3 Stars, Ceci Thornton, Paranormal, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Lisa, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Self-Published

Review: Saved by the Shifter by Ceci Thornton

Amazon

Amazon

Title: Saved by the Shifter

Author: Ceci Thornton

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 212 Pages

At a Glance: In spite of some niggles here and there, the action sequences in Saved by the Shifter made for some suspenseful reading.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: Nate Palmer is desperate enough to try anything to find his missing niece…

Nate has cared for his niece Beth since she was a baby, and now the sixteen-year old has disappeared without a word. The only clue he has is a letter she left behind from her birth mother. He’d do anything to find her, even if it means turning to a down-on-his-luck private investigator working out of a store front in a strip mall—one with the ability to sniff out more clues.

Dexter Armstrong is a lone wolf looking to use his tracking skills to do some good…

Dexter had a pack once, but left, disgusted by their lack of appreciation for their gift. But business is bad and his roof is leaking. He’s just about ready to throw in the towel on that lonely life when Nate walks in the door, looking helpless and smelling delectable.

Together they will travel to the seediest parts of LA

Even as he’s focused on finding his niece, Nate can’t help but be drawn to Dexter’s powerful dominance. And Dexter becomes more and more certain that Nate’s his fated mate. Can their attraction survive the reveal of Dexter’s true nature? And can they both survive the supernatural perils that they will face in their quest to find Beth—and to find the kind of love and family both have been dreaming of?

Dividers

Review: When Nate Palmer’s older brother, Craig, was busted for selling drugs to an off-duty cop and sent to prison, Nate became sole caretaker of his niece Beth. Beth’s mother isn’t in the picture any longer, having fled to parts unknown years before, so Nate truly is Beth’s only hope at a normal life—and they’d gotten along well, too, until Beth hit the terrible teens. Now Beth has gone missing, Nate is beside himself with worry and fear, and his one hope of finding his niece and getting her back home safely seems to be Private Investigator Dexter Armstrong.

That’s the quick setup for Ceci Thornton’s Saved by the Shifter, a novel that taps into the shifter bonding trope, albeit only shallowly, to bring Nate and Dexter together as partners in sex as well as in tracking down Nate’s niece. As I’ve said any number of times before, sometimes the device works for me, sometimes it doesn’t. A lot depends on how well the author convinces me, after that initial spark of lust has struck, that the two guys have what it takes to be a couple. I liked Dexter and Nate, and though I had some quibbles over their initial meeting and the lack of exploration in what they have in common other than lust, the fact they go through hell and back with each other did help to make the bond somewhat more believable. There’s something to be said for not only going into battle together but then surviving.

While Saved by the Shifter is categorized as a Mystery, I have to say I felt Dexter’s role as a PI was pretty well in title only, made so by the simple lack of a true mystery in this plot. We don’t have to wait long to discover what happened to Beth, and Dexter isn’t even the one who searched for the clues to track her down, so we don’t get to see him at work much in that role. The information on Beth’s whereabouts is effectively dumped in his lap, which I felt was a bit of a let-down as I’d prepped myself for a good missing person investigation, but once I understood the storyline was more Urban Fantasy than an all-out Mystery, the positive becomes the author’s ability to write a tense and suspenseful action scene. Of course, Dexter’s shifter half comes in handy along the way too, as he’s fairly certain of the danger Beth is in before it’s confirmed, so that added to the tension in the storyline and made for some excitement during the book’s climactic scene.

There are several things that, overall, I felt could have been explored in greater detail in this book, much of it revolving around Dexter as a character. I think the potential for him to be more interesting and layered was missed in the lack of background details about him—we get a few facts, but to make him more interesting, knowing where he came from, who he came from, what he came from, what shifter mythology inspired his character, would have gone a long way to building interest in him as a supernatural character for me. Essentially, we get no world-building to speak of (which left me with some distracting questions during Beth’s rescue), and even more confusing for me, was a group of shifters that materialized and disappeared from the story and left me scratching my head—one moment they appear threatening, the next, they were there to cover Dexter’s back. There’s a history there that most definitely was missing, and I’d have loved to know more of it—why they were antagonists one moment, saviors the next. And while I’m on the subject of characters, here, I will say I liked the sweet reunion between Nate and Beth, and felt the affection between them was genuine and well portrayed.

In the end, though I feel the book could have used some more exposition, I liked Saved by the Shifter for what it was—a vehicle to bring two likable men together to form their own little pack.

TNA_Signature_Lisa

 

 

 

 

You can buy Saved by the Shifter here:

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4.5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Jacob Z. Flores, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Reviewed by Karen, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: Soul Struck by Jacob Z. Flores

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Amazon

Title:  Soul Struck (The Warlock Brothers of Havenbridge: Book Three)

Author:  Jacob Z. Flores

Publisher:  Dreamspinner Press

Page/Word Count:  224 Pages

At a Glance:  It really is a toss up which book I like best in this series.

Reviewed By:  Karen

Blurb: Like the electricity he commands, Pierce Blackmoor streaks through life on raw power and pure sexual energy. His conquests on the battlefield and in the bedroom form his foundation, but that bedrock crumbles when his younger brothers’ abilities surpass his own. Pierce finds himself at an all-time low, and clawing his way back to the top becomes his only concern.

Pierce’s plan to reassert his dominance, however, takes a backseat when he wounds Kale Aquilo, an emissary of the Beast King, lord of all shifters.

Kale’s beguiling nature shoots like a lightning bolt straight to Pierce’s soul, and when the soft-spoken Kale relays that a virus is killing his people, Pierce abandons his quest for power to do something he has never done before—protect someone other than himself.

As Kale, Pierce, and his brothers struggle to find the root of the magical virus spreading plague across Aeaea, the shifter island, they face a gauntlet of old and new foes. Soul struck, Pierce and Kale must uncover the truth behind the conspiracy gathering in the shadows.

Dividers

Review: Before I’d started this book, I was pretty sure that this was the one in the series I was going to like the least, since Pierce was nowhere near a favorite character of mine.  I mean, come on, he kind of came off like he was a power hungry jerk in previous books, and really, not at all that likeable.

But I was so wrong. Which really shouldn’t surprise me since any thoughts I’d had regarding what I was going to think of the other books in this series were all wrong too. I should have known better at this point… When Pierce finds Kale, then seeing his reaction to him, completely changed how I viewed this character. All of a sudden, being the most powerful wasn’t what was most important to him, and the journey with these two was amazing. You see almost a complete shift in how Pierce looks at things and in what becomes important to him.

With each new book we see another aspect of this world come to life, and it really is a toss up, now that I have read Soul Struck, which book I like the best so far, because honestly, the series wasn’t something I thought I would enjoy at all to begin with. After reading the first book on a friend’s recommendation, though, I now can’t wait to see what will come next.

TNA_Signature_Karen

 

 

 

 

You can buy Soul Struck here:

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5 Stars, AJ Rose, Genre Romance, Horror, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Lynn, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Self-Published

Review: Reaping Havoc by AJ Rose

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Amazon

Title: Reaping Havoc

Author: AJ Rose

Publisher: The Grim Writer Press

Pages/Word Count: 282 Pages

At a Glance: The concept of this story is amazing. I loved the author’s take on the grim reaper mythology.

Reviewed By: Lynn

Blurb: No one asked Mitch Seeker if he wanted to be a grim reaper. He didn’t sign up for the rumors, the lack of friends, or the erratic schedule. He doesn’t want to go through life watching people die. Especially not a man he loves. Mitch’s solution is simple—don’t fall in love. He’ll never have to explain why he doesn’t age or why he’s around death so often. Most of all, he will never be a widower.

But when his head is turned by world-class skier Nate Koehn, Mitch believes he may have the answer. If the soul attached to Nate is any indication, Mitch has found himself another reaper, in which case, his undeniable feelings don’t have to be suppressed. However, the spectral tag-a-long is only the beginning of Nate’s burdens. After a catastrophic loss, Nate is no stranger to grief and the hole it leaves behind.

The question they both must answer is loud and clear: is the pain of losing love worse than the pain of never having loved at all?

Dividers

Review: After reading a couple books from this author, I realize they’re becoming an auto buy for me. As I’m always looking for new authors to read, I’m looking for fresh story ideas too. This one was everything I was searching for.

The concept of this story is amazing. Mitch is a grim reaper. He collects the souls of those who have just died, and makes sure they get to where they’re going in the afterlife. I loved the author’s take on the grim reaper mythology. Instead of just one, there are thousands all over the world, kind of like a police force for souls. They get their assignments via email, where and when it’ll happen, and off they go. And then we have Nate, the new guy in town looking to start fresh after a devastating tragedy that has turned his life upside down. Life and death are about to get very interesting for these two gentlemen.

I loved getting both Mitch and Nate’s perspectives throughout the entire story. We see Mitch struggling with his pre-ordained destiny, and the realization that he may have to live his long life alone because of what he is, which has him resenting everything about it. Nate, still reeling from the death of his twin sister, is trying to move on with his life and make it on his own. I adored both of these characters. Any story that involves grim reapers is bound to be a little gory—there’s a lot of death and sadness—but with these two, their comic relief and off color humor made it a little lighter.

I really liked getting the visual and insight of what happens after Mitch collects the souls of the recently departed. It was fascinating to me. I just have a picture in my head of human balloons trailing behind him—kinda funny and sad all at the same time. The author’s mad writing skills definitely shine through.

I’m really trying not to give away spoilers here. I’ve seen some reviews that just blurt out everything about the story. To me that’s just wrong. The only thing I’ll say here, without giving it all away, is this: souls linger when they have unfinished business to attend to. Mitch notices a tagalong soul with Nate. This leads Mitch into thinking Nate is a fellow reaper. When the truth comes to light, it’s at times funny and endearing, but also sad and heartbreaking. But like I said before, there is a lot of humor throughout the book. It definitely balances out the death and sadness, so kudos to the author for bringing some light to the darkness.

I can’t go any further without mentioning one particular secondary character. He really made the story and without him, something would have been missing—Mitch’s father Charles. I really enjoyed his conversations with his son. Without saying the words, the respect Mitch has for his father just oozed off the page. I loved seeing that. He was full of experience and enlightened us with the backstory of how his family and others came to be reapers. For me, he was truly a memorable character.

Have I mentioned that I read this book in one sitting? Well, I did. And yes, it was that good. But let me tell you something. I’ve never had so many emotions going in so many directions at the end of a book like I did with this one. During the course of reading, I watched these two characters struggle and overcome so many obstacles. At this point, I am so invested in what happens to them that I’m on the edge of my seat. Just when you think it’s going to end one way, it loops back around and ends totally different. I literally felt like I was beat up after I read the ending. For those who like a happily ever after—oh, you definitely get one. But be prepared to go on a heart flopping ride before you get there, and it’s oh-so worth it.

What I loved most about this book was the originality of the storyline. I really enjoyed the author’s take on heaven and hell, soul collecting, and what maybe happens after death. I hadn’t read anything like this before, so to me, it was fresh, new and exciting to read. The author’s writing, as always, is smooth and seamless.

I really can’t say enough about how much I loved this book. I consider it a must read. If not for the storyline, then for those two adorable characters. Highly recommended.

TNA_Signature_Lynn

 

 

 

 

You can buy Reaping Havoc here:

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4 Stars, DSP Publications, Lissa Kasey, Paranormal, Reviewed by Sammy, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: Evolution: Genesis by Lissa Kasey

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Amazon

Title: Evolution: Genesis (Evolution: Book Two)

Author: Lissa Kasey

Publisher: DSP Publications

Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages

At a Glance: Genesis is an interesting, if somewhat tangled, read for paranormal fans.

Reviewed By: Sammy

Blurb: Evolution made music history when one bandmate turned vampire and another joined the vampire hate movement Preservation Group. Gene is trying to cling to the music as his relationship with Kerstrande begins to spiral into the darkness of hidden demons. Jaded by his years as a vampire flunkie, Kerstrande uses his newly won power over New York City to destroy his enemies and protect Gene. But a demon called a Fallen begins to take control of KC, slowly devouring his soul and through him the entire city. Battling against the evil that wants to destroy him, Kerstrande fights to hold onto Gene’s brightness.

A power unlike any other grows within Gene and shines like a beacon to the demons surrounding him. Realizing that only he can save his lover, Gene is willing to do anything to shake the darkness loose. Even if it means reshaping the future, the band, and his own existence.

Dividers

Review: I was thrilled to see a sequel to the riveting novel Evolution by author Lissa Kasey. With book two, Genesis, two of the most exciting characters in the paranormal genre are back, center stage, and sparks fly once more—and by sparks I mean an all consuming fire, which is exactly what Gene is currently dealing with at the story’s beginning. I cannot state more clearly than this that you must read this series in order to appreciate all the nuances and relationships that are further developed in book two. If you have not, then please stop reading this review and go read Evolution, for I will be remarking upon some of the themes and incidences from the first book to set the stage for book two.

