

Saturday, September 15:

  • New Release Blitz Tour – Leta Blake’s Any Given Lifetime
  • The Hunt by J.M. Dabney & Davidson King Release Blitz
  • An Ali Review:  On Andross Station by J.C. Long
  • A MelanieM Review: Loving A Warrior by Melanie Hansen

 

 

 

 

 

 

Come on, Muse! Give Me a Break By Nancy Stewart (author of Beulah Land) (guest post and excerpt)

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Beulah Land by Nancy Stewart

Duet Books, an imprint of Interlude Press
Release Date: November 16, 2017

Cover Artist: CB Messer

Purchase Links:  Duet | Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Nancy Steward on her Beulah Land tour. Welcome, Nancy!

✒︎

 

Come on, Muse! Give Me a Break 

By Nancy Stewart, author of Beulah Land

What is it about muses? I know they take their work seriously, and yet conjuring up mine can be quite a chore at times.

I almost always search for her at the computer. She’s usually there, but not today. Sometimes she hides in my Favorites List. But not today. How about the Homepage? Nope. One more try my lists of guest posts. Occasionally, she will transform herself into a bright new post from an old one. Today, no such luck.

Not one to give up, I go to the gym. Strangely enough, she hangs out there quite a bit. And usually her gym ideas are good ones, full of life and vigor. She particularly likes the elliptical.  Actually, so do I. But after 25 minutes of trying to coax her to visit, I give up and move to other machines where I’ve never seen her ply her magic. One lives in hope.

On the way home, I stop by the bookstore and congratulate myself on a stroke of genius. She can’t not be there. It’s a muse kind of place, after all. She’s not there. Not even in the Young Adult books section. She’s always in the Young Adult books section. “Getting great ideas,” I usually tell her, but she sometimes rejects that notion.

Ah, well. I give up. I’ve learned there’s no future in sleuthing after a muse that does not want to be detected. So, home I go.

I consider the computer a lost cause, so I opt for a glass of iced tea and a comfy chair. And then, like a tiny bee buzzing in my brain, my muse appears. She speaks of Violette Sinclair, the brave and determined, and single-minded heroine of my new Young Adult novel, Beulah Land. She worries over Junior McKenna, Vi’s best friend, who puts himself in harm’s way to keep her alive in her own home town. My muse whispers the book’s ending to me, then smiles and says she loves it.

My muse is such a tease. But when she gets down to business, there’s no stopping her! Today, I’m only happy she visited, threw out a couple of notions then left me to ruminate. 

What is it about muses? I still haven’t figured out that answer. But though they are fey and capricious creatures, this author is grateful to have one.

If you haven’t met yours, don’t worry!  Give her the time and opportunity to make an appearance. Carry that little notebook. You know. The one that everyone says to take with you?  It’s crucial for dealing for a mischievous muse emergence. Read lots of books, particularly the genre you’re most interested in writing. It’s amazing how she can virtually pop off the page to infuse you with a brilliant idea.

Above all, while you wait for her, keep writing. I’ve found that most muses appear when one writes and writes and doesn’t give up. Taskmasters they may be, these little creatures know their stuff. You’ll be delighted when yours finds you.

Beulah Land Synopsis

Seventeen-year-old Vi Sinclair’s roots run deep in the Missouri Ozarks, where, in some areas, it can still be plenty dangerous to be a girl who likes girls. Her greatest wish is to become a veterinarian like her boss, Claire Campbell. Fitting in at school wouldn’t be so bad, either. Only one obstacle stands in the way: She may not live long enough to see her wishes ful lled.

With help from her only friend, Junior, Vi unravels a mystery that puts her in con ict with a vicious tormentor, a dog ght syndicate, and her own mother. Vi’s experience galvanizes her strength and veracity as she overcomes the paradox of mountain life, in which, even today, customs and mores seem timeless, and where a person can wake up dead simply because of being who she is.

Excerpt

“I don’t buy it,” my sister says, after not interrupting for a change. “There’s no way some random guy would be after us. I mean, for what reason? I don’t even know this Dale whatever his name is. You sure, Violette?”

“After listening to his rant? Yes, and that means you gotta be extra careful. I don’t want to scare you crazy. Don’t go places alone. You hear?”

Her gaze shifts away from my eyes, and she gives a tiny nod, but I’m not convinced she believes me or I believe her. “I have a suspicion there are secrets, Jessie, dark ones. And you and me? We’re being dragged in because of Mama.”

She picks up a plastic cat that Seth won for her at the county fair, examines it like it’s a priceless treasure and gently sets it back on the table. “So what can we do?”

“First, we gotta work out the real reason Dale’s after us.”

Jessie puts a smirky smile on me. “He’s after you because you’re not like us. Lots of folks around here’s downright vicious about it.”

I’m gonna ignore her nasty attitude. “Don’t think it’s that simple anymore, Jess. I got a pretty big notion what’s going on circles right back to Mama.”

My sister sighs, gathers her hair in a hunk, and moves it to her other shoulder. “If what you’re saying is true, Vi, we gotta go to the police.”

“Won’t do any good. I hear Sheriff Fletcher’s real close to the Woodbines. Best friends and all. If that’s true, nothing’s going to touch Dale.”

