Review: Possibilities by Nicole Field, A King’s Council 1

possibilities400

I would rate this 4.75 stars.

This is a new to me author and I bought this based on the blurb. I would say this takes about 90 minutes to read. The writing syle is crisp and focused. It’s the story of a king who doesn’t want to be, was never intended to be, actually king. Hiring his jester is one of his many new duties, but it’s the one that ends up being his most personal. I love the idea of the King’s Jester being a trusted friend and confident. This author is great at building tension: court politics, longing for someone, establishing trust, and navigating power dynamics (not BDSM). Fairy tales can get away with many things that other books can’t. For instance, yes I did find it shocking they were left alone so soon. What if they were an assassin? What if they were a spy? But in this world, the jester school is well respected and trusted. This is meant to be a sweet fairy tale, so there is no room for that here. It’s a personal tale between two people based on mutual respect, a peek into their bubble. I am torn about whether I want another book, because this is perfect as it is in my opinion.

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Review: Rook by T. Strange

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Rook is sent to the alien prison planet B-226 for twenty three years for killing his husband. The average life span on the hostile planet is three weeks. His plan is to live as long as possible to honor his husband’s wishes, and then die and join him. Upon landing he is partnered with a prisoner named Stevie to help guard the miners, or he won’t get fed. There is a strange thrill in fightening off the local fauna and surviving, or having a specific daily purpose, that Rook didn’t count on. Their days are stressful, consisting of violent episodes bracketed by fighting boredom for concentration. Through his POV, the third character is Rook‘s dead husband Carlos. Stevie walks a fine line of teaching Rook how to survive, being wary of any attack or signs of madness setting in, using him for company and sex, but trying not to care too much in case Rook gets killed like all his previous partners.

I found this plot enticing as I personally enjoy when an author explores the psychology of a character. This is a new author to me so I really didn’t know what to expect. The main question here was always going to be, are they just together because of the circumstances? While that is actually asked, finding out the real answer takes the whole book. Bonding over shared trauma isn’t bad as a short cut, as long as it’s not the only thing there. While they are just trying to survive, they don’t actually know anything about each other’s previous lives. What they do know is: how they each react in an emergency, if they are trustworthy and to what extent, how each deals with conflict and triggers, and what factors motivate or de-motivate them. I would argue not knowing facts about someone’s life, or even their particular thoughts at any given moment, is less important than knowing if they can be counted on. I loved that there were so many issues touched on like the complications of choice, personal sovereignty, stages of grief, and PTSD. Having said that, it’s shocking that no one even makes a mention or an attempt at trying to deal with said mental health issues.

There are parts of this book that at times reminded me of movies like Predator, Reign of Fire, Pitch Black, Starship Troopers or Enemy Mine. I mention movies because I saw this story as pictures in my mind. That the author manages to sustain a feeling of suspense and terror for such a large (80-85%) portion of this book is amazing. There are breaks in the tension just when they are needed. There are breaks in the setting, just when they are needed. The focus of this book is very narrow, with the characters in their own world, creating a very intimate rather than epic feel so without the breaks, this could have been stifling. As it is, I felt like I went through everything with them.

Romance is not the point of this book. Finding someone you love and can get along with during one of the worst times of your life is another thing altogether. Sex is also not the point of this book–mostly it is fade to black, or described as a celebration of survival or stress relief as a realistic part of Rook‘s life and circumstances. While there is a HFN/HEA here, it is done in a realistic way consistent with the flavor of the novel as a whole. I am so thankful this author didn’t just slap a bow on it and negate all the work it took to get to the end of this journey. I thought this story was great and complete as it is.

The cover designed by Aisha Akeju is evocative of desolation and beauty. You can clearly tell it is science fiction. I do appreciate the use of the jungle as both reality and allegory.