At the opening of Genesis, Gene is still grappling with the fact that he is a human hybrid in the form of a phoenix. Those who know their mythology will remember that the phoenix never really dies but instead is reborn from flames—dying when engulfed from inner fire—and that is exactly what Gene had discovered he could do when he took down Hane—the maker of Kerestrande (KC), Gene’s vampire, again/off again lover—in the first novel. But remember vampires cannot be fully destroyed by flames—instead, they must incinerate by being exposed to sunlight, which burns them to ash never to rise again. This is exactly what KC does to Hane, and when he does so, the dark shadow—the fallen that clung to Hane—consumes KC and begins to slowly take him over.

Meanwhile, every bad guy and paranormal on the earth seems to be after Gene as a means to get to KC. Consequently, Gene undergoes several horrific deaths only to be reborn again each time. However, Gene is weakening, and coming back to human form takes longer and longer each time. Instead, he is trapped in darkness where he can clearly see what is eating at KC, and all the undead that cling to his lover as well. In the end, it will be up to Gene to save his vampire lover from certain death, as the Fallen within KC pushes its way into his soul and consumes that which is KC at his very core, taking him over completely.

Okay. That was a major oversimplification of a very intricate plot that I must admit I lost my way in at certain points in this novel. Not only were there additional characters to learn about, there were also so many creatures after Gene that it was hard at times to keep up with who was after whom, and why. Still, the bones of this story were really solid and KC and Gene, when they were together, were pure gold in terms of an “it’s complicated” relationship. Every time KC pushed Gene away, Gene’s pain and dejection was so poignant to read—really just heartbreaking. And this author was so smart in that she alternated the point of view almost chapter to chapter so we were privy as to why KC was sending Gene away. Plus, we saw just how it guts the vampire when he does so.

Alongside these two was a cast of secondary characters that were convincingly real, and each became an integral part of Gene’s life—some with deadly and evil intent. Without them, Gene would have never been able to survive all that he does at the hands of evil forces determined to use Gene as bait to draw out KC and the shadowy evil that holds him captive.

So why wasn’t this a five star read? Well, when it came down to it, this story got very involved with the mystical side of both vampires and Gene himself—this phoenix hybrid. In doing so, I honestly was often confused as to where this whole plot was moving and just exactly why Gene kept getting…well, brutally beaten and killed, only to rise again. I felt that the plot was sometimes unanchored and drifted too far into mystical realms that were not always fully realized or fleshed out in the story. That made for some real frustration when I just wanted this story to “get on with it” and come to some conclusion I could understand.

As a result of all this action without a solid plot theme to plant itself on, the ending seemed way too easy and a bit rushed. The final outcome was nice, but after all the angst and miscommunication between KC and Gene, a sweet happy-ever-after seemed just a bit contrived. Still, this is an author whom I really admire and whose writing is often involved and well executed, therefore I would encourage fans of the first in this series to see how things play out between Gene and KC. Genesis is an interesting, if somewhat tangled, read for paranormal fans.

TNA_Signature_Sammy

 

 

 

 

You can buy Evolution: Genesis here:

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5 Stars, Audio Book, DSP Publications, Narration Rating - 5 Stars, Reviewed by Sammy, Rhys Ford, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Audio Review: Black Dog Blues by Rhys Ford – Narrated by Greg Tremblay

Audio Gem

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Amazon

Title: Black Dog Blues (The Kai Gracen Series: Book One)

Author: Rhys Ford

Narrator: Greg Tremblay

Publisher: DSP Publications

Run Time: 8 hours and 50 minutes

At a Glance: The audio version of this novel was well done and hooked me immediately, drenching me in the mood and pathos of the story.

Reviewed By: Sammy

Blurb: Ever since being part of the pot in a high-stakes poker game, elfin outcast Kai Gracen figures he used up his good karma when Dempsey, a human Stalker, won the hand and took him in.

Following the violent merge of Earth and Underhill, the human and elfin races are left with a messy, monster-ridden world, and Stalkers are the only cavalry willing to ride to someone’s rescue when something shadowy appears.

It’s a hard life but one Kai likes—filled with bounty, a few friends, and most importantly, no other elfin around to remind him of his past. And killing monsters is easy. Especially since he’s one himself.

But when a sidhe lord named Ryder arrives in San Diego, Kai is conscripted to do a job for Ryder’s fledgling Dawn Court. It’s supposed to be a simple run up the coast during dragon-mating season to retrieve a pregnant human woman seeking sanctuary. Easy, quick, and best of all, profitable. But Kai ends up in the middle of a deadly bloodline feud he has no hope of escaping.

No one ever got rich being a Stalker. But then few of them got old either and it doesn’t look like Kai will be the exception.

Dividers

Review: If you are approaching Rhys Ford’s novel Black Dog Blues looking for a traditional romance or even a sci-fi classic, think again. This is no typical anything. Instead, author Rhys Ford creates a world that has both human and fey, magic and monsters and everything in between, and places them inside a story that is so rich in character and long in plot that you are nearly breathless by novel’s end.

The main story centers on the Sidhe and Unsidhe—those who are elfin and those who are…something evil altogether. They coexist next to humans and multiple creatures of every species, from dragons to the elfin shadow dogs and many other mutant forms of different species. In this new society there are stalkers—those who go hunting our worst nightmares and deliver their hides for payment. One such stalker is the mysterious Kai Gracen, a young elfin who has been humanized to the point of virtually becoming a loner, neither cohabitating with his own kind nor humans. Kai was raised by Dempsey, a stalker who won him in a poker game. At that time, Kai was barely recognizable as any kind of boy, more animal than human or elfin. As this story evolves we come to find out about his past and are mystified as to how Kai not only managed to survive the horrors of his former life but rise above them to be the compassionate man he has become.

He is commissioned to retrieve a pregnant human from the chief city of the sidhe (the good elves, in essence). Accompanying him will be the prince of that dynasty who has come to Kai’s neck of the words to establish a “dawn court” for the disenfranchised sidhe who live in the city. This mission will challenge Kai in many ways and unlock the mystery of who he is and just what stalks his own nightmares. He will be confronted by the horrors of his past and feel himself slipping into love with a man who wields much power for good. The question remains, though, will Kai survive this mission intact, and can he really love another person—especially when he is unsure that love can ever really be his at all.

The brief and admittedly shallow synopsis above touches only the bones of this story. There is one mystery after another in this novel, and Rhys Ford unravels each one, even while intertwining them into the most intricate of plots I have ever read. However, by virtue of her excellent storytelling abilities, I was never lost in the weaving of this tale. Kai is a conundrum whose story just begins in this novel. While he is on every page, his past is slowly and carefully alluded to over and over, with the startling revelation of who and what he is being revealed finally near the end of the novel. Even then, you know there is a wealth of background information just waiting to surface, which becomes the springboard for future novels about this brave young elf.

Speaking of elves—these are not your waif-like forest creatures. No, this author not only makes her elf-kind cunning and smart but strong and determined as well. I was so impressed by the way that the supernatural creatures in this story were three-dimensional and fully fleshed out. The result was that I cared for them, was drawn into their story and captured by their troubles. The story itself was captivating, with so many twists and turns that I found myself trying to solve the many mysteries and was delightfully surprised when the answers turned out to be ones that I would have never thought of in a million years.

Greg Tremblay did a great job with Kai’s sarcasm—that weary ennui that the character wears like a mantle. The variation of voices was quite good—including Dempsey’s lilting brogue that was so reminiscent of those turn of the century New York City Irish cops. Every once in a while Mr. Tremblay would allow the brogue to bleed into the beginning of another character or the narration but overall, the delineation between voices and their cadence was spot on. The narrator’s gravelly tones really added to the gritty feel of the novel as well. Quite frankly, his pitch, speed of delivery and variation in voices enriched the overall mood of the story. Black Dog Blues is a dark tale and the narrator’s approach added to the mysterious feel to this story.

All in all, Black Dog Blues was a compelling mystery with a touch of romance and excellent supernatural shadings thrown in. The audio version of this novel was well done and hooked me immediately, drenching me in the mood and pathos of the story. I enjoyed this narrator immensely and would highly recommend this audiobook.

TNA_Signature_Sammy

 

 

 

 

You can buy Black Dog Blues here:

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4.5 Stars, Ally Blue, Reviewed by Kim, Samhain Publishing, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: Myth Adventures by Ally Blue

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Title: Myth Adventures (Mojo Mysteries: Book Three)

Author: Ally Blue

Publisher: Samhain Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 192 Pages

At a Glance: Ally Blue knows how to throw in just the right amount of spooky angst to keep me motivated to turn pages.

Reviewed By: Kim

Blurb: Something evil is going down in Atlanta…

Adrian Broussard and Greg Woodhall are attending OutlantaCon, Atlanta’s annual gay geek conference, and are looking forward to a weekend of cosplay and general nerdy fun. As they mingle with other conference goers, though, Adrian feels a strange, cold energy emanating from a man dressed as a satyr.

Encounters with storybook creatures roaming the streets only increase the chilly tendrils teasing Adrian’s sixth sense—strong enough to cause disturbing visions of Greg’s existence being erased.

When a girl at the conference goes missing, then turns up dead, clues literally drop in their laps as Adrian begins to fear the cold, alien energy is engulfing the whole city. And in danger of swallowing up his lover.

To Adrian’s horror, his worst nightmare is realized. Now both he and Greg must call on reserves of strength and resourcefulness they never knew they possessed to save Atlanta, and each other.

Dividers

Review: Ally Blue is one of the first M/M authors I ever read, and she lured me into the world of M/M romance. She knows how to throw in just the right amount of spooky angst to keep me motivated to turn pages and see what’s going to happen next in her stories. And, ever since I read Oleander House, I’ve been hooked on the Bay City Paranormal Investigation series. Now its spinoff, the Mojo Mysteries series, has me hooked too, and so far, I think Myth Adventures is the best of the Mojo books.

I was immediately drawn into the storyline when Adrian saw the satyr and sensed that something was off. When Greg disappeared, like their friends, it especially piqued my interest—to the point I had to restrain myself from rushing through the pages. The portals have returned with a vengeance! And I like the fact that Adrian and Greg’s relationship is so solid throughout the story.

My only problem with Myth Adventures was that I was left guessing what happened to a couple of the characters, though I can kind of guess, but still, I wanted to know! Maybe I’ll find out for sure what happened to them in the next adventure.

TNA_Signature_Kim

 

 

 

You can buy Myth Adventures here:

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Giveaways, Ingela Bohm

Guest Post and Giveaway: Last Communion by Ingela Bohm

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We’re so pleased to welcome author Ingela Bohm to The Novel Approach on the tour for her new novel Last Communion. Enjoy Ingela’s guest post, then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below to enter for the chance to win an e-copy of the book.

Good luck!

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Rhythm Is a Writer

I tried to turn his head, but was stuck. The metal is pressed so hard against my aching teeth that I finally need clearing them. Lightning quick drove mom in stages so far that it bumped against the palate.

“What are you doing?”

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What are you doing, indeed…

Ever considered using a translation engine to churn out a book in another language? Think again. The above is an example of what can happen. The original is a perfectly ordinary paragraph in Swedish, but once it’s been through the grinder, it’s basically gibberish.

Why is this? Why can’t I feed a Swedish novel into a translation engine and have it spit out an English version at a moment’s notice?

Because a text always needs the human touch. Language isn’t a rational system of words that correspond neatly to words in other languages. There are nuances that make the word ‘wet’ different from the Swedish ‘våt’ – even the two English synonyms ‘wet’ and ‘soaking’ don’t mean exactly the same thing.

Other times, one word can mean two things, and the translation engine has no idea which one to pick. For example, consider the word ‘stages’ above. Taken out of context, it’s a correct translation. But the Swedish word for ‘stages’ also means ‘the spoon.’ To decide which word is appropriate, you need to understand the whole passage.

Also, there are grammatical differences between languages, such that in English, you need to specify whose head is turning – as in ‘I tried to turn my head.’ In Swedish, you can say ‘I tried to turn the head,’ and everyone still knows that it’s my own head I’m turning (unless we’re talking about some kind of horror story). But faced with a phrase like ‘I tried to turn the head,’ a translation engine just makes a wild guess about whose head is turning. This can result in men suddenly becoming women, or people turning other people’s heads – and not in a good way.