“Then we need to talk to Uncle Gray. With him being the clan head of us Sinclairs, it’s his sworn duty to protect us.”

“Not Uncle Gray. No. Not yet.” “Vi—”

“NO! I can take care of this on my own.”
“Why are you so stubborn if we’re in this much danger, Violette? People in these parts get

dead for a whole lot less than being gay. But since you are and everybody knows it, you got a real head start. You want that?”

“No, I don’t. But Uncle Gray, he’s got no respect or liking for me. Don’t you understand that, Jessie?”

“Yeah, and dead’s dead a long time. And you’re saying my life’s in danger now, so that’s something you should understand.” She flounces her hair back on both shoulders; a punctuation mark for being through with this conversation.

“I’m going out to get some air, Jess.”
She doesn’t answer, even when I slam the front porch door.
A lightning bolt zigzags between Bald Knob and Scoggins Ridge, as I settle on the top porch

step. Thunder growls like those Greek gods we studied battling over some old-timey feud, and a few fat raindrops splat on my head, chilling the tops of my legs.

Jess and Junior are pretty much right about me taking too many risks. I almost wish for once Mama would caution me on that. I long hard for her to love me for who I am. Mama, she always lays heavy on my heart.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

A professor of education specializing in Children’s and Young Adult Literature, Nancy Stewart is also the award-winning author of several bestselling books for young readers. The original manuscript for Beulah Land received the 2015 State of Florida Rising Kite Award from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She lives with her husband and an adopted Bichon/Shih Tzu pup, Louie, in Tampa, Florida.

Beulah Land will be published by Duet Books on November 16, 2017. Connect with author Nancy Stewart at nancystewartbooks.com and on Twitter at @stewartnancy.

An Author’s Interview with Gene Gant of In Time I Dream About You (author guest interview/new book release)

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In Time I Dream About You by Gene Gant
Harmony Ink Press
Cover Artist: Garrett Leigh

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Gene Gant here today talking about writing, books and In Time I Dream About You, the author’s latest release from Harmony Ink Press!

How much of yourself goes into a character?

Very little, if anything at all. I strive to make every character as distinct a person as possible. In the process of writing, each character becomes a separate individual to me, with his or her own personality, history, political views and opinions. As such, they often take off in directions that surprise me, pulling the story in an entirely unexpected direction. I always work from an outline of the plot, but I’m forced to be flexible with it when a character takes control of things. There really isn’t much opportunity for me to insert any of my experiences or personal views under such circumstances. (Although a character occasionally likes my favorite food, reads one of my favorite books, or dresses in a style I personally favor.) Besides, I’m not all that interesting. Readers want compelling characters. Unlike Gavin Goode, for example, I’ve so far lived a fairly uneventful life. Or, as Donald Trump might tweet: BORING.

How do you choose your covers? (curious on my part)

My publisher has a team of artists who work with authors to create covers. They begin with a series of questions to get an understanding of the plot, setting and characters along with the writer’s preferences. Using that information, they prepare two or more drafts of what will eventually become the cover. A great cover has to be eye-catching, convey a general sense of the story’s mood and pull the reader in. I usually go for the one that invokes the biggest emotional response in me, the one that makes me want to jump in and inhabit the world it depicts.

Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing?

Yes, definitely. I’ve always enjoyed fiction across a variety of genres, some of my favorites being contemporary, romance, mystery, fantasy, science fiction and horror. The stories I write fall mostly in the genres I love to read. I sometimes combine genres, as in the case of In Time I Dream About You, which is a blend of romance and science fiction/urban fantasy. Ironically, as a teenager, I read mostly adult novels by the likes of Stephen King, Peter Straub, James Patterson, John Grisham, J.R.R. Tolkien, Eric Jerome Dickey and Sue Grafton. Now, as an adult, I find myself reading an awful lot of—some would say far too much—young adult fiction.   

Have you ever had to put an ‘in progress’ story aside because of the emotional ties with it?  You were hurting with the characters or didn’t know how to proceed?

I’ve had to put stories aside for a variety of reasons. Sometimes I lose interest in the main character, which is never a good sign. Occasionally, I discover that an idea just doesn’t come together in the writing and needs to be revamped

In Time I Dream About You actually began as a tale more heavily tilted toward romance than science fiction, with Cato as the main character who falls in love with Gavin while observing him from the future. He knows Gavin dies in a tragic event and is torn between letting history take its course or violating the law against changing the past and saving Gavin. Perhaps a third of the way into the story, I found myself getting stuck. I’d fire up my computer and sit there staring at the screen, unable to write a word. I moved on to another project, unsure whether the story would ever get finished. After a few months, I read through what I’d written so far and realized I was focusing more on Gavin than Cato, because Gavin’s life was resonating more emotionally with me than Cato’s. Once I shifted the point of view to Gavin, I finished the story rather quickly. Gavin’s tale was less romantic than Cato’s would have been, but for me, the heart of the story was with him.

What’s next for you as an author?