Buy Links:  Less Than Three Press | Amazon

 

Book Details: ebook
Published February 7th 2018 by Less Than Three Press
ISBN139781684311804
Edition Language: English

 

via A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Rook by T. Strange — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

***Sadly, Less Than Three Press has gone out of business.

Review: Kanaan & Tilney: The Case of the Man-Eater by Jenna Rose and Katey Hawthorne

Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5 

This book is the second in the series and it would help to read them in order, but there is enough subtle recapping to read this alone. The series has a fun modern noir vibe. Be aware they describe brutal murders and this case deals with cannibalism. Lowell is a gruff, cuddly sort. Being a packless wolf shifter and ex-cop makes him a little prickly what with the prejudice and lack of respect the public has for either. Lowell’s boyfriend and business partner is John, pyrokinetic and mystery author. How he manages to not set certain people on fire makes him a better person than me. The series is set in Boston and they serve a diverse praeternatural community. They get hired by a young Terran named Fergus to look into the murder of his Beast (lion shifter) boyfriend Mateo. Lowell’s obnoxious hedgehog-shifter stalker is back to help with the case. The reader gets to see more of John’s friend Macy. I hope she gets to help on a case in the future. The few “good” cops are highlighted as helping them. As with the first book, most of this is “pounding the pavement” to solve the case with brief moments of their life they try to fit in around trying to find the killer and not getting killed.

Soon the bodies start to pile up. The victims being packless allows the opportunity of learning more about werewolf culture and pack structure. The blatant prejudice against packless with an actual hate group was sad. Being packless seems a lot like being shunned and has spiritual implications also. It is against the law for packless to form a pack, so they are afraid to even be friends or gather in groups for anything social or meaningful life events. I definitely want to see some activism on that front in future books.

As always, John is a bundle of energy and much a source of amusement. His complicated relationship with his mother is a source of stress that being with Lowell gives him the strength to deal with. Lowell has the strength to emotionally deal with the way things happen with his mother’s pack thanks to having John. These two are just so cute together and the love scenes are hot, but also emotionally move their relationship forward. I may have unfairly judged the first book because I think I have been reading a lot of science fiction in which the world building is all in the first book like a huge info dump–then I get upset if it’s never used or revisited again. This series works the other way–the world building happens gradually in the stories as more characters are added that the author will revisit again in the future and the reader will learn more about them when the time comes. Overall, I enjoyed this book. As with any P.I. series there will be some cases more interesting than others, but with likable main characters, intriguing side characters, and poignant social commentary to give this unexpected depth, I will continue to read these.

The cover was designed by Aisha Akeju. It matches the first cover in the series and catches that modern noir vibe well, but doesn’t give you much about the story

Sales Links:  Less Than Three Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Book Details: Kindle Edition, 193 pages
Published March 25th 2019 by Less Than Three Press, LLC
ASINB07NRV981M

via A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Kanaan & Tilney: The Case of the Man-Eater by Jenna Rose and Katey Hawthorne — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

***Sadly, Less Than Three Press has gone out of business.

Review: Dangerous Times by Isobelle Winter

Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

This book starts out with a civil war started by King Taen by appropriating the lands of Lord Mavren, making them an enemy. Really there are huge ideological differences between the two and Mavren speaking out against what they see as issues in their society has lead to this. Lord General Aiomonni is the head of King Taen’s military and Lord Mavren’s previous lover. Mavren becomes King of their own rebel Catalyst forces. The reader is thrown into the mind of a Soldiercaste of the Augment Empire during a battle in which they are captured by the enemy. The Augment are a cybernetic species that need organic tissue for digestion, or a host body to assimilate. They are bipedal, yet insectile. This soldier becomes Nact of Quen and the reader will follow them as they raise up in the Catalyst army after their defection. When Nact and Aiomonni engage in battle beyond the charted galaxy to land on a hostile planet, their only hope of survival lies in cooperation, and maybe more.