But quite apart from all these technical differences, there are also issues like the author’s voice, the tone of the text, and the appropriate use of metaphor. A computer can’t convey mood like a human can. Also, if I use local phenomena to add color, it may be meaningless to someone from another country. For example, ‘it tasted like cloudberries.’ Does that give you an instant feel for what I mean? No? Unless you’ve eaten cloudberries and know their peculiar, swampy taste, that simile is worthless. In such cases, I may want to change it into something more culturally appropriate.

Last Communion was first written in Swedish, and when I embarked on the journey of translating it, I had no idea how long it would take. I knew that it would require a lot of hard work, but not that it would take six months rather than a couple of weeks. I actually tried sending it through a translation engine, just to see if it could give me a useful template to start with, but of course it couldn’t. Most of the text turned out so weird that I didn’t even understand what it meant any longer – even though I was the one who had written it.

In the end, I rewrote the whole thing from scratch, because it was easier that way. Above all, it helped me find an appropriate rhythm. One of my role models once said that writing song lyrics is a lot like creating drum parts, and it stayed with me because I really agree. Sometimes you may have to cut or add words in a sentence, purely for the sake of the rhythm. I often see advice about deleting adjectives and adverbs, but sometimes they need to be added, too. A text is like music. Sometimes it’s not so much about the meaning, but about the ebb and flow of syllables.

While trying to find the right rhythm for Last Communion, I listened to the same album over and over again – Termination Bliss by Deathstars. It’s what I like to call “hum-along death music” (sounds better in Swedish, I promise…). On the surface, it’s harsh and heavy, but the melodies are nothing short of sweet. It was the perfect accompaniment to a romance that was played out against a backdrop of death and decay.

In contrast, when I edited the story, I couldn’t listen to music at all. At that stage, I wanted to feel the text swell and surge like a symphony, and I couldn’t have someone else’s rhythm distracting me. I had to listen to the words on the page, and for that, I needed absolute silence.

And yet even now, a year after I finished the first draft, I still hear my story in the Deathstars’ music. I can’t listen to those songs without seeing my nameless hero, hanging from a platform above a giant turbine, holding on for dear life. It’s part of the music, like a drumbeat at the back of my mind.

The music of the vampires.

The steady pulse of blood.

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Last CommunionBlurb: A worldwide disease has all but wiped out humankind. Only a few people survive, the doctor’s son among them. But there’s something wrong with him: he no longer wants to eat. Is he finally dying too?

The answer is as unexpected as it is horrible: one night, he discovers a new hunger – a mindless craving for blood. Horrified at himself, he flees into the night, but when he tries to find sanctuary, he almost ends up killed. Just as he starts to realize that even a predator can become prey, he runs into Garangjas – another man who drinks blood. Irresistibly drawn, he follows Garangjas to his flock of ‘Confirmands,’ a weird group of people who might just be his ticket to survival.

There’s just one problem: how can the Confirmands stay alive if the rest of humanity dies out?

Buy Links: Amazon || Barnes & Noble || iBooks || Smashwords || All Romance eBooks

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Ingela BohmAbout the Author: Ingela Bohm lives in an old cinema, tucked away in a northern Swedish forest where she can wander around all day long and dictate her books. She used to dream of being an actor until an actual actor asked, “Do you really need to do it?” That’s when she realized that the only thing she really needed to do was to write. She has since pretended to be a dietician, a teacher, a receptionist and a cook, but only to conceal her real identity.

Her first imaginary friend was called Grabolina and lived in her closet. Nowadays she has too many imaginary friends to count, but at least some of them are out of the closet. Her men may not be conventionally handsome, but they can charm your pants off, and that’s all that matters. Recent works include the twisted online love thriller #Not Safe For Work, Shakespeare/Marlowe litslash Rival Poet and the third instalment about seventies rock band Pax Cymrica.

Ingela’s more useless talents include reading tarot cards, killing pot plants and drawing scandalous pictures that no one gets to see. Her favorite tool is the crowbar. She can’t walk in heels and she’s stopped trying, but she has cycled 1200 miles in the UK and knows which campsites to avoid if you don’t like spiders. If you see her on the train you will wonder what age she is.

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THE GIVEAWAY

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4 Stars, N.R. Walker, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Sadonna, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Self-Published

Book Blast Review and Giveaway: Cronin’s Key III by N.R. Walker

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Title: Cronin’s Key III

Author: N.R. Walker

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 193 Pages

At a Glance: Another gripping and wild ride for Alec, Cronin and their friends that has them hopping around the globe to once again save the world from the creatures that go bump in the night. :)

Reviewed By: Sadonna

Blurb: History isn’t always what it seems…

Twelve months after his change, Alec MacAidan is still getting used to his many vampire talents. While most vampires would give anything to have more than one supernatural power, Alec craves nothing more than peace and time alone with Cronin. But when Alec meets entities from outside this realm, he’s left powerless in their presence.

Zoan are half-lycan, half-dragon creatures that have slipped through time and reality, seemingly undetected by man and vampire. Or have they? They bear an uncanny resemblance to gargoyles, leaving Alec’s view on all things weird to get a whole lot weirder.

This new quest leads Alec, Cronin, and their band of friends to Paris, Rome, and Moscow, where they learn that gargoyles aren’t simply statues on walls. In the underground pits beneath churches all over the world, Alec discovers the Key’s true destiny. Facing the Zoan might take every talent he has. And he may need help from the dead to get them all out alive.

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Note: This is the third book in a series, and, as such, pretty much the whole book is spoilers for the previous installments. Not recommended to read these out of order.

Review: This story begins about a year after the events of Cronin’s Key II, and Alec, now the most powerful vampire ever in existence, is still trying to come to terms with all of his amazing powers that seem to manifest themselves. While cataloguing his many talents is getting pretty tedious, he understands the need to do so. He just wishes he could have some peace and quiet and more time on his own with Cronin – which he manages every once in a while. :) Everything seems to be going smoothly – until it isn’t.

In the midst of his own home, Alec is suddenly visited by 5 creatures who call themselves Zoan. But they are able to stop time, and no one besides Alec can see them because they are also frozen in time. This is very disconcerting for everyone, especially Cronin, because he perceives this as a great danger to Alec, particularly when the Zoan declare Alec to be their enemy.

Alec now has many gifts that come in handy – especially since he seems to be the only one who is able to see the Zoan when they stop time. But, by projecting what he sees to his friends, they are better able to help him formulate a plan to try to discover what and who the Zoan are, and, perhaps, how to stop them.

As usual, we have globe-hopping vampires who visit a number of historical places that may or may not have meaning and importance to the appearance of the Zoan. We hit Paris and Rome and Moscow, and my favorite place, Turkey! Turns out there are a lot of magical places on earth covered up by other things so that most of the humans are unaware of the deeper levels. And these levels seem to be portals that allow these creatures to emerge.

We also get a lot of mythology/history explained as remnants of old stories that are based in the earlier encounters with these monsters. They have wreaked havoc before and are back to somehow use Alec to claim a final victory. But our intrepid friends have a devil of a time trying to figure out how and why and where this will take place. Luckily, with his merry band of vampire friends – as well as some new friends – Alec and company race to the final confrontation with the Zoan, in a battle for control that is not to be missed.

I have to say that I for one am sad to see this series end, and I’m hoping we at least get some little visits along the way with Alec and Cronin – and their friends – because they are a great couple and I will miss them. The way the author has woven history and mythology together throughout the series, along with creating such an interesting cast of characters in these vampires (with a couple of humans thrown in), it has been really fascinating. I still think these would make great movies, with Alex O’Loughlin playing Alec. :)

Once again, well done and highly recommended for a guaranteed great time reading a fun, interesting and exciting story.

 

 

 

You can buy Cronin’s Key III here:

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About the author: N.R. Walker is an Australian author, who loves her genre of gay romance.

She loves writing and spends far too much time doing it, but wouldn’t have it any other way.

She is many things; a mother, a wife, a sister, a writer. She has pretty, pretty boys who live in her head, who don’t let her sleep at night unless she gives them life with words.

She likes it when they do dirty, dirty things…but likes it even more when they fall in love.

She used to think having people in her head talking to her was weird, until one day she happened across other writers who told her it was normal.

She’s been writing ever since…

Where to find the author: Website || Facebook || Facebook Author Page || Facebook Fan Page || Twitter

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A Rafflecopter Giveaway

One e-book from backlist, including Cronin’s Key III

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Tour Dates & Stops:

Parker Williams, Just Love Romance, Divine Magazine, Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents, Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews, My Fiction Nook, LeAnn’s Book Reviews, The Fuzzy, Fluffy World of Chris T. Kat, Full Moon Dreaming, Bayou Book Junkie, MM Good Book Reviews, SA McAuley, The Blogger Girls, V’s Reads, The Jena Wade, BFD Book Blog, Carly’s Book Reviews, Reviews by Jessewave, Nephylim, Inked Rainbow Reads, Jessie G. Books, Iyana Jenna, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Molly Lolly, Foxylutely Book Reviews, Mikky’s World of Books, Amanda C. Stone, Prism Book Alliance, Rainbow Gold Reviews, Sinfully Addicted to All Male Romance, Kimi-chan, Up All Night, Read All Day, Two Chicks Obsessed With Books and Eye Candy, Charley Descoteaux, Multitasking Mommas, Ogitchida Book Blog, The Novel Approach, Vampires, Werewolves, and Fairies, Oh My, Velvet Panic

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The Fine Print:

*Entrants must be 18 years or older to qualify
*No residency restrictions apply
*All comments must be relevant to the author’s prompt to be eligible (when applicable)
*The Novel Approach will not be held liable for prize delivery unless otherwise specified

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3 Stars, Charley Descoteaux, Dreamspinner Press, Paranormal, Reviewed by Sadonna, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: The Pinch of the Game by Charley Descoteaux

Title: The Pinch of the Game

Author: Charley Descoteaux

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 98 Pages

At a Glance: A really interesting, if slightly confusing, paranormal mystery and love story that read like a combination road trip/hot pursuit/screwball comedy.

Reviewed By: Sadonna

Blurb: Being a witch doesn’t mean one can beat the devil forever.

Jeffrey Overton, unemployed IT professional turned poker player, pushes his luck once too often and runs afoul of the host of an illegal card club. The man sent to escort Jeffrey to a “meeting” about his supernatural winning streak arrives at Jeffrey’s crappy North Portland apartment, lock-picking tools in hand and a charm to block Jeffrey’s magick.

Head muscle for said host, Mike Wells, is a Daisy from Daisyville. He isn’t a witch. What he lacks in magickal talent he makes up for in brawn, so he doesn’t expect the guy he’s after to overpower him. But once Mike renders Jeffrey helpless, he’d rather seduce him than bring him in.

Jeffrey and Michael ditch the “meeting” and end up hunting some of the same people they ran from, trying to get Jeffrey back into his own body. And that’s only part of the adventure. The pair travel halfway across the country on the quietest road trip in history and find missing people, empire-building witches, and maybe even the families they’d both thought lost to them

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Review: This is a different story than the other stories I have read by this author, in that it’s really a paranormal mystery/romance. It’s kind of a combination road trip/one long chase scene/screwball comedy in some ways.

Jeffrey has gotten himself in trouble by using his magic to win at cards. The house does not like this and sends the muscle to bring him in. But, the muscle, Mike, flips all of Jeffrey’s switches, and he’d really rather spend time with Mike than anything else. When they end up on the run together, Jeffrey makes a terrible miscalculation that poses great risk to both himself and Mike.

While on the run and trying to figure out just how to fix the terrible situation they find themselves in, Jeff and Mike end up hiding out temporarily with Mike’s family. There is also the little issue of Jeffrey’s missing mother, more muscle on their tails, and a possible double-cross.

The chase leads halfway across the country, from the home ground of Portland, and draws a bunch of other bad guys (and bad magic) along with them. They aren’t sure who to trust, who is after them, or who is really calling the shots. There are a lot of near misses and some big surprises. Overall, things got a lot more confusing before they became very clear.
I really enjoyed this story, but I wish it had been longer, with additional blanks filled in. The relationship between Mike and Jeffrey is really the heart of the story, and their interaction and dialogue is always energetic. But, at times, I felt like I was missing a couple of chapters here and there. I don’t like a big info dump, but I did feel confused when various characters just “dropped in” to the action, and there wasn’t enough detail for me to figure out what they were doing there, or who they were tied to, or what their part of the game was. It was kind of like walking into a movie 15 minute after it started, where the action that occurs that kicks off the whole movie has taken place and you’ve missed it. I felt like I eventually caught up, but at times the ride wasn’t smooth.

I have enjoyed Charley Descoteaux’s writing in the past, so I welcomed the opportunity to read another longer story. I feel like the author has a unique voice and perspective, and also bases a lot of the stories in my favorite US city, Portland, Oreg0n. Overall, I’d recommend for those who enjoy a good mystery with some romance and magic on the side.