At the moment, I’m working on a young adult novel about a lonely fifteen-year-old boy who gets dumped by his girlfriend and is surprised to find himself falling for one of his male teachers.  It’s more of a coming of age story than a romance, with the kid having to face certain truths about himself and the people in his life. I also have this idea percolating in my head about a boy who discovers he is adopted when his birth parents surface unexpectedly in his life, just as he is settling into a relationship with his new boyfriend. Beyond that, I have no other stories planned…yet, I should add. Ideas for stories tend to pop out of the blue on me, and I’m sure it won’t be long before my mind is conjuring up new characters and situations.

Blurb

Gavin Goode, a promising high school athlete with good grades, forfeited his future when he joined a brutal street gang called the Cold Bloods. The gang’s leader, Apache, discovered Gavin is gay and framed him for murder. Now in prison, Gavin faces rape and abuse on a daily basis as gang members there attempt to break him. When his father is critically injured and Gavin reaches his lowest point, a mysterious ally appears. Cato is much more than the guard he seems. He has come from the future, and he possesses the technology to undo everything that’s gone wrong in Gavin’s life.

But meddling in the timeline has dire consequences, and Gavin faces an impossible decision: sacrifice himself and his father, or let thousands of innocents die instead.

About the Author

‘m Tennessean by birth, a resident of Memphis for most of my life. I tried living in a few northern cities after graduating from college, but I couldn’t take the brutal winters, and I missed good ol’ southern barbecue. Now I make my home on a country lane outside of Memphis. When I’m not reading, working out, watching movies or spending time with family and friends, you can find me tapping away at my computer.

Website

A Caryn YA Release Day Review: Driven by MB Mulhall

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Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I found this book a frustrating combination of a nice spin on the hurt/comfort trope, but with frequent sections that bothered me: long boring inner monologues by the main character, Oliver, and moments of incredible stupidity that literally made me want to DNF the book several times. I persevered because I was reading it for this review, and in the end I was glad I did, but it was close! Oliver is a homeless young man who is brought out of the vicious cycle of his self-recrimination and loathing by the kindness of several people in the community. His love interest, Simon, is actually a rather small part of the group that ultimately makes Oliver believe that he can be loveable, and I thought that was pretty refreshing.

The book starts with a flash forward to a moment when it seems that Oliver is dying. He is thinking of all the people he will miss, and the story truly commences at the time when he first meets the main secondary characters in the book. Two kind old ladies offer him a place in their home on a provisional basis, with the expectation that he help them out around the house. In addition to food and shelter, they offer him respect and kindness, which he has a hard time accepting as he has come to think of himself as the worst kind of criminal. There are hints about an accident, and incarceration, though the details are not revealed (and then only sketchily so) until later in the book. Simon is the boy next door who also befriends the skittish Oliver and encourages him to stay and give the old ladies, and himself, a chance. In the end, of course, Oliver learns to believe in himself and have faith in others, and has a promising future – and that’s not really a spoiler, just the expected resolution of a hurt/comfort romance.

The tragic events in Oliver’s past life were only somewhat vaguely explained, and I didn’t truly follow the path from accident to jail to homelessness. It was all fueled by Oliver’s self-hate, but those endless monologues just made me think he was whiny rather than feeling compassionate for his suffering. He also several times got into situations that he responded to with “too stupid to live” actions that just made no sense, when he was otherwise supposed to be a pretty smart guy. Those seemed like gratuitous drama and angst to me, and completely turned me off. I think different writing could have made me believe that Oliver’s self-hate was justified, but I just didn’t feel it. I didn’t get what his art had to do with anything, it really felt superfluous to his personality and to the story. I never understood what kind of hold Marcus had (the bad guy) had over him. The book was also fairly long for the plot and action that occurred, which I blame on those long monologues, and that made the pace of the book slow, and I found myself putting it down frequently to pursue something more exciting – like doing laundry.

I guess, in the end, the blurb was everything I wanted the story to be, but the execution was kind of a swing and a miss for me.

Cover art by Anna Sikorska was very appropriate for the story, and the empty section of highway was good for the initial somber tone of the story.

Sales Links

Harmony Ink Press

Book Details:

ebook, 210 pages
Published March 7th 2017 by Harmony Ink Press
ISBN 1635332796 (ISBN13: 9781635332797)
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: Run for it All by Carolyn Levine Topol

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Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5

run-for-it-allDavid Martin isn’t happy when he finds out he has to go live with his father and his father’s partner while his mothers are overseas on a work-related project during his sophomore year.  But his tune changes after he gets to know Kevin Ringer, the captain of the track team—the young man who will eventually be David’s lover.

During the first six months or so, living with his dad and his dad’s partner, Scott, who also happens to be his high school track coach, he’s shocked by how much he comes to appreciate Scott. So much in his life changes within such a short time that he finds himself wishing for even more time with Kevin, Scott, and his dad, who has now become very important to him. It surprises them all when he reveals how much he now respects Scott and even loves him, and he makes Scott’s day when he announces he’s decided to call Scott Pop. 

There’s plenty of drama throughout the story as his father learns the meaning of being a full time parent and acquires the skills to express his love and respect for his son; there’s also an ongoing issue with the track team member who was previously involved in an attack on Kevin.  And, of course, there’s the love story developing between David and Kevin and David’s angst over whether or not he has to leave behind everything and everyone he’s grown to love.