I would recommend reading an excerpt to see if this book appeals to you. It is written with agender pronouns (ne/nem/nemself/nir). What makes this so compelling is that Nact’s POV shows what freedom and choice look like to someone who’s never had it. It takes six years for Nact to become a general, due to their skills, not because they were born into it. They channel their anger for how their caste was deprived and ill treated into battling King Taen’s forces. By the time they are sent to capture Aiomonni, my sympathies were engaged with them. But for all their privilege, Aiomonni is as much a captive of the system, of convention, as Nact was. The crash shows Aiomonni that their crew have skills beyond their caste. Alive on a populated planet named Colti, being Augment seems more important than their civil war. Showing Aiomonni’s POV makes them extremely sympathetic. At one point they have a common enemy, Plackart, who the author gives a moment of his own: a chance for the reason to see and understand who he is. (I used the he pronoun here although I have no idea if this species is agender also.) This would have been more poignant and heartbreaking than it is, if it had been explored more so my sympathies lay with him also, but that opportunity passes–it is an intellectual scene showing the psychology of his character rather than an emotional scene where I felt his pain and loss.

I feel like the whole book takes the first 25 percent to set-up until they crash land. Then, it gets really interesting. There are so many ethical issues raised throughout the book: the caste system, ruling by fear, being a parasitic race, acceptable behavior during war, what makes a person a person, the parameters of loyalty, etc. This is obviously not a traditional romance. Intimacy is earned by respect or allegiance, but there are layers to the intimacies they grant and even having larvae together doesn’t guarantee anything approximating love. There is never any doubt that these are alien creatures. The sex is completely alien. The sex scenes show aspects of their culture and personal characters as a normal part of life, however, at least for me, they weren’t terribly erotic. This book captures that forbidden feeling of wanting your political enemy whilst being stuck by duty of birth, oaths, and family obligations. This book is so intriguing because the characters are acting honorably–in their own fashion. Their temporary alliance for the greater good allows them to live in a bubble and indulge themselves, but it is temporary and the vanities of others await–continued war still awaits.

I would have liked to get to know some of the other passing characters more. At first I was not sure about the purpose of the character of Feylc, but they become a good foil and I realized it is something I’ve missed in other books as it’s an underutilized tool these days. Still, they are the only other Augment with a real personality here.

I’m not going to say this wasn’t sometimes a little difficult to fully picture, because it was. I’m not going to say the non-binary language wasn’t sometimes confusing (even having read many non-binary characters previously), because it did get awkward in places since the author still uses we and they. What I will say is that for me the effort was worth it. I liked that the world building was character focused and driven without all the extraneous descriptions of things that have no real bearing on the story. There is little attention placed on the various home worlds, which may annoy readers who expect and enjoy that type of detail. While there is tech involved, this is not hard science fiction in any way. The reader is told that things work, not how they work. The end wraps up in a satisfactory way with a (mostly) HEA, although it was startling to be narratively told, like a voice over, after living in the character’s heads for so long. I have to say I really enjoyed this book. If you like things that are different from the norm, give this a try.

The cover was designed by Aisha Akeju. I suppose it shows the ship going through the wormhole. It really isn’t intriguing enough for this book.

Sales Links:  Less Than Three Press | Amazon |  Barnes & Noble
Book Details:
ebook, 214 pages
Published February 15th 2017 by Less Than Three Press
Original Title Dangerous Times
ISBN 1620049554 (ISBN13: 9781620049556)
Edition Language English
Literary Awards Rainbow Award for Best Transgender Debut & for Best Transgender – Sci-Fi / Futuristic, Paranormal Romance, Fantasy & Fantasy Romance (2017)

via A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Dangerous Times by Isobelle Winter — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

***Sadly, Less Than Three Press has gone out of business.

 

Review: Lord Seabolt (Four Families #2) by Megan Derr

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

I think this could be read on its own without missing anything, but the emotional impact would be greater if Finder Tolan was read first. This takes place eighteen years later. Goss is now twenty. His father Tolan is now Master Mage for the Crown. His other father Shaw has retired and teaches basic magic classes. Lords Sealore and Moonrise now have a son named Kerra, whom Goss has an ill advised crush on. Some traumatic event happened three years ago that derailed Goss’ future. His master dismissed him after the incident, so he is no longer an apprentice Binder. He is widely disliked and bullied. Tae Min is a foreign Prince visiting the kingdom for three months for academic lectures, to secure trade, and to arrange marriage contracts for his relatives. The best thing that could happen to Goss, with his infamous origins, powerful noble guardians, and this past event hanging over his head, is for an outsider to see the real him. This is told from Goss’s POV, so the reader’s sympathies will lie with him.