 

 

 

You can buy Pinch of the Game here:

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5 Stars, Andrea Speed, Astrid Amara, Charlie Cochet, Ginn Hale, Jordan Castillo Price, Jordan L. Hawk, KJ Charles, Lou Harper, Nicole Kimberling, Reviewed by Lisa, Rhys Ford, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Self-Published

Review: Charmed and Dangerous: Ten Tales of Gay Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy – Edited by Jordan Castillo Price

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Title: Charmed and Dangerous: Ten Tales of Gay Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy

Authors: Rhys Ford, Ginn Hale, KJ Charles, Nicole Kimberling, Jordan L. Hawk, Charlie Cochet, Jordan Castillo Price, Andrea Speed, Lou Harper, Astrid Amara

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 509 Pages

At a Glance: With a lineup like this, how could this anthology have possibly gone amiss?

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: Magic takes many forms. From malignant hexes to love charms gone amok, you’ll find a vast array of spells and curses, creatures and conjurings in this massive collection—not to mention a steamy dose of man-on-man action. Charmed and Dangerous features all-new stories of gay paranormal romance, supernatural fiction and urban fantasy by ten top m/m paranormal authors.

Rhys Ford – Dim Sum Asylum
For Detective Roku MacCormick, working Arcane Crimes is his passion. Now cleared of any wrongdoing for shooting his last partner, MacCormick is given back his badge… as well as a new case and partner. Trent Leonard isn’t exactly what he’d expected, but then nothing in San Francisco’s Chinatown ever is.

Ginn Hale – Swift and the Black Dog
When Jack Swift killed a tyrant and won the revolution he became a national hero. But someone in the new government prefers dead heroes to living, swearing, cynical wizards. Caught between bullets, revenge and desire, Jack had better be swift indeed.

KJ Charles – A Queer Trade
Apprentice magician Crispin Tredarloe returns to London to find his master dead, and his papers sold. Papers with secrets that could spell death. Waste paper seller Ned Hall can’t resist Crispin’s pleading—and appealing—looks. But can the wasteman and the magician prevent a disaster and save Crispin’s skin?

Nicole Kimberling – Magically Delicious
Occult attacks against NIAD agents aren’t remotely Keith Curry’s department. But when his lover, Gunther, is assaulted, Keith refuses to just sit back and fill out paperwork. He’s on the case—even if that means enraging powerful mages, crossing leprechaun picket lines, or braving dinner with Gunther’s goblin parents.

Jordan Castillo Price – Everyone’s Afraid of Clowns
Psychic medium Victor Bayne can spot a ghost any day of the year, but Halloween holds some special surprises. His psych-groupie boyfriend Jacob coaxes him to the location of an old spirit sighting, but they can’t ghosthunt without enduring a cheesy “haunted house” that’s even more disturbing than they realize.

Jordan L. Hawk – The Thirteenth Hex
Hexman Dominic Kopecky doesn’t understand why dashing crow familiar Rook wants his help investigating murder by patent hex. For one thing, Dominic isn’t a witch. For another, the case is already closed—and someone is willing to kill to keep it that way.

Charlie Cochet – The Soldati Prince
Riley Murrough goes from serving lattes to being chased by demons. If that wasn’t bad enough, he bears the mark of a shapeshifter king from a magical realm. Riley’s determined to get answers, but if the demons out for his blood don’t kill him, the urge to strangle the arrogant king might.

Lou Harper – One Hex Too Many
Veteran detective Mike Mulligan is an expert on violent crimes—of the occult variety. He might even be cursed. Detective Hugh Fox is eager to partner up and prove himself, but Mulligan is accustomed to flying solo. Can they trust each other enough to track a killer who’ll stop at nothing, not even summoning a demon?

Andrea Speed – Josh of the Damned vs. the Bathroom of Doom
It’s a boring night at the Quik-Mart for Josh and his friend Doug. Until a vampire with a grudge—and the most adorable backup ever—crashes the store. Can Josh survive the Bathroom of Doom?

Astrid Amara – The Trouble With Hexes
P.I. Tim Keller has a problem. And the only person who can solve it is his ex-boyfriend, Vincent, whose job as a hexbreaker was the reason they broke up. It’s hard admitting he was wrong, especially when coughing up organs. But there’s a missing person to find, a hexmaker to hunt down, and a romance to repair before Tim breathes his last.

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Review: If you’ve looked at this lineup of authors and thought to yourself that there’s no possible way this anthology could fail…you’d be absolutely right. For fans of speculative fiction, Charmed and Dangerous is a collection of wild wonderment that’s been long overdue. This company of ten of the genre’s consummate storytellers dug into their depthless cache of talent to ensure each of these tales lived up to the challenge presented to them: to create new worlds, to introduce both new and familiar characters within the allotted word count, and to do so without sacrificing a single iota of detail, imagination, or compromising the quality of each tale.

Mission: Accomplished

For me to give you a thorough rundown of every story in this omnibus would take more words than I’m positive you’re willing to read from me, so I’m not going to try. There are enough adjectives of a superlative nature in the English language that I can heap on this collection, and upon the heads of its authors, which could, and does, apply to every story in Charmed and Dangerous. Magical and mysterious, clever and charming, witty and wonderful, each of these stories is filled with curses and hexes and creatures of the mythical and metaphysical sort, and, in turn, the authors have given their characters the outlet to explore each of their worlds: where the impossible is made reality, where these men form a bond against a backdrop of danger, action, suspense, humor, dark and deadly magicks, and are given second chances at love.

Nine of these ten tales share a more common thread in their magic, while Charlie Cochet’s The Soldati Prince (what I feel is the most romance-centric of the collection) is a heartfelt and touching shifter fantasy that adheres to the mate bond theme inherent to that sub-genre. A theme it does share with several other of the stories, however, is sacrifice in the name of love. And may have made me a little teary eyed before its end.

From Rhys Ford’s mayhem-laden, humorous and action packed turn at a sex-cursed statue in an Alt U San Francisco Chinatown (which could have come only from the delectably madcap and marvelous mind of this author); to the post-revolutionary dystopian brilliance that is the genius Ginn Hale’s story of betrayal and salvation, Jack Swift and the Black Dog; to the always marvelous KJ Charles’ foray into hex magic and treachery and the promise of a new love (plus, that first line hooked me!); to the hyper-imaginative Nicole Kimberling’s extra-appropriately titled Magically Delicious, and its Lewis Carroll/Midsummer Night’s Dream world filled with leprechauns, mermaid-flesh dealers, goblins, and a deadly pixie dust mystery; to the extraordinarily talented Jordan Castillo Price and my beloved Victor Bayne and Jacob Marks, and a ghost clown all wrapped up inside a misogynist meninist’s wet dream; to the eloquent and fabulous Jordan L. Hawk’s perfect The Thirteenth Hex, a story for which I’m already begging a sequel because these characters and this world are oozing with everything that makes reading a magic unto itself; to the flawless Lou Harper’s unparalleled and all-consuming mystery One Hex too Many–the story that kept me on the hook from start to finish in not only its imaginative world building but in my love of its detectives Mulligan, Fox and Leslie; to the never to be outdone Andrea Speed’s oddball-in-only-the-best-way, strange-things-are-afoot-at-the-Quik-Mart, Josh of the Damned world where anything goes, from vamps to werewolves to zombies to human-sized lizards to giant animate mustaches…well, you get the picture; to the excellent The Trouble With Hexes, Astrid Amara’s beautiful close to the anthology, a story that’s dark magic and pure emotion and encompasses what it means to make the ultimate sacrifice for the one you love—these stories, each and every one of them, deliver a reading experience that’s meant to be devoured and savored all at once.

Whether you’ve only read one of these authors before, or, like me, you’ve read all ten, Charmed and Dangerous is a spec fic lover’s Wonderland… Or whatever it is you call that place we go during those not-quite-aware-of-reality moments when we lose ourselves in a great book.

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You can buy Charmed and Dangerous here:

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Rhys Ford

Guest Post and Giveaway: The Charmed and Dangerous Blog Tour with Rhys Ford

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Today we’re pleased to welcome author Rhys Ford back to chat about Dim Sum Asylum, her contribution to the upcoming anthology Charmed and Dangerous, featuring some of the premiere spec fic authors in the genre. Enjoy Rhy’s post, then be sure to leave a comment right here for the chance to win a $25 Gift Card to the e-tailer of the winner’s choice.

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Good luck!

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Charmed and Dangerous

A lot of us feel like we’re the left side of weird.

To be honest, many of us are and there we find ourselves, one another actually, standing on the left side of weird and thinking; you know this would be a good place to set up camp.

That’s kind of what it feels like to be a writer amongst writers. And sometimes, if you’re very lucky, you get invited to some really cool places to camp and some fantastic people to share a fire with. Marshmallows! S’Mores! Crazy insects out for your blood! But still, a universe of stars not only above you but around you.

When Jordan Castillo Price asked if I’d be in an anthology she was heading up, I said sure, mostly because I figured if JCP wants something, you give it to her. Kinda like a genre Wookie. Not because she’s gonna rip your arm off but mostly because let’s face it, Wookies are kind of cool.

She did NOT tell me who else was going to be on the docket. And I will admit—and have often admitted—that when she put out the list, I took a mental paper bag and huffed into it a few times because damn the line up. Shit hell, what have I gotten myself into? Said my little brain. Because one does not simply walk into this anthology and not have a really damned nice ring to toss into the lava.

Charmed and Dangerous was born. A vast land of possibilities and oh-my-god moments just waiting to happen. And we were off.

I’ve read all the other authors. And marveled at them. And fretted. Really, so much of writing is fretting.

Look at this lineup and say, sure… no worries, I can hang.

Astrid Amara, KJ Charles, Charlie Cochet, Ginn Hale, Lou Harper, Jordan L. Hawk, Nicole Kimberling, Jordan Castillo Price, Andrea Speed

Hah. I fret.

Then well, deadlines looming, I began to write. So did the others. Suffice it to say we all kind of blew past our 8,000 word mark. When it was all said and done, the anthology sat at over 100,000 words and oh the stories… damn the stories.

See, usually writing is a loner sport. Kind of like cross-country running. I think. I wouldn’t know. I grew up in a place where there wasn’t a lot of cross-country anything. You quickly run out of island after a bit. But still, writing…loner sport. It is. Even if you’re writing with someone, you’re kind of struggling to form words and ideas out of nothing and then passing that on for other people to see, hoping that you’ve hit the mark.

Guess it’s more like archery than running. But definitely as exhausting as running.

When we got the ARCs to look over our stories, I had the chance to read through the anthology as a whole and was humbled by the mastery of word and story from the other authors. Everyone talks about bringing an A-game to an anthology and in this case, it was more of everyone delivering proto-lingual skills because I truly believe this is one of the most innovative, fantastically crafted anthologies I’ve ever had a chance to read.

I am still shocked to be a part of it.

And very thankful.

Mostly thankful. So with much gratitude to Jordan Castillo Price, I extend my heartfelt thanks for including me. It was great to write a story and be included in Charmed and Dangerous. We were all given room to stretch our weirdness and found we could fly. So thank you for that too.

Charmed and Dangerous drops on Aug 25, 2015. I hope you grab it because I think it’s a buffet of tasty tasty words cooked up into the most delicious of dishes. Served up, of course, just on the left side of weird.

Purchase Charmed and Dangerous at Amazon.com

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charmed-cover-200Ten Tales of Gay Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy

Take a cauldron full of magic, add a pinch of humor, a dash of snark and a huge dollop of m/m goodness, and what do you get? Charmed and Dangerous: Ten Tales of Gay Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy. This all-new collection is packed with arcane action and intrigue, and every story will whisk you away to a fantastical world where the hero finds his prince and the paranormal investigator always gets his man.

Magic takes many forms. From malignant hexes to love charms gone amok, you’ll find a vast array of spells and curses, creatures and conjurings in this massive collection—not to mention a steamy dose of man-on-man action. Charmed and Dangerous features all-new stories of gay paranormal romance, supernatural fiction and urban fantasy by ten top m/m paranormal authors.

Rhys Ford – Dim Sum Asylum
For Detective Roku MacCormick, working Arcane Crimes is his passion. Now cleared of any wrongdoing for shooting his last partner, MacCormick is given back his badge… as well as a new case and partner. Trent Leonard isn’t exactly what he’d expected, but then nothing in San Francisco’s Chinatown ever is.

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Ginn Hale – Swift and the Black Dog
When Jack Swift killed a tyrant and won the revolution he became a national hero. But someone in the new government prefers dead heroes to living, swearing, cynical wizards. Caught between bullets, revenge and desire, Jack had better be swift indeed.