It might have been a good story, but I didn’t care for the author’s writing style, including the portrayal of David’s character and personality, which I comment on further below.  But—here’s one of my biggest quirks with the writing—when the author first used the phrase “(he) rolled his lips,” I thought it was supremely awkward, but then it was used again and I started to squirm. The third time, I began to highlight the instances on my app and ultimately found it was used 8 times!  I’m sorry, but no. First, it’s too weird to picture, and second, that’s way too many times to use a term like that in one story.  I’m surprised the editor didn’t pick up on it.

Another issue, and granted, I may be very old-fashioned, but I found the way David spoke, whether with family or friends, to be extremely mature and somewhat formal. Yes, he’s a smart kid and was raised by intelligent women, but I just felt his language and behaviors were over-the-top too formal and mature for a fifteen year old. And speaking of fifteen—I also found it odd that both sets of parents saw no issue in letting the boys stay overnight in each other’s homes, knowing they were having sex. I may have lost touch with today’s reality, but there wouldn’t be full, penetrative sex in my home and condoned by me if my child was that age. Thankfully, the sex was off page, but I’m still surprised because most YA books I’ve read have held off mentioning having full sex until both boys were eighteen.

So, although the book was okay, and I liked a few parts, primarily the relationship between David and his two “dads,” I wouldn’t recommend it.

The cover by Alexandria Corza features head shots of two young men set against a background of a track meet, depicting the primary focus of the story.

Sales Links

Harmony Ink Press

7104e-waxcreative-amazon-kindle

Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages
Expected publication: September 22nd 2016 by Harmony Ink Press
ISBN 1634770668 (ISBN13: 9781634770668)
Edition LanguageEnglish

Love Fantasy Fiction? Author Tom Early Talks About His Inspiration and New Release Aspect of Winter (interview, excerpt and contest)

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BT_Banner

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Tom Early here to answer a few  questions about himself, writing and his latest release, Aspect of Winter.  Welcome, Tom.  We have a few questions for you this morning.

Q.  Why write for YA readers?

YA is where representation matters most. There aren’t enough YA books out there that feature protagonists that aren’t straight, and there are even fewer books that manage to be the proper adventure fantasy story and just also happen to have gay characters. I want to help change that.

Q.  I have always loved the idea of a college for magical studies, what draws you to this element?

It’s kind of impossible to ignore the influence Harry Potter has on any author who attempts to write a magical school type of story, and I won’t deny that it definitely helped give me the idea. But Harry Potter is about early schooling, and not more of a college element. Janus University seems kind of like the next logical step for what to portray. You’ve got powers, and that’s great. But what do you do with them? What is the world like when magic is readily available and there’s no real control of powers after a certain point? Aspect of Winter, especially the later books in the series, aims to answer that.

Q.  Friends to lovers is a favorite trope for so many readers, is it one of yours too?

It depends. I’ve never been a fan of childhood friends to lovers because it just seems unrealistic to have two people who have been as friends for years and years to suddenly want to be more. But newer friendships that eventually expand their boundaries is far more realistic for me. I find the idea of a friendship that progresses over a few months to a relationship to be a lot better, and a lot less abrupt than love at first sight, either. Love takes time to grow, but it isn’t something that is inherently likely to happen from years of friendship, either.

Q.  Do you have a favorite story that you read as a younger reader?

I read The Name of the Wind many, many times when I was younger, and still do occasionally even now. I wouldn’t quite call it YA, but it’s definitely read just as much by teens as it is adults. The story just manages to set up a slow pace and make it work, which, especially for fantasy, is incredibly difficult to do well.

Q.  What feeling do you want your readers to take away at the end of this and any of your stories?

Aspect of Winter is meant to be a story that you enjoy reading. I wrote it to entertain myself, and hopefully it entertains anyone who reads it as well. But making Fay gay, and Sam pansexual, and Tyler bisexual isn’t a coincidence. I want people to realize that it’s just as easy to enjoy a good YA book with non-straight main characters as any other.

Q. Did you bring any of your school history and make it part of the Janus College learning experience?

The high school Fay and Sam go to at the beginning of Aspect of Winter is loosely based off my own high school experience. Their efforts to get into Janus University is like a fictionalized, combat fantasy version of the college application process. And their time at Janus University in book two is meant to be similar to my own college experience in the feeling of freedom and courses and choices offered, but Janus University is a bit more ruthless than my own school is.

Q.  What’s next for Tom Early?

Well, there’s definitely book two, which is tentatively titled The Doorway God at the moment. I’m about in the middle of it at the moment and working pretty much every day on it. But I have other novels I’m working towards publication with as well. One of them is high fantasy and features a bisexual assassin and an asexual princess and an epic plot against the safety of the entire world, and another tells the story of a possibly delusional young man trying to find a boy who was taken from his mother in 1930’s England. But finishing the Aspect series is first on my list.