This is a fun short story with a fast romance where everyone gets what’s coming to them. It doesn’t have the detail of the author’s longer works, so I feel like many things could have been added to make this utterly amazing. I felt that way about Finder Tolan as well. But, that’s not fair because that’s not what this is; this is a fairytale you read on a rainy day to cheer you up when you don’t have time to read a novel. It has angst, love, sex, and the villains get their comeuppance. I still want to know what the motto of Seabolt is, so I can only hope there will be another story.

I can’t see where it says who did the cover art. It looks a little modern to me, but shows Goss likely at the Seabolt Palace.

 

Sales Links:  Less Than Three Press | Amazon

Book Details: Kindle Edition, 65 pages
Published January 23rd 2019 by Less Than Three Press, LLC
ASIN B07L7J1SVZ
Edition Language: English
Series: Four Families

 

via A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Lord Seabolt (Four Families #2) by Megan Derr — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Review: The Case of the Arms Dealers (Kanaan & Tilney #1) by Jenna Rose and Katey Hawthorne

Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

This is urban fantasy with Elementals, Beasts, Psychogenics, Necromorphs, and Terrans living alongside humans without them knowing. John Tilney is an author wanting to shadow the PI, Lowell Kanaan, for help with research for a book. Lowell is willing to have a free office assistant, but is slow to let John really be involved with his cases.

Although told Lowell has “gritty, noir-detective glory,” he wasn’t actually physically described for awhile, so he was difficult to picture in the beginning. There is a good description of John as Lowell meets him, but not one of Lowell when the POV is switched. John is guileless, honest, and in some ways socially awkward, but certainly not shy. His directness and persistence seem to usually get him what he wants. He finally figures out he wants Lowell. Although self described as demisexual, he jumped right into sexual attraction with Lowell. The sex scenes are smoking hot. In fact, early on the plot was thin and with those scenes I thought it was just going to be erotic romance. Then, the actual cases start to be interesting.

A man reports his neighbor missing. As they look into his whereabouts, they notice others missing as well. The (supernatural) police aren’t looking into it. In fact, their other client is a women being stalked and the police don’t seem to care about her case either. Lowell is the real hero here, working hard once it’s clear there is something wrong, whether he gets paid or not. As the suspect list gets longer, this is no longer about John writing a book, but finding a killer. John and Lowell have fallen into a work relationship and a romantic relationship easily. When John’s life gets threatened and Lowell gets overprotective, the easy camaraderie falls apart. John’s contacts have helped with the case, but he’s not a PI. Lowell, as a former cop, is now unsure how to make this work. They use actual words to work it out–yay for communication!

The side characters aren’t really fleshed out yet: like John’s mother or his neighbor Macy, and Lowell’s friend Mina. The Zombie Mafia boss Tony was interesting, as was his right hand person, Serafina. There is also very little made of the fact Lowell is a Beast (lupine) and John is a Psychogenic (pyrokinetic). I’m hoping the next book expands these characters and shows us more about the praeternatural factions. I ended up enjoying this and wanted to know more about everything. This is a very good first book in a series and the guys are adorable together.

The cover was designed by Aisha Akeju. It’s striking and a clever play on “pounding the pavement” to look for clues, noirish but with color. The zombie hand made me laugh.