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KJ Charles – A Queer Trade
Apprentice magician Crispin Tredarloe returns to London to find his master dead, and his papers sold. Papers with secrets that could spell death. Waste paper seller Ned Hall can’t resist Crispin’s pleading—and appealing—looks. But can the wasteman and the magician prevent a disaster and save Crispin’s skin?

Nicole Kimberling – Magically Delicious
Occult attacks against NIAD agents aren’t remotely Keith Curry’s department. But when his lover, Gunther, is assaulted, Keith refuses to just sit back and fill out paperwork. He’s on the case—even if that means enraging powerful mages, crossing leprechaun picket lines, or braving dinner with Gunther’s goblin parents.

Jordan Castillo Price – Everyone’s Afraid of Clowns
Psychic medium Victor Bayne can spot a ghost any day of the year, but Halloween holds some special surprises. His psych-groupie boyfriend Jacob coaxes him to the location of an old spirit sighting, but they can’t ghosthunt without enduring a cheesy “haunted house” that’s even more disturbing than they realize.

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Jordan L. Hawk – The Thirteenth Hex
Hexman Dominic Kopecky doesn’t understand why dashing crow familiar Rook wants his help investigating murder by patent hex. For one thing, Dominic isn’t a witch. For another, the case is already closed—and someone is willing to kill to keep it that way.

Charlie Cochet – The Soldati Prince
Riley Murrough goes from serving lattes to being chased by demons. If that wasn’t bad enough, he bears the mark of a shapeshifter king from a magical realm. Riley’s determined to get answers, but if the demons out for his blood don’t kill him, the urge to strangle the arrogant king might.

Lou Harper – One Hex Too Many
Veteran detective Mike Mulligan is an expert on violent crimes—of the occult variety. He might even be cursed. Detective Hugh Fox is eager to partner up and prove himself, but Mulligan is accustomed to flying solo. Can they trust each other enough to track a killer who’ll stop at nothing, not even summoning a demon?

Andrea Speed – Josh of the Damned vs. the Bathroom of Doom
It’s a boring night at the Quik-Mart for Josh and his friend Doug. Until a vampire with a grudge—and the most adorable backup ever—crashes the store. Can Josh survive the Bathroom of Doom?

Astrid Amara – The Trouble With Hexes
P.I. Tim Keller has a problem. And the only person who can solve it is his ex-boyfriend, Vincent, whose job as a hexbreaker was the reason they broke up. It’s hard admitting he was wrong, especially when coughing up organs. But there’s a missing person to find, a hexmaker to hunt down, and a romance to repair before Tim breathes his last.

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2 Stars, Charlie Richards, Extasy Books, Reviewed by Lana, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: An Unforgettable Bite by Charlie Richards

Title: An Unforgettable Bite (A Loving Nip: Book Three)

Author: Charlie Richards

Publisher: eXtasy Books

Pages/Word Count: 83 Pages

At a Glance: An Unforgettable Bite is a vampire story that left me underwhelmed and a bit disappointed.

Reviewed By: Lana

Blurb: Nathan Hanson is still working through the recent changes to his life. When he walks away from Diana, his long-time girlfriend, he comes out to his father, Owen. To his surprise, he learns that Owen is gay, too. Unfortunately, Diana doesn’t want to move on. When she continues to call him, Nathan changes his phone number. Next, she starts dropping by his work, so he gives her description to his work’s lot security, asking them to keep her out. Nathan even moves into an apartment on the far side of town, near to where his father now lives, but sometimes he still feels like he’s being watched.

When Nathan finally gets up the courage and accompanies a few friends to a gay bar, he just wants to have a little mindless fun to take his mind off his problems…and maybe, finally act on his desires for another man. There, he meets Lexington Paistro, who is handsome, sexy, and into Nathan. He’s also a vampire. Having learned of paranormals when his father bonded with one, it’s not the biting that Nathan fears. It’s the possessiveness. He’s still trying to extricate himself from a woman who thinks she owns him. Will Lexington behave the same way?

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Review: An Unforgettable Bite is a vampire story that left me underwhelmed and a bit disappointed. This wasn’t a horrible story, but it could have been much better.

The plot was the usual vampire storyline: A vampire finds his true mate in a club and proceeds to bite him, thus binding them. His human mate knows about the existence of vamps because he’s part of the paranormal clique. He just got out of a controlling relationship with a woman, and is gun shy, but wants to explore his feelings for men. They meet in the club, sparks fly, pants come off, and the vamp can’t help but bite him. This formula should produce a pretty hot read, but here it never takes off. The characters were a bit one dimensional, and though Nathan, the human, was likeable, he wasn’t fully developed. We got very little of his backstory, and some of his interactions with the secondary characters, and Lex, the vamp, were just awkward.

Lex is an enforcer for the vampire council, and the storyline about why he was in town was just hard to understand. I found it to be amateurishly written. As a couple they could have worked, and they did in some scenes, but their dialogue at times was just cheesy, and I was turned off.

Then the crazy girlfriend plotline was just that—crazy—and the resolution was ridiculous, not believable at all. Yes, this is a fantasy, but I wanted to be engrossed in that fantasy and I wasn’t.

An Unforgettable Bite was a subpar effort that could have done more with its characters, storyline, and in the writing department. It could have been more memorable, but it wasn’t.

TNA_Signature_Lana

 

 

 

You can buy An Unforgettable Bite here:

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Charlie Cochet, Giveaways

Guest Post and Giveaway: The Against the Grain Blog Tour with Charlie Cochet

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We’re so pleased to welcome author Charlie Cochet and the Against the Grain blog tour to The Novel Approach today. Charlie’s here to chat a bit about her special brand of shifters, and she’s also offering one lucky reader the chance to win an awesome swag-pack and a $10 Amazon Gift Card.

You can enter by clicking on the Rafflecopter widget below.

Good luck!

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Hello all! Thank you so much for joining me as I celebrate the release of the fifth book in the THIRDS series, Against the Grain. Today I’m going to chat a little bit about Therians across the globe.

As some of you may know, Therians were born from the use of chemical warfare during the Vietnam War. A virus was released and when unsuspecting troops returned home all across the globe, the infection spread. Using strains of animals immune to the virus, scientists created a vaccine, unaware of the dormant mutation within the virus. This mutation gave birth to Therians. Although hundreds of thousands died, those who survived passed their mutation onto their children. In 1976 the mutation perfected itself, resulting in First Generation Therians. Sloane and Ash are both First Gens.

Any Therian born before First Gens are known as Pre First Gens, and they have many health issues varying in severity caused by the mutation. Seb and Rafe are Pre First Gens, both born tiger Therians due to their father having fought in Vietnam and becoming infected, becoming a tiger Therian.

When the virus broke out, it spread across the globe. Wherever there are people, there are Therians. When the United States created Therian Legislation and the Therian branch of government, many other countries did the same. The Therian Human Intelligence Recon Defense Squadron first opened its doors on US soil, but as a separate military funded organization, soon the THIRDS began to branch out across the world. Every country has its own THIRDS organization. The number of branches depends on how big the country is and the Therian population.

Whatever country you live in, there’s a THIRDS organization, some very prominent. London, Paris, Berlin, Rome, Mumbai, Osaka, Mexico City, Seoul, Cairo, Moscow, Mila, Taipei, Beijing—just to name a few—hold their country’s THIRDS HQ. Although each country runs their THIRDS differently, their goal is a common one: justice and equality for Humans and Therians.

Unfortunately, there are parts of the world where the THIRDS is non-existent, as Therians have limited rights. Not all countries have embraced their Therian citizens, refusing to allow Therians to be considered equals. The laws are far stricter and in some cases just being a Therian in that country is dangerous. In the United States, Therians are marked. Next to this tattoo on their necks, the only physical feature that makes them recognizable as Therians are their eyes. When the light hits them in the right way, their eyes reflect the light, making it look as if their eyes are glowing, just like the eyes of animals, allowing them to see in the dark. In some parts of the world, they use light as a way to identify Therians, arresting them for breaking laws which would not apply to Humans.

Since Therians have only been around forty-odd years, the Humanity is still coming to grips with no longer being the dominant species. The world has a long way to go, but it’s moving in the right direction.

~Charlie

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Title: Against the Grain

Series: THIRDS: Book Five

Author: Charlie Cochet

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Cover Artist: L.C. Chase

Length: 216 Pages

Blurb: As the fiercest Defense Agent at the THIRDS, Destructive Delta’s Ash Keeler is foul-mouthed and foul-tempered. But his hard-lined approach always yields results, evident by his recent infiltration of the Coalition. Thanks to Ash’s skills and the help of his team, they finally put an end to the murdering extremist group for good, though not before Ash takes a bullet to save teammate Cael Maddock. As a result, Ash’s secrets start to surface, and he can no longer ignore what’s in his heart.

Cael Maddock is no stranger to heartache. As a Recon Agent for Destructive Delta, he has successfully maneuvered through the urban jungle that is New York City, picking up his own scars along the way. Yet nothing he’s ever faced has been more of a challenge than the heart of Ash Keeler, his supposedly straight teammate. Being in love isn’t the only danger he and Ash face as wounds reopen and new secrets emerge, forcing them to question old loyalties.

Buy Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | All Romance eBooks | Barnes & Noble

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AboutTheAuthor Creative Minds

Charlie CochetCharlie Cochet is an author by day and artist by night. Always quick to succumb to the whispers of her wayward muse, no star is out of reach when following her passion. From adventurous agents and sexy shifters, to society gentlemen and hardboiled detectives, there’s bound to be plenty of mischief for her heroes to find themselves in, and plenty of romance, too!

Currently residing in Central Florida, Charlie is at the beck and call of a rascally Doxiepoo bent on world domination. When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found reading, drawing, or watching movies. She runs on coffee, thrives on music, and loves to hear from readers.

||  Facebook  ||  Facebook Page  ||  Twitter  ||  Google+  ||  Blog  ||  Website  ||  Pinterest  ||  Tumblr  ||  Goodreads  ||  Newsletter  

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THE GIVEAWAY

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THE GOODIES

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3 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Hollis Shiloh, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Sadonna, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: The Sea Calls My Name by Hollis Shiloh

Title: The Sea Calls my Name

Author: Hollis Shiloh

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 70 Pages

At a Glance: A sweet and slightly angsty fantasy of young love and destiny.

Reviewed By: Sadonna

Blurb: He lost his magic. How?

Returning to the bookstore by the sea, Daniel worries about how to tell his father that the money he saved to send his gifted son to magic school was a waste.

Daniel buries his secret under the pretense of coming home for a vacation. Then he meets Leaf Springfield, a beautiful young man who’s been systematically beaten down by his uncle.

Irresistibly drawn to one another, they learn they share more than a love for raw fish and the ocean—both have lost a mother, and their ties to the ocean may be more fantastic than they can imagine.

Passion explodes between the two. It terrifies Daniel how quickly his feelings for Leaf grow. There may be more here than meets the eye—about both of them

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Review: I enjoyed this sweet and slightly angsty story of young love between Leaf and Daniel.

Daniel returns from school feeling like a disgrace and disappointment because he seemed to have lost the magic that had him leaving home to learn and train. He does, however, feel much better once he is home and close to the ocean again. The taste of raw fish and the comfort of the ocean smell and breeze and sound bring him comfort, even though he is ashamed to tell his father that he is home for good. Daniel’s father is happy to see him and have him home, and doesn’t press him about school.

Daniel meets Leaf at the fishmonger’s and then discovers his father has hired the boy. They hit it off right away and are drawn to each other and the sea. Leaf’s uncle beats him, and Daniel is bereft when Leaf leaves at night – something he doesn’t really understand. He manages to get Leaf back, but not without doing something that will bring them trouble.

Leaf moves in with Daniel and his father, and both of them go to work – Daniel with his father at the bookstore and Leaf with a fisherman. They spend all their free time together and can’t seem to bear being apart. But, of course their happy idyll is broken by the arrival of the authorities, who accuse Daniel of misusing his power. That might be the end of everything for Daniel and Leaf, and the wizards are confounded by what they find out. The stress of the situation pushes Daniel to say things he regrets, and Leaf takes matters into his own hands. Luckily, Daniel’s father is a very smart man, and he keeps Daniel on track and they are able to make things work together.

There are a lot of sweet and romantic moments in this story with just a small dose of fantasy elements to make things interesting. Leaf and Daniel are two young men who in many ways are quite sheltered and so their instant and nearly overwhelming attraction is shocking to them. How they deal with that very fast bonding and the reality of their situation makes for an engaging tale.