AboutTheBook

22930117Title: Aspect of Winter

Author: Tom Early

Publisher: Harmony Ink Press

Cover Artist: Sadie Thompson

Length: 260 pages

Release Date: October 15, 2015

Blurb: It’s hard enough being gay in high school, but Fay must also deal with hiding his magical ability—powers he barely understands and cannot possibly reveal. His best friend Sam is his only confidante, and even with her help, Fay’s life is barely tolerable.

Everything changes when Janus University, a college for individuals with magical capabilities, discovers the pair. When the university sends a student to test them, Fay and Sam, along with their classmate Tyler, are catapulted headfirst into a world of unimaginable danger and magic. Fay and Tyler begin to see each other as more than friends while they prepare for the Trials, the university’s deadly acceptance process. For the first time, the three friends experience firsthand how wonderful and terrible a world with magic can be, especially when the source of Fay’s power turns out to be far deadlier than anyone imagined.

Excerpt

 

AS IT turned out, being wedged into the small space below the math wing staircase was exactly as uncomfortable as I’d imagined. Now, I was in there of my own choice, sort of. I held still and listened, letting out a sigh of relief when I heard the boys’ voices fading. I decided it was safe and did my best to wriggle out.

Groaning, I brushed myself off and realized that I’d somehow managed to cover the majority of my backpack in a thick layer of dust. Rumor had it that years ago the staircase used to be green. Now it was gray. I looked at my backpack in disgust and let out a breath, concentrating. The dust glittered as a layer of frost covered it. When I hoisted my bag onto my back once more, the dust slid right off, the frost preventing it from clinging.

Clean backpack in hand, I trudged up the stairs, across the hall, and walked into the classroom. I took my customary seat in the back next to the poster detailing the derivative rules of calculus, feeling a flash of pity for Ms. King as I watched her try to get anyone to listen, and grabbed my book of the day as the front row began its usual antics. Today they asked Ms. King about her love life, which, while incredibly rude, was extremely successful in throwing her off-balance.

I would never understand high school, even after nearly four years of it. It seemed barely tolerable for everyone involved, including the people who fit in. I didn’t fit in, and so every day was a new chapter in the purgatory of hiding what I could do.

I sent a grateful prayer to the high school gods as class was interrupted by an announcement saying we needed to go to the nurse’s office for a new immunization or something. Ms. King pulled us out of the truly thrilling world of integrals and sent us down one at a time. I was one of the last to go.

Stepping back into the hallway, I prayed that I wasn’t going to run into any of Logan’s crowd again on my way down. The number of times I’d heard “fag” muttered under someone’s breath was already too high.

The school had two hallways running between the faculty area and the math wing, and most people took the lower one. I chose the glass hallway because it was usually empty (this surprised me as well, but apparently using stairs was just too much for many of my classmates), and it was pretty cool to be able to see the entire campus from what was effectively its highest point. I trailed a finger across the glass as I walked, leaving behind a fractal line of frost in the warm September air.

I smirked. For as long as I’d been at Owl’s Head High School, there had been, in the eloquent phrasing of high schoolers, “spooky shit” in the fall and spring where kids would come across ice or cold areas in warm weather. I knew I needed to keep my head down, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t have a little fun.

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AboutTheAuthor

Tom Early is currently a student at Tufts University who probably spends more time than is wise reading and writing instead of studying. More often than not, he can be found wrapped in a blanket on the couch forgetting most of the things he was supposed to do that day.

When not writing, Tom can be found either reading, gaming, drawing, scratching his dog, or bothering his friends. He also frequently forgets that it’s healthy to get more than six hours of sleep a night, and firmly believes that treating coffee as the most important food group makes up for this. If you show him a picture of your dog, he will probably make embarrassingly happy noises and then brag about his own dog. He’s always happy to talk about any of his previous or current writing projects, because people asking him about them reminds him that he should really be writing right now.

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A MelanieM Scary Review Redux: Necromancy and You (Guidebook #02) by Missouri Dalton

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A Scary Review Redux!

Rating: 5 stars out of 5   ☠☠☠☠☠

Necromancy and You cover full sizeAlter (Al) Skelton is just like  any other 15 year old who is obsessed with death.  He has a purple and black bedroom full of skulls, walls decorated with Day of the Dead posters and a vent where he hides all his copies of Raising the Dead from Cemetery Comics.  Shortly after his 15th birthday, Al sends away for a copy of  Necromancy and You with a coupon out of the back of his Raising the Dead comic along with the box tops from three boxes of Count Chocula cereal. The book he receives in the mail is so much more than he expected.  Instead of a paperback, Al gets a heavy leather bound book addressed to him and immediately his life starts to change dramatically.

From the moment Al starts to read the book, he realizes something is weird.  The spells in the book are working for him as a disastrous incident in his science lab demonstrated.  Al can raise the dead.  Now he’s a boy with a plan and the ability to raise the dead.  That plan? To raise his dead father and get his family back together.  But so many obstacles block his path.  The man his mother is dating is hateful and abusing, too bad he is also Al’s psychiatrist. An evil group called the Coalition operates a school for Necromancers and they will do everything in their power to bring Al into their fold. Suddenly Al’s world is full of ghouls, ghosts, vampires, and talking dead frogs.  What’s a young budding necromancer to do when danger is all around him in a world turned more dark and scary than usual?

Missouri Dalton has created an instant classic for older teens and adults alike with Necromancy and You, the second story in the Guidebook series.  Never have I been so enthralled by a young 15 year old like Al Skelton.  As created by Dalton, Al is a brilliant, depressed social outcast, who lives for his Raising the Dead comics and memories of his old family life.  His father died five years before when Al was 10, an event that happened while his dad was away on business so Al never got to say goodbye. Since then, his mother has turned cold and distant, spending all her time either at work or with her  new boyfriend, a sadistic man who also happens to be Al’s psychiatrist.  With his present life a nightmare, Al would like nothing better than his family back together again, happy and whole, an impossibility considering his dad is dead.  If this description starts to conjure up visions of Harry Potter, then yes, there are similarities.  But for me, I find Al Skelton far more interesting and quite a bit darker.  He is also far more sarcastic and self aware than Harry seemed to be.  But I guess that comes with being a Necromancer. albeit a budding one as well as being a bit of a smartmouth.

Dalton’s narrative is so clever, so enthralling and her main character so charismatic and appealing that the reader is pulled in instantly, immediately hooked on Dalton’s world building and Al’s life. Oh the life of a teenager at 15, it’s such a tough one.  Hormones are raging, poised between child and adult, the world can be a harsh place, especially if that teenager is just a little different from everyone else.  Dalton takes this truism and gives us a darker version.  Al doesn’t just think everyone is out to get him, they really are.  Lonely, upset and missing his father and the way his family used to be? That should sound familiar to any number of kids these days. And if the normal world is scary place for them, what would happen if you then find out that vampires, ghouls, zombies and ghosts are real and you are not quite human?

Lucky for us, we get to find out as Al goes from normal teen to powerful Necromancer and beyond.  This is how it all starts:

When the package arrived, that clear crisp morning on the twenty-third of October, I knew it would be a good day. The package was green, vibrant and shiny, tied with black string. The address label was white with black letters that spelled my name.

Alter Skelton

215 Bridge Lane

Verity, IL 34055

It was a package I’d been waiting for seven weeks and three days. Waiting ever since I mailed in the coupon out of the back of Raising the Dead along with the box tops from three boxes of Count Chocula cereal. The ad had caught my attention immediately, gleaming on the slightly thicker glossy paper of the back cover, in bright green and black and white.

Learn to control the forces of life and death! This book will change your life!

I knew in a heartbeat I would do anything to get my hands on it. So despite my normal tendency toward not eating breakfast, I ate it. I also started to act less strange around my mother to decrease suspicion. And now, on a Saturday morning, I had my book.

I took the parcel immediately to my room. My mother was out shopping, so I had a good couple hours to peruse the book before shoving it behind the vent cover where I kept my issues of Raising the Dead and the pornographic magazine Tommy had foisted on me after his mother started cleaning his room again.

And then later on, once Al is safely in his room:

I cleared the detritus off of my bed, mostly clothes, and unwrapped the parcel.

The book was heavy, and as I tore away the paper, I noticed it was not the paperback copy I’d expected from the photo in the back of the comic. The cover, by the feel, was leather, black. On the very front there was incised decoration: bright green lines indented as a border around a white skull that felt and looked like bone. Over the skull, in silver lettering, was the title.

Necromancy and You!

Underneath the skull was a secondary title. From A to Zombie

There was no author listed. On the interior page was a notation.

A Stone House publication copyright 1344. Do not redistribute. Books sold without covers are considered stripped books; the house nor the author receives payment. Please refrain from purchasing stripped books.

And on the next page.

Welcome, young master! You have chosen to take the first step in a wonderful journey! Herein are the methods, practices, and rules of the way of Necromancy! Please read the entire first chapter thoroughly before proceeding to the Practical Applications to ensure safety!

Well. Safety was important. One wouldn’t want to raise anyone on accident or anything. No need to get the neighborhood riled with corpses walking about. Or skeletons. Or both.

No, secrecy was key here.

The neighbors were too nosy as it was. Then again, so was my mother.

And from the moment Al opens the book and begins to read, his journey (and ours) has started.  There is no going back, not that he would want to of course, at least in the beginning. Al has a unique voice, it’s quirky, it self effacing and it definitely belongs to a teenager.  It has just that right amount of young perspective and cluelessness while still sounding aware and confident.  How I love this boy.  Al is also remarkably resilient and he has to be. Because before him are so many unpleasant truths about his world and horrifying events to cope with that the ability to take such things in stride is necessary for his survival.

Along his journey he also meets a cadre of remarkable personalities and creatures, some friend, some foe, and some just well….we just don’t know where they stand.  But all of them are exquisitely created.  They team with life or unlife (!) as the case may be.  Some are personalities that we have met already in Vampirism and You (Guidebook #01), including that m/m couple of foster vampire Duncan and 17 year old Louis.  They loom large in Al’s future but more than that I won’t say.  You will have to discover the details for yourself.  All the characters involved are memorable, some charming, some chilling and several downright evil.  But no matter what side they fall on, good or bad, they are all believable and realistic right down to the smallest detail.