 

You can buy The Sea Calls My Name here:

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5 Stars, Charlie Cochet, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Karen, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Release Day Review: Against the Grain by Charlie Cochet

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Title:  Against the Grain (THIRDS: Book Five)

Author:  Charlie Cochet

Publisher:  Dreamspinner Press

Page/Word Count:  220 Pages

At a Glance:  I have loved every book and audio in this series so far, and absolutely can’t wait for more of the THIRDS.

Reviewed By:  Karen

Blurb:  As the fiercest Defense Agent at the THIRDS, Destructive Delta’s Ash Keeler is foul-mouthed and foul-tempered. But his hard-lined approach always yields results, evident by his recent infiltration of the Coalition. Thanks to Ash’s skills and the help of his team, they finally put an end to the murdering extremist group for good, though not before Ash takes a bullet to save teammate Cael Maddock. As a result, Ash’s secrets start to surface, and he can no longer ignore what’s in his heart.

Cael Maddock is no stranger to heartache. As a Recon Agent for Destructive Delta, he has successfully maneuvered through the urban jungle that is New York City, picking up his own scars along the way. Yet nothing he’s ever faced has been more of a challenge than the heart of Ash Keeler, his supposedly straight teammate. Being in love isn’t the only danger he and Ash face as wounds reopen and new secrets emerge, forcing them to question old loyalties.

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Review:  So, a little less than a year ago, I ordered a book from Dreamspinner Press because it was being offered for free. I didn’t really read the blurb or any reviews, I hadn’t heard of the author or the series, but it was free and my budget was tight so I thought, well, I give it a shot.  That book was Hell & High Water, and I fell in love.

Although the first books all revolved mostly around Dex and Sloane, they really showcase the entire team, and this book is Ash and Cael’s story.  We get a little more background on things that have made these two who they are, and I don’t think their story could have been done any better than it was.  Even though there was a change in the MC in this book, it still focuses on the team, so you still get snippets of all of the guys and girls we love. I liked getting a look at the team from a different perspective and to get to see a how Ash and Cael view the crazy going on around them. I seriously want a friend like Dex.

As a couple, Ash and Cael are so sweet. They seem to bring out the best in each other. They make each other see themselves as the other sees them: strong, sweet, fierce, protective and loved.

I have loved every book and audio in this series so far, and absolutely can’t wait for more of the THIRDS.  I can only imagine how awesome Calvin and Hobbs story is going to be!

TNA_Signature_Karen

 

 

 

You can buy Against the Grain here:

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Giveaways, Less Than Three Press, Lexi Ander

Guest Post and Giveaway: The Surrounded by Crimson Blog Tour with Lexi Ander

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We’re so pleased to welcome author Lexi Ander back today, on the Surrounded by Crimson blog tour.

Since the color red is referenced in the title of the book, I asked Lexi if she’d like to chat about symbolism, what the color represents in the story, and if the symbolism was intentional or synchronstic.

Enjoy what she has to say on the subject, then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below for the chance to win one of the following prizes:

  1. $20 Amazon Gift card, $20 All Romance Gift card, hard copy of Surrounded by Crimson, swag (pens, bookmarks)
  2. $20 All Romance Gift card, hard copy of Surrounded by Crimson, swag (pens, bookmarks)
  3. hard copy of Surrounded by Crimson, swag (pens, bookmarks)
  4. e-book copy of Surrounded by Crimson
  5. e-book copy of Surrounded by Crimson

Good luck!

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Lexi: Do I include different symbolic elements into the story? Ah… yes and no. I don’t usually use symbolism on purpose. Most of the time it’s accidental and I have a moment where I think, “Hey, that would fit like a beaut!” Sometimes I insert symbols of the culture that I’m writing about. But… when I sat down to pen Surrounded by Crimson, I did intend to us the some symbolism for the color red.

Red is powerful and invokes a wide range of emotional responses in people that goes from the sexy side of passion, seduction, and love to the negative reactions of violence and anger. With prehistoric people, the color was associated with the primal forces of fire and blood.

When I was writing Dreams of the Forgotten, I was also reading The Rise and Fall of Babylon. There was a description of a burial site that predated Babylonia. At the excavation of Uruk, there was a list of items found along with an explanation of red being the color of mourning for the area. There were other tidbits about the length of time they mourned along with habits and rituals, which fascinated me—and some pieces made it into the ending of Dreams of the Forgotten. Tristan wears red as he mourns for the loss of Brian.

Tristan’s red robes were carried forward into Surrounded by Crimson, but had nothing to do with the title, at the beginning. No, I had meant for the symbolism to be about sacrifice because this was supposed to be the book in which some died. The idea was nixed when I was in the middle of book three, but I kept the title based on the replacement scene which would be pivotal to the storyline. When my writing finally dropped my off at that point, I had a thought went something like this. “Well, hell, how is Tristan going to show people what this looks like when he can’t step outside of himself to show everyone that?” Briefly, I considered changing the title.

All wasn’t lost, though. When I finished, I noticed I had woven in the mourning element, along with the love, the rage, and well, I won’t give away spoilers, but there was another element, and it all fit. The title came to represent several things instead of that one snippet of a scene. In no way was the symbolism intentional, but I happen to think that since I had the title picked out long before I began writing helped to bring everything together than if I had planned it. ^_^

Fun Facts About Red

Red is one of the top two favorite colors of all people.

Red is the most popular color used on flags in the world. Approximately 77% of all flags include red.

Red is the international color for stop.

Red districts sell sex and pornography in every European culture.

The history of languages reveals that red is the first color after black and white. (All languages have words for black and white. If a third hue exists, it is red.)

Cultural Meanings

Red is the color of good luck in Asia and is the most popular color in China.

Most Japanese children draw the sun as a big red circle.

In East Asian stock markets, red is used to denote a rise in stock prices. (Note: In North American stock markets, red is used to denote a drop in stock prices.)

Red is an auspicious color for marriage. Brides in India and Nepal wear red saris; in Japan, a red kimono symbolizes happiness and good luck.

In Russia, the word for “red” means beautiful.

Thank you for stopping by and reading! Good luck with the giveaway!

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Cover Surrounded by CrimsonBlurb: Tristan has agreed to bond with Ushna but there is still much to do and returning to Tribe Enkidu puts everyone on edge. Tristan is being stalked like prey all the while fighting depression as he mourns the loss of Nikita and enduring a battle of wills with the Elder Council over his birthright. The pleading of his adoptive daughter only adds still more stress to the situation.

Stumbling onto a secret prison while searching for Ushna leads Tristan to risk everything to free a lost God. But breaking the tie to his Flame has more repercussions than Tristan knew and the assistance of a forgotten Goddess and a centuries old lover may not be enough to save him.

Buy Links: Less Than Three Press | Amazon US | All Romance eBooks

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Lexi Ander Bio PicAbout the Author: Lexi has always been an avid reader, and at a young age started reading (secretly) her mother’s romances (the ones she was told not to touch). She was the only teenager she knew of who would be grounded from reading. Later, with a pencil and a note book, she wrote her own stories and shared them with friends because she loved to see their reactions. A Texas transplant, Lexi now kicks her boots up in the Midwest with her Yankee husband and her eighty-pound puppies named after vacuum cleaners.

Where to find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Blog | E-mail | Goodreads

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THE GIVEAWAY

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Tour Stops:

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5 Stars, Cari Z., Reviewed by Angel, Riptide Publishing, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: Where There’s Fire by Cari Z.

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Title: Where There’s Fire (Panopolis: Book Two)

Author: Cari Z.

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 119 pages

At a Glance: Cari Z delivers another excellent, action packed adventure from Panopolis!

Reviewed By: Angel

Blurb: Making a name for myself as a Villain in Panopolis is hard work. Six months ago, my boyfriend broke me out of jail. Now he’s spending most of his time defending our turf against other Villains he accidentally freed along with me. And my new psychic powers are not only impossible to control, but they’re also giving me migraines.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. My skills are improving every day, and Raul—aka the Mad Bombardier—and I have never been happier. That is, until my first solo job is interrupted by a mysterious woman who tells me that Raul has been kidnapped by a ruthless new Villain. The only way to free him is to do a job for Maggot, a man with scary ideas and an even scarier superpower.
I can’t go to the cops or a Hero for help. Odds are they wouldn’t listen to me anyway. If I fail, Raul will be killed. If I succeed, we’ll both be bound to a man who’ll stop at nothing to put Panopolis on the path to civil war.
It looks like the only way to win is to take out the competition.

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Review: Cari Z. delivers another excellent, action packed adventure from Panopolis! I will never look at Heroes and Villains the same way again, and neither will you. This is a most excellent thing, indeed.

When I saw this title go up as one of our choices, I jumped on it. I could not get enough of the first book in the series, and though it was only a little over a month ago that I read Where There’s Smoke, it felt like forever. It was so well done, I hadn’t forgotten a thing about the plot, and Fire picks up shortly after where Smoke ended. It is still the gritty, realistic fantasy that packs a well-placed punch to the gut when all is revealed in this installment.

Cari Z., Panopolis, Raul, and Edward do not disappoint. Like the first story, I couldn’t put this one down when I began reading, and I was ecstatic with the outcome even as I was saddened by it ending. I can’t wait for more of this verse by the author.

The storyline moves the characters along at a fast pace, but you are right there with them as the action happens. I found myself cheering Edward on as he struggled to find his place and rescue Raul. I hissed at the big, bad Villain each time he appeared, and fell for the newest characters introduced in this book.

Don’t get me wrong; I am still totally in love with Raul and Edward and their story, but I think I just might change my stance on Freight Train. I really didn’t like him in the first novel, but Cari Z. made me care just a bit about this Hero, even though I am a strict Villain-type woman. I want his story!

So much happens in such a short time, and I won’t spoil you here, but not one word was wasted. The economy made me savor the story, even though it seemed to just speed on by, and I craved more when it ended. I love that the author has turned this genre on its nose, and gives nothing but the best in continuity, character development and story in this book. If you haven’t read the first one, I highly recommend you do because while you are given the backstory in Fire, the experience is richer for having read Smoke first.

I am so on my toes to find out just what is happening in Panopolis, wondering who exactly SuperTruther is, waiting for Freight Train’s tale, and how Edward and Raul are going to survive this next stage of their lives that it just leaves me breathless with anticipation.

All I can say is read it and enjoy! Thank you, again, Cari Z., for such a fantastic and engaging tale in your excellently crafted world!

TNA_Signature_Angel

 

 

 

You can buy Where There’s Fire here:

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5 Stars, Audio Book, Charlie Cochet, Dreamspinner Press, Narration Rating - 5 Stars, Reviewed by Amy, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Audio Review: Rise & Fall by Charlie Cochet – Narrated by Mark Westfield

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Title: Rise & Fall (THIRDS: Book Four)

Author: Charlie Cochet

Narrator:: Mark Westfield

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 8 Hours and 47 Minutes

At a Glance: Perfection…Simply perfection.

Reviewed By: Amy

Blurb: After an attack by the Coalition leaves THIRDS Team Leader Sloane Brodie critically injured, agent Dexter J. Daley swears to make Beck Hogan pay for what he’s done. But Dex’s plans for retribution are short-lived. With Ash still on leave with his own injuries, Sloane in the hospital, and Destructive Delta in the Coalition’s crosshairs, Lieutenant Sparks isn’t taking any chances. Dex’s team is pulled from the case, with the investigation handed to Team Leader Sebastian Hobbs. Dex refuses to stand by while another team goes after Hogan, and decides to put his old HPF detective skills to work to find Hogan before Theta Destructive, no matter the cost.

With a lengthy and painful recovery ahead of him, the last thing Sloane needs is his partner out scouring the city, especially when the lies—however well-intentioned—begin to spiral out of control. Sloane is all too familiar with the desire to retaliate, but some things are more important, like the man who’s pledged to stand beside him. As Dex starts down a dark path, it’s up to Sloane to show him what’s at stake, and finally put a name to what’s in his heart.

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Review: MORE!!! That is all I have to say. These THIRDS books have made me a fangirl. I can’t help myself. I drive down the road listening to these books, and people look at me funny because I am tearing up I am laughing so hard. I have to say that Dex is one of my favorite fictional characters. The whole support crew makes me smile. This series is so well written, and when this book was over, I was sad. I wanted to listen to them all over again, so I, in fact, listened to this audio again as soon as it was done. You can’t ask for more in these books. You get comedy, true love, action sequences, 80s music and hot man sex. SIGN ME UP!

Narration: In my eyes, Mark Westfield can do no wrong. He is freaking brilliant. I read the first few books of this series…but after listening to them on audio, I will never go to the written word again. He takes these characters and brings them to life. He uses sound effects and his own particular style. Although he reads all the characters, I feel that Mark is Dex. Perfection…simply perfection.