Dalton moves her narrative along at a swift and smooth pace and you will want to scamper along with her, wanting to rush to see where the plot is taking Al and you next.  But slow down, don’t miss any of the details, even the ones that seem so insignificant.  There is so much layering here, of plot twists, relationship dynamics, family dynamics, young love (more on that later), the trials and tribulations of growing up….you name it and Missouri Dalton has incorporated it into her story.  But  Dalton does so effortlessly, her narrative never feeling jumbled up or dense.  Really, this is an outstanding book in a remarkable  series.

There are some things that should be noted. Necromancy and You as well as the Guidebook series are categorized as a YA book, a category I do agree with one limitation.  I don’t feel it is appropriate for anyone under the age of 15 (Al’s age).  While a kiss between the hero and heroine is the sexiest this gets, there are mild suggestive comments for the sexual activities of a few other couples.  Nothing explicit, nothing even major, but its there.  My limitations pertaining to age is more along the lines of the traumatic events that occur.  Al is hurt numerous times and while we are spared the details, it happens and younger children might be upset. People die and there are other potentially violent  scenes.  They are necessary for the book and work beautifully within the narrative.  Most of the violence is “off stage” as it were, but the emotional impact is huge.  These events are as beautifully constructed as the rest of the story so yes, you will feel them just as Al does.  This is an emotionally moving, heartfelt and heartrending story.  It has the power to bring tears to your eyes even as they are rolling down our hero’s face.

In addition to giving us an intrepid young man, Dalton gives us an equally resourceful heroine. This is a minor romance happening within the storyline.  Al is straight and there is a slight romance starting here.  One that I suspect will grow over the course of the series, along with that of our m/m couple Louis and Duncan.  Again, like every other teenage, young love finds a way, no matter your sexual preference.  But this series is geared towards suspense and mystery of the supernatural kind.  The romances that occur are secondary to the main focus of the series,  a battle brewing against good and evil, that eternal conflict with surprising elements to each side.  I wanted to order print copies immediately and go running along crowded sidewalks, passing them out and yelling at them to  “read this book”!!!!!  Teenagers, young adults, old adults, and everyone in between needs to read this book, invest themselves in the series.

As you may have guessed, I enthusiastically recommend this book and this series.  I will leave you with a few thoughts from Al himself:

I just couldn’t take normal life seriously.

“Mr. Skelton, are you paying attention?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Good, then you can complete the problem on the board.”

Do. Not. Kill.

That should not be anyone’s daily mantra.

While it may not be ours, I love that it is Al’s.  Run, fly, do whatever you have to do, but get this book!

Cover art.  I love the cover.  Doesn’t it seem just right for a educational tome?

Sales Links:  Torquere Books  |    Amazon | Buy It Here

Here is the Guidebook stories in the order they were written:

Vampirism and You (Guidebook #01) (strictly M/M)

Necromancy and You (Guidebook #02) (romance is hardly there at all)

Book Details:

ebook, 206 pages
Published July 3rd 2013 by Prizm Books
ISBN1610404939 (ISBN13: 9781610404938)
edition languageEnglish
series Guidebook 

 

An Aurora YA Review: Evolution by Lissa Kasey

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 Rating: 5 out of 5  ★★★★★

Evolution coverGene Sage has only ever wanted to sing, but his band, Evolution, is pushing him toward the big time. He finds it hard to focus on making musical history when he’s dreaming of graveyards and seeing ghosts. And while all he can think of is hiding who he is from a world unforgiving of anyone different, he discovers he’s also the ultimate snack for vampires and demons. When Gene literally runs into—over—his idol, Kerstrande Petterson, rock god, vampire in hiding, and music cynic, his life falls over the edge into chaos.Jaded by the world and nearly a decade in the music business, Kerstrande thinks Gene wants to use him to make Evolution immortal in more than one way, but he can’t seem to brush aside the young singer’s enthusiasm.Getting involved with Kerstrande drags Gene into otherworldly power struggles. Between the ghosts stalking them, the media painting supernaturals as villains, and a vampire out of control in the city, the only way for Gene and Kerstrande to survive is for Gene to embrace his powers—and his destiny.I really, really enjoyed this book. One of my favorite things about the book was the descriptions. Straight away I had a very clear picture in my head of everything that was going on and that’s one of my favorite things about reading. It can, however, be hard to toe the line between using enough description that a reader can clearly picture the scene and using too much and having your story get bogged down in it which I don’t believe happened in this book at all.