TNA_Signature_Amy







 

You can buy Rise & Fall here:

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Cari Z., Giveaways, Riptide Publishing

Guest Post and Giveaway: The Where There’s Fire Blog Tour with Cari Z.

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Welcome to author Cari Z. and Riptide Publishing’s blog tour for Cari’s new book Where There’s Fire. Check out the great guest post we have for you, and then be sure to leave a comment right here to enter in the giveaway.

The winner of the Where There’s Fire blog tour will work with Cari to name a character in the next Panopolis novella! Comment on this blog tour to enter in the drawing. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on July 18. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. Entries. Please leave your email in your comment so we can contact you if you win!

Good luck!

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I set the world of Panopolis up to be one of grandeur, with larger-than-life Heroes and Villains doing battle in the name of Good versus Evil, tempered by the fact that nothing is ever that clear cut. It’s fun to write the kind of narcissism and self-righteousness that leads a person to believe they’re always perfect and right, but it’s nothing more than a jumping off point for the characters that populate this story. I’ve delved into the dark and complicated world of Villains, and I’m pleased with what I was able to bring into the light.

But Panopolis is more than just its Villains. What about the mayor, who’s welcomed new businesses with open arms and an offer of Hero representation and product branding, regardless of whether the Hero wants it or not? What about the shadowy presence of SuperTruther, who seems to know so much about what’s going on behind the scenes? What about the Heroes themselves, covered with fame and glory but never allowed to be anything but Heroic, even when they feel like crawling under a rock to hide for a while?

In Where There’s Smoke, I introduced a Hero named Craig, aka Freight Train, who radiates a force field that doesn’t let much through. He’s the ultimate tough guy: powerful, untouchable and a comforting shield against villainy for the people of Panopolis. He’s also sort of a dork, awkward and gullible and far from perfect, who can’t be touched. Literally, he has no human contact with anyone, and by Where There’s Fire that trait is wearing for him. What would he do for the chance to touch someone again? How far, or perhaps how low, would he go?

Well, I’m not sure yet. But I’m working on it. Stay tuned for more in the Panopolis universe, my fair readers, and I hope you enjoy Where There’s Fire in all its heroic and villainous fun.

PS, I hope you noticed the prize for this blog tour, because if you win you get to help me name a character.

~Cari Z.

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WhereTheresFire_600x900Blurb: Making a name for myself as a Villain in Panopolis is hard work. Six months ago, my boyfriend broke me out of jail. Now he’s spending most of his time defending our turf against other Villains he accidentally freed along with me. And my new psychic powers are not only impossible to control, but they’re also giving me migraines.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. My skills are improving every day, and Raul—aka the Mad Bombardier—and I have never been happier. That is, until my first solo job is interrupted by a mysterious woman who tells me that Raul has been kidnapped by a ruthless new Villain. The only way to free him is to do a job for Maggot, a man with scary ideas and an even scarier superpower.

I can’t go to the cops or a Hero for help. Odds are they wouldn’t listen to me anyway. If I fail, Raul will be killed. If I succeed, we’ll both be bound to a man who’ll stop at nothing to put Panopolis on the path to civil war.

It looks like the only way to win is to take out the competition.

Buy Links: Riptide Publishing | Amazon | All Romance eBooks

Read Chapter One HERE

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About the Author: Cari Z was a bookworm as a child and remains one to this day. In an effort to combat her antisocial reading behavior, she did all sorts of crazy things, from competitive gymnastics to alligator wresting (who even knew that was legal!) to finally joining the Peace Corps, which promptly sent her and her husband to the wilds of West Africa, stuck them in a hut, and said, “See ya!” She also started writing, because some things she just thought she could do better. She’s still climbing that ladder, but can’t stop herself from writing, or from sharing what she creates.

Cari enjoys a wide range of literary genres, from the classics (get ‘im, Ahab) to science fiction and fantasy of all types, to historical fiction and reference materials (no, seriously, there are so many great encyclopedias out there). She writes in a wide range of genres as well, but somehow 90% of what she produces ends up falling into the broad and exciting category of m/m erotica. There’s a sprinkling of f/m and f/f and even m/f/m in her repertoire, but her true love is man love. And there’s a lot of love to go around.

Cari has published short stories, novellas, and novels with numerous print and e-presses, and she also offers up a tremendous amount of free content on Literotica.com, under the name Carizabeth.

Connect with Cari: Website | Blog | Twitter

Cari is Riptide’s author of the month! Read her interview on Riptide’s website

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Dreamspinner Press, J. Scott Coatsworth

Guest Post: Between the Lines by J. Scott Coatsworth

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One of the best things about being an author is that you get to write what you love. For me, that’s always been sci fi and fantasy.

But growing up as a gay kid in the closet, I also wanted to read more about people like me. But I was afraid that if I wrote about them, others might think I was gay – something that had to be avoided at all costs.

Eventually, though, I came out – but my writing didn’t. I still tended to write the same heterosexual characters. And then I stopped writing.

Then about two years ago, I got bitten by the writing bug again. With some encouragement from my husband, Mark, I picked up the metaphorical fountain pen and set to it once more.

But this time was different. This time I decided to write about my family in the LGBTQI community. My fiction took on a new life and energy, powered by the revelation that I had things to say, both in sci fi and fantasy and in my own community.

And about my actual community. My first stand-alone novella, Between the Lines, is one of which I am fiercely proud. Not just because it’s the first thing I’ve written with my name (only my name and no one else’s) on the cover, but because it’s about my adopted hometown, Sacramento. I had a lot of fun writing this one, and some of my favorite places are included. A few of them appear under their real names, while others have been fictionalized. But when I read the story, I can see in my head exactly where each scene takes place.

Sacramento is a quiet place for a big city, and it’s a political town. As the state capital, it’s where all the major policy fights happen, and it seemed like the perfect place to set my political magical realism tale.

If you read it, I hope you like it – it’s my little love letter to Sacramento.

And if you are considering becoming a writer, here’s some advice. Write because you have to, because the words are burning you up inside and are trying to get out.

Write what you love.

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BTL CoverBlurb: Brad Weston’s life seems perfect. He’s GQ handsome, the Chief of Staff for a Republican California State Senator, and enjoys the power and the promise of a bright future. And he’s in a comfortable relationship with his boyfriend of six years, Alex.

Sam Fuller is Brad’s young, blond, blue-eyed intern, fresh out of college, running from a bad break-up, and questioning his choices and his new life in politics. To make things worse, Sam also has a thing for the boss, but Brad is already taken.

While looking for a gift for his boyfriend, Brad wanders into a curiosity shop and becomes fascinated by an old wooden medallion. Brad’s not a superstitious man, but when he takes out the medallion in his office, he sees the world in a new light. And nothing will ever be the same.

Categories: Paranormal, Urban Fantasy

Buy Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | All Romance eBooks | Kobo | Barnes & Noble

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Excerpt: It began with a medallion.

The piece was a simple wooden disk, hand carved with the shapes of leaves and forest boughs and polished by centuries of use, giving it a patina of great age.

It sat upon a small green velvet pillow—the kind jewelers sometimes use, rather unsuccessfully, to enhance a plain necklace of false pearls. The kind you might expect to find on your grandmother’s settee, in a slightly larger size, embroidered with “Home Sweet Home.”

Yet there was something compulsive about it—something hidden in the dark crevices of the carving, filled with the dust of ages.

At least that’s what Brad would recall years later, when he thought back on the first time he saw it: the moment when the lines of his mundane life suddenly snarled, snapped, and ultimately recombined into something quite different.

Of course, he didn’t know any of this at the time.

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Author BioAuthor Bio: Scott has been writing since elementary school, when he and won a University of Arizona writing contest in 4th grade for his first sci fi story (with illustrations!). He finished his first novel in his mid twenties, but after seeing it rejected by ten publishers, he gave up on writing for a while.

Over the ensuing years, he came back to it periodically, but it never stuck. Then one day, he was complaining to Mark, his husband, early last year about how he had been derailed yet again by the death of a family member, and Mark said to him “the only one stopping you from writing is you.”

Since then, Scott has gone back to writing in a big way, finishing more than a dozen short stories – some new, some that he had started years before – and seeing his first sale. He’s embarking on a new trilogy, and also runs the Queer Sci Fi site, a support group for writers of gay sci fi, fantasy, and supernatural fiction.

Website | Facebook

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4 Stars, N.R. Walker, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Sadonna, Self-Published

Review: Cronin’s Key II by N.R. Walker

Title: Cronin’s Key II

Author: N.R. Walker

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 195 Pages

At a Glance: Another wild ride with Alec and Cronin and the rest of the vamps. This is what the Indiana Jones movies would be like if Indy were a gay vampire!

Reviewed By: Sadonna

Blurb: History isn’t always what it seems.

With the battle of Egypt behind them, Alec and Cronin are enjoying the thrill of new love. Though fate doesn’t wait long before throwing them back into the world of weird.

They know Alec’s blood is special, though its true purpose still eludes them. And given Alec’s inability to be changed into a vampire, Cronin is free to drink from him at will. But the ramifications of drinking such powerful blood starts a ripple effect.

With the help of Jorge, a disturbing vampire-child with the gift of foresight, Alec and Cronin face a new kind of war. This time their investigations lead them to the borders of China and Mongolia—but it’s not what lies in the pits beneath that worries Alec.

It’s the creator behind it all.

In the underground depths of China, amidst a war with the Terracotta Army, they will find out just what the Key is, and what Alec means to the vampire world.

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Review: Note: this is the second in a series, and it’s recommended to read in order as much of Book I is a spoiler for Book II.

This series is a madcap romp of paranormal action/suspense and romance! Alec and Cronin have survived one near-miss in Egypt that nearly cost them a very good friend and their own lives. They return to Cronin’s Manhattan condo to luxuriate in their new relationship, but, of course, that can’t last long.

When out for a night of fun with other vampires, it seems that something strange is happening to Cronin, and it looks like it might be traced back to his new life with Alec and Alec’s blood. In addition to the changes in Cronin, it seems that there are more mysterious occurrences around the world that lead them to suspect the work of rogue vampires. Yet another historical figure turns out to be a long dead vampire who is brought back to seek Alec’s blood in order to wreak havoc on the world.
Along the way we meet some more vampires with incredible gifts. Cronin and Alec and their friends must solve the mystery of Alec’s purpose and what the true meaning of his blood and what exactly he is the “key” to, all the while dodging the assassins and kidnappers who seem to dog their every move. Everyone near and dear to Alec is in danger during this adventure. Cronin is distraught at the possibility of Alec being in mortal danger. They are so attuned to each other that it’s obvious that any harm to one will result in catastrophic harm to the other. Cronin wants nothing but to protect Alec and Alec wants nothing more than to resolve the problem in a way that will save both of them. Once again the climactic scene brings us full circle, with astonishing surprises and unforeseen revelations about Alec and his past.

This story had even more surprises than the first installment, in my opinion. I really liked how Alec and Cronin’s relationship changed in this book, and, as a result, led them to being an even stronger couple. The mysterious child vampire, Jorge, really added a fascinating and unexpected component to the story. His gifts and talents were amazing! In addition, there were more history lessons and creative twists on the known accounts of the Chinese terracotta army that made the story just that much more fun.

This series is highly recommended for those who like action, adventure, history, creative paranormal elements and hot, hot smexiness. I cannot wait for the next chapter!







 

You can buy Cronin’s Key II here:

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All Romance eBooks

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Giveaways, Rhys Ford

Guest Post and Giveaway: The Ink and Shadows Tour with Rhys Ford

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The Novel Approach is pleased to bring you the final leg of Kismet’s journey on Rhys Ford’s Ink and Shadows blog tour. Sit back, relax, learn a little bit about Kisment, and be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below for the chance to win not only a Pestilence Pony BUT ALSO a $25 Gift Card to the e-tailer of the winner’s choice.

Good luck!

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First, thank the blogs for having me on this Ink and Shadows tour! Thank you so so much! Secondly, this next part will be the same across the blogs but I wanted to give a bit of a soundbite about the whys of this book.

In the Beginning, there was urban fantasy. Okay, to be fair, the urban fantasy genre didn’t exist when I began to read. Back then, it was pretty much either sci-fi or high fantasy. There were murmurs of urban fantasy—Mercedes Lackey’s elves / bard series, Gael Baudino’s Gossamer Axe, to name a few—but it caught and began gaining traction, a bastard stepchild of magic and an alternative universe.

Urban fantasy was always a playground for experimentation, and I wanted to go off the rails a bit with Ink and Shadows. There had to be a solid footing in the contemporary world and the underbelly of humanity. Or rather, the expression of humanity. When I wrote this book, it was to explore the possibilities of personalities and, okay, play around with the world.