Another thing I really enjoyed about the book was the two point of views for the two different main characters every chapter. It really made them both, especially Kerstrande, more likable and relatable to be able to see what was going on in both of their heads in their own unique voices rather than seeing the entire book through one’s eyes over the other’s.
If I had to nitpick, there was some exposition toward the beginning that slowed the first one or two chapters down, but it wasn’t something I really had a problem with since as soon as the plot got under way the book got right back to a good pace and I was certainly never bored by it, even in the first chapter or two when there was a lot of information.
Overall, it was a fun read, and one that I think was very well written. I would recommend it to people who like supernatural themes and modern fantasies.
The cover art was done by Paul Richmond and I really like it. It’s a pretty simplistic cover, but it has a lot of color and personality. It’s very eye-catching which is something that can always be helpful to a book. All in all, very well done.
Sales Links:  DSP Publications |  Amazon | Buy It Here
Book Details:
DSP Publications (a non romance imprint of Dreamspinner)
2nd Edition, first edition Harmony Ink Press
Release Date: July 28, 2015
Words: 71336
Pages: 250
ISBN-13: 978-1-63476-061-4
File Formats: epub, mobi, pdf
Coming Soon: “Evolution: Genesis”

A YA on YA Saturday Special: Aurora on Reading and Writing YA Fiction

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A YA on YA Saturday Special

Our YA Reviewer, Aurora, on Reading and Writing YA Fiction

 

Since I was young, I always liked to read anything and everything. Our house was filled with books, and by the time I was about ten I had read every single one of them. I never bothered with books that were geared toward any specific age group until I went to school, and when I got there I found out some pretty strange things.

I like young adult books a lot, and the genre is growing and gaining popularity every day. However, when I first started reading books that featured teenage protagonists, I found an overwhelming amount of the exact same things. Stories set in high schools that were all about, especially where a female main character was concerned, finding a date to the senior prom and navigating backstabbing friends. I was pretty disappointed with my options, since, although I love almost all books, I’ve always preferred fantasy.

It has been so amazing to see the genre expand in the past few years, and to see young adult books get smarter and smarter. It is a discredit to a young adult writer’s audience for them to assumed that young adults can’t read and appreciate fiction written on the same level fiction geared toward adults is written on. I feel like young adult writers are really beginning to understand that and with every new book that comes out and every book I read that is written in this new golden age of young adult fiction, I get more and more excited about the genre and its future.

Speaking as a writer, inspiration can come from anywhere, and it should. No one should dismiss an idea they’re inspired by simply because they’re writing a book for teenagers rather than for adults. In the books that I write myself, I hope to always show in my books that I view young adults as being just as smart as their older counterparts. They deserve a rich and varied collection of books as much as anyone else does.

As you read young adult books, and as the were grows every day, hopefully we will see less and less of authors talking down to their audience. Already the books I read every day for reviews and for personal enjoyment show such a positive change from what I was reading even a few years ago. I am so proud of the growth in young adult books.

                                                                                                                                       ~ Aurora

Some  Recent Aurora YA Reviews and Recommended Stories:

After I Wake coverSlaying Isidore's Dragons coverOnce Upon A time IN America CoverDreams Dreams of Fire and Gods

 

 

 

A Aurora YA Review: Under the Stars by Geoff Laughton

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Rating: I give this book 5 out of 5 stars

Under the Stars coverDSP : “Ethan Tanner is an out and proud, fastidious, and fashionable sixteen-year-old vegetarian who likes theater and musicals. This year, it’s his sister’s turn to pick the vacation destination, so he ends up on a dude ranch he knows he is going to hate. What with the dirt, animals, and germs, he can’t possibly be happy.

Jason McCoy is the closeted sixteen-year-old son of the ranch owners and is trying to find his place in a world that doesn’t seem to fit him. He takes an interest in Ethan, shows him around, and gets him to ride a horse. When he invites Ethan camping, Ethan thinks Jason must be joking. But Ethan takes a risk, and the two boys bond under the stars.

After that, Ethan and Jason are inseparable. Their friendship grows into something deeper as they begin to figure out what they want from life. But Ethan’s home is in Chicago, and the distance might be more than the two teenagers—and their blossoming relationship—can withstand.”

 

Under the Stars follows a sixteen year old boy, Ethan, as he goes on a vacation with his parents and little sister to a ranch. At first, Ethan is reluctant to go and doesn’t think he’ll enjoy the trip much at all, but because it was his sister’s turn to choose where they wanted to go, he didn’t have much choice. When he actually arrives at the ranch, Ethan quickly connects with the owner’s son, Jason, and the two of them develop a close relationship.

As someone who isn’t usually much of a fan of contemporary, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. Within the first few pages I was completely drawn in, and I related to Ethan immediately. One thing I absolutely loved about this book was the representation of Ethan’s parents and the close relationship they had, even though they didn’t all necessarily agree throughout the entire book. It didn’t go the route of representing parents as being completely unsupportive, which I think could be a great thing for young adults who are reading this book and might be considering coming out to their parents to see that positive dynamic represented.

Jason and Ethan were both great characters who I loved seeing interact with each other, and all of their discussions and the things they did seemed very real. Ethan’s growth, especially, throughout the book, was something I really enjoyed, because he did change, but he held onto who he was and he didn’t make a one-eighty turn around. All in all, I really enjoyed this book and I would definitely read it again any time.

Cover Artist: L.C. Chase

The cover art is simple, but pretty and well suited to the book. I think the dark color scheme definitely makes it appealing, while the bright color of the fire draws the readers eyes to the bottom of the page where the artist wants them to look.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner ebook & Paperback      All Romance eBook     amazon      Under the Stars

Book Details:

ebook, 180 pages, YA young adult title
Published October 9th 2014 by Harmony Ink Press
ISBN139781632163080