I chose to write about the Horsemen of the Apocalypse and Kismet, the human who changes their world, because I wanted to delve into their being a necessary part of humanity’s existence. Over the course of the tour, I’ll touch on the main characters and components of the Horsemen’s world.

I hope you all like Ink and Shadows, my foray past the shadows.

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Kismet

Kismet is a complicated character to write. He is human, yet touched by a slight madness…or at least he thinks so. Struggling with the shadows moving around him, Kismet fell to heroin to maintain an even keel. Tattooing and art drives him, it helps him focus his mind off of the world pushing in on him. It also serves as a means for him to express the insanity surging around him.

He thinks he’s managing fine.

Until one day, something breaks and the shadows come crashing down on top of him.

And that’s when he meets Mal—Pestilence of the Four Horsemen. Sort of.

Kismet’s world is broken apart, everything he thought wasn’t real turns out to exist and suddenly the crazy—the comfortable crazy he’d been living with—isn’t so insane any more. But the world keeps spinning and someone or something is after him.

I wanted to write a human—a flawed human—being thrust into the Horsemen’s shadowy world. To be shoved beyond the Looking Glass, as it were. To find the struggles of humanity played out on a bigger stage, over eons and manipulated by not-quite-people who are as human and flawed as Kismet.

There is an attraction Kismet feels towards Mal and in some ways, Kismet is a hell of a lot older than Pestilence. He’s fought to survive, fought to find his footing and scraped together a fairly decent living for himself, as far as he’s concerned. To have his existence suddenly expanded is overwhelming but he’s a survivor. He can land on his feet.

But it seems like someone is trying to kick Kismet’s feet out from under him…and the Horsemen are the only ones who can save—or damn—him.

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o-ink-and-shadowsBlurb: Kismet Andreas lives in fear of the shadows.

For the young tattoo artist, the shadows hold more than darkness. He is certain of his insanity because the dark holds creatures and crawling things only he can see—monsters who hunt out the weak to eat their minds and souls, leaving behind only empty husks and despair.

And if there’s one thing Kismet fears more than being hunted—it’s the madness left in its wake.

The shadowy Veil is Mal’s home. As Pestilence, he is the youngest—and most inexperienced—of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, immortal manifestations resurrected to serve—and cull—mankind. Invisible to all but the dead and insane, the Four exist between the Veil and the mortal world, bound to their nearly eternal fate. Feared by other immortals, the Horsemen live in near solitude but Mal longs to know more than Death, War and Famine.

Mal longs to be… more human. To interact with someone other than lunatics or the deceased.

When Kismet rescues Mal from a shadowy attack, Pestilence is suddenly thrust into a vicious war—where mankind is the prize, and the only one who has faith in Mal is the human the other Horsemen believe is destined to die.

BUY LINKS: DSP Publications | Amazon | OmniLit/ARe | Barnes & Noble

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!rhys_ford_headshotAbout the Author: Rhys Ford was born and raised in Hawai’i then wandered off to see the world. After chewing through a pile of books, a lot of odd food, and a stray boyfriend or two, Rhys eventually landed in San Diego, which is a very nice place but seriously needs more rain.

Rhys admits to sharing the house with three cats of varying degrees of black fur and a ginger cairn terrorist. Rhys is also enslaved to the upkeep a 1979 Pontiac Firebird, a Toshiba laptop, and an overworked red coffee maker.

My Blog | Facebook | Twitter

And at the Starbucks down the street. No really, they’re 24/7. And a drive-thru. It’s like heaven.

My books can be purchased, folded and first chapters read at Dreamspinner Press.

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THE GIVEAWAY

Pestilence Pony - Guaranteed not to make you itch, hork, or break out in leprosy

Pestilence Pony – Guaranteed not to make you itch, hork, or break out in leprosy


Rafflecopter Giveaway

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Tour Dates:
July 2: Love Bytes | July 3: It’s About the Book | July 6: Sinfully Sexy | July 7: RELEASE DAY! WOOOOT | July 8: Prism Book Alliance | July 9: Joyfully Jay | July 10: GGR Review | July 11: The Blogger Girls

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Charlie Cochet, Cover Reveal, Dreamspinner Press

Cover Reveal, Excerpt, and Giveaway: Against the Grain by Charlie Cochet

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Title: Against the Grain
Series: THIRDS: Book Five
Author: Charlie Cochet
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: August 3, 2015
Cover Artist: L.C. Chase

Blurb: As the fiercest Defense Agent at the THIRDS, Destructive Delta’s Ash Keeler is foul-mouthed and foul-tempered. But his hard-lined approach always yields results, evident by his recent infiltration of the Coalition. Thanks to Ash’s skills and the help of his team, they finally put an end to the murdering extremist group for good, though not before Ash takes a bullet to save teammate Cael Maddock. As a result, Ash’s secrets start to surface, and he can no longer ignore what’s in his heart.

Cael Maddock is no stranger to heartache. As a Recon Agent for Destructive Delta, he has successfully maneuvered through the urban jungle that is New York City, picking up his own scars along the way. Yet nothing he’s ever faced has been more of a challenge than the heart of Ash Keeler, his supposedly straight teammate. Being in love isn’t the only danger he and Ash face as wounds reopen and new secrets emerge, forcing them to question old loyalties.

PRE-ORDER NOW: e-Book | Paperback

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Excerpt: “You should have seen him,” Dex said with a laugh. “He looked so adorable with his cheetah fuzz shaped into spikes, from his head down to his back. Like a little spotted punk rocker.”

Maddock shook his head at Dex. “It took me two hours to wash all the hair spray off your brother’s fur.”

“We were pretending to be Guns N’ Roses,” Cael explained. “Dex was singing ‘Welcome to the Jungle,’ and I was backup sing—er, chirping.”

Ash laughed and playfully bumped Cael’s shoulder. “I’m going to have to agree with Dex. That’s adorable.” Even in his Therian form, Ash thought Cael was the sweetest thing he’d ever laid eyes on. Cael could be in his Therian form among thousands of cheetahs, and Ash would be able to point him out. His little gestures, the heart shape of his nose, or the way he chirped away, as if anyone not in their Therian form might understand him if he tried hard enough.

Dex grabbed Sloane’s arm. “Tell me you recorded that. Doesn’t matter. I have witnesses.” Dex stood and motioned to all of them. “Witnesses! You all heard it. Ash said he agrees with me.”

“Oh, good Lord. We’re never going to hear the end of this,” Maddock sighed, getting up to clear the dishes.

“Do you realize how epic this moment is?” Dex said, helping clear up.

“It’s not really that epic,” Maddock replied.

Dex let out an exaggerated gasp. “Where have you been living? Ash Keeler has agreed with something I, Dexter J. Daley, has said.”

“About your brother being adorable. Not exactly earthshattering. He’s thought that since they met.”

The table fell into silence as they all gaped at Maddock. Well, this was news to Ash. What the hell? Seeming to notice the quiet, or more likely the lack of Dex talking, Maddock looked up.

“What are you, fish? Close your mouths.”

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Charlie CochetAbout the Author: Charlie Cochet is an author by day and artist by night. Always quick to succumb to the whispers of her wayward muse, no star is out of reach when following her passion. From adventurous agents and sexy shifters, to society gentlemen and hardboiled detectives, there’s bound to be plenty of mischief for her heroes to find themselves in, and plenty of romance, too!

Currently residing in Central Florida, Charlie is at the beck and call of a rascally Doxiepoo bent on world domination. When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found reading, drawing, or watching movies. She runs on coffee, thrives on music, and loves to hear from readers.

Facebook | Facebook Page | Twitter | Google+ | Blog | Website | Pinterest | Tumblr | Goodreads | Newsletter

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THE GIVEAWAY: A $15 Amazon Gift Card

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Read more exclusive excerpts at –

||  Love Bytes Reviews  ||  Gay.Guy.Reading and Friends  ||  The Novel Approach  || ||  Prism Book Alliance  ||  The Blogger Girls  ||  Wicked Faeries Tales And Reviews  || Cate Ashwood  ||  Diverse Reader  ||  The Land of Make Believe  || Because Two Men Are Better Than One  ||

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5 Stars, Audio Book, JCP Books, Jordan Castillo Price, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Narration Rating - 5 Stars, Reviewed by Lisa, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Audio Review: Camp Hell by Jordan Castillo Price – Narrated by Gomez Pugh

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Title: Camp Hell (PsyCop: Book Five)

Author: Jordan Castillo Price

Narrator:: Gomez Pugh

Publisher: JCP Books

Run Time: 10 Hours and 55 Minutes

At a Glance: The PsyCop series is the perfect marriage of author and narrator.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: Victor Bayne honed his dubious psychic skills at one of the first psych training facilities in the country, Heliotrope Station, otherwise known as Camp Hell to the psychics who’ve been guests behind its razorwire fence.

Vic discovered that none of the people he remembers from Camp Hell can be found online, and there’s no mention of Heliotrope Station itself, either. Someone’s gone through a lot of trouble to bury the past. But who?

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Review: Fans of any book series, regardless of genre, will know what I mean when I call Camp Hell a transition book. It’s the book in the series where the hero hits a point in his story arc that signifies an evolution from which there’s no turning back. Victor Bayne has come to that crossroad in Camp Hell, Jacob Marks along with him, and it’s in this book that the PsyCop series transitions from outstanding speculative fiction to entering a class in the M/M genre all by itself.

Up until now, Vic has been rather a blank slate with regards to his time at Heliotrope Station—a.k.a. Camp Hell—and it hasn’t helped that he can’t find a single mention of the place, or of himself, on the internet. Camp Hell has become the one spectre Victor Bayne, medium extraordinaire, can’t see. Nor can he find any trace of some of the names he remembers from his stint there—as if neither the place nor that period of time were even a reality on his physical plane of existence. Except that Vic knows Camp Hell was real, and now he’s located someone to help him dig up and sift through some of those repressed memories.

We learn some things about Vic in this installment of the series, some pretty revealing things, one of them being that before Jacob stormed into Vic’s life, there was Stefan Russo. And Victor loved him. But, not quite enough to prevent Vic from keeping his face turned toward the sun and bolting from Heliotrope Station at the first opportunity. Stefan, now Steven Russell, fourteen years later, is the one who will help Vic remember the fragments of their time together at Camp Hell. Which leads to another of the things we learn in the process, and that’s how very few people—if any—Vic has in his life that he can trust with every part of himself. But we also finally get to see that Jacob comes first on that list.

In Camp Hell something quite significant also becomes much clearer with respect to the relationship between Victor and Jacob, and what Jacob means as a presence in Vic’s life. Vic’s life is death—so much of his existence revolves around the dead, but Jacob…Jacob is a source of life and energy that Victor knows he can trust, possibly even cling to when he needs it, and it’s a great contrast which is juxtaposed even further in that Vic also knows that to work with Jacob would drain him dry, in no uncertain terms.

Not only does Camp Hell excel at exposing more about the characters in this series we’re already familiar with, it also introduces some new players whose roles will be significant as the plot thickens and this series progresses. But where this novel reaches its pinnacle is in the supernatural elements Jordan Castillo Price has imagined, which is not only written with an impressive amount of detail but in a bone-chilling, goose-bump inducing, full-on horror genre fashion. The true horror, however, may be the reinforcement that human monsters exist.

The imagery in the climactic scene with Vic, Jacob, and the ghost at LaSalle Hospital is some of the most vivid fiction I’ve ever read, or, in this case, listened to, the kind of scene you still see when it’s over, every time you close your eyes. Not only that, but it’s such a pivotal moment for both Vic and Jacob, and was the aftermath of us empathizing just a little more with Zig, as well as it being the precursor to a touching and quite human moment with Warwick, a poignancy that doesn’t hit you until that “ah-ha” moment, and then makes your heart clench in empathy.

What could have possibly made this book better? Only one thing: Gomez Pugh narrating it. I’m running out of superlatives to heap on this man’s head, to be perfectly frank, and I remain impressed by not only his capturing Vic’s wit, pragmatism, and an insouciance the medium doesn’t necessarily feel—though attempts to project when anything more would reveal too much—but he continues to come up with new pitches and inflections for the impressive array of characters, both male and female, in the PsyCop series. The addition of Richie (aka Einstein) and his giggle; Dead Darla, who sounds exactly like a woman who’d be called Dead Darla; Con Dreyfuss, the wolf in hemp clothing; and Stefan, whose pretension and personality ooze from Pugh’s vocal cords, only serve to elevate this novel’s intensity and provocativeness.

The PsyCop series and Gomez Pugh were made for each other, the perfect marriage of a narrator who clearly appreciates the material he’s performing, and a series that uses his vocal prowess to its best effect.

TNA_Signature_Lisa







 

You can buy Camp Hell here:

Audible.com

Audible.com

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