Sales Links:  Less Than Three Press | Amazon

Book Details: Kindle Edition, 204 pages
Published January 15th 2019 by Less Than Three Press, LLC (first published October 27th 2015)
ASIN B07MTY62FD
Edition Language: English
Series: Kanaan & Tilney

via A Chaos Moondrawn Review: The Case of the Arms Dealers (Kanaan & Tilney #1) by Jenna Rose and Katey Hawthorne — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Review: Broken Alpha (The Alpha/Omega Verse #1) by D.C. Juris

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Korden finds out his brother Rennett has been found alive after being missing for a year. They had searched for Rennett’s trail after he went missing, but it had gone cold. Korden’s suffered the loss of access to his sibling link, which is limited by distance. His friends and crewmates Sebastian and Sorkel have helped him survive by linking with him in his mindscape. The trust and loving friendship has been a balm to the Captain. Sebastian is a Creole Human and Sorkel is Malorcian. They have been mates for 10 years. Sorkel is the ship’s doctor and Sebastian is the ship’s navigator. Korden will need them more than ever when Rennett is found with permanent physical and mental damage suffered whilst in captivity. There have been Alphas who went mad and reverted to beta or omega status before.

I have read about communication between mindscapes and visible bonds before, but I feel like this was very original in the details. Controlling the mind link with someone is complicated. Obviously eveyone’s mindscape is different. I loved the idea of memories in different boxes, marked by color as accessible or off limits. There are also different colors for the links. I enjoyed the bonding ceremony that changed Korden and Kennett’s bond from siblings to mates; they merge their mindscapes, share memories, and partially heal Renny. But, he’s not completely healed and may never be. The angst of dealing with a mentally ill loved one is difficult for Korden and their friends.

This story is very well done so that I felt the love and bond were already there and mean to be–like all of this was inevitable. Tortured physically and mentally, with permanent damage to his body and mind, no one would take Kennet as a mate. He needs a mate now that he is an omega and may have heats. His mind is already unstable and he’ll need an anchor to help moor him. As Kordan tries to keep Rennent calm, all these memories of their childhood flow through them. It’s clear Rennent has only ever been bonded with Kordan, that they likely would never have mated with anyone else. It is very clear that this is everything Renny has ever wanted, and is done with his consent. Although, it’s also clear due to his status and situation, it could have been done without his consent also. Having Renny’s POV is vital to making this whole book work. Mating links between siblings only seem to be taboo for Alphas of their status, but not unheard of in the rest of the general population on their planet.

Since Renny will need full time care, the four of them move in together on Presidian. Rennent feels overwhelmed that everyone is giving up space travel and changing their careers for him. The author makes it plain that the shared love and need for family drives them all together. With Sorkel being a healer, and having already established trust with Korden and Renny, this also seems meant to be. I should be clear that these are two mated couples who are friends and (at least in this first book) there is no sharing. All of this is well established before Renny experiences his first heat near the end of the book. I feel like this was all a natural progression. By the time it sinks into the start of a power exchange, it seems inevitable. But this hurts Kordan as it’s not in his nature and Renny is terrified his needs will be too much for Kordan. The thing that holds this whole book together is the love and communication between them. So many books use lack of communication as the obstacle. While it’s difficult to be vulnerable and share completely with someone, it’s necessary to explain why particular emotions exist–yes, even when these couples can be in each other’s minds. While this book is complete and could stop here, it does say book one and I have to admit to wanting to see them work out all of their doubts and fears and be more stable and settled. Also, there are other species and worlds to explore, not to mention politics and trade agreements. With Kordan now an Ambassador, there could be more adventures.

The cover was designed by Aisha Akeju. I would guess this is Rennett. While the stars communicate space travel and the inner turmoil as Rennett battles his shame at what has happened to him, and the birth of stars are like a new beginning…I still feel Korden should have been on the cover too. They are a unit.

Sales Links:  Less Than Three Press | Amazon

Book Details: ebook, Second Edition
Published January 9th 2019 by Less Than Three Press, LLC (first published January 16th 2016)
ISBN 139781684314126
Edition Language: English
Series: The Alpha/Omega Verse

via A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Broken Alpha (The Alpha/Omega Verse #1) by D.C. Juris — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Boxing Day Sales 2018

SOME OF THESE SALES END TODAY SO PLEASE READ THE DATES.


Here is a list of authors that have books on sale TODAY provided by R.J. Scott:

http://rjscott.co.uk/boxing-day-sale-2018


 

DSP Holiday 2018 sale

Dreamspinner Press, Harmony Ink Press, and DSP Publications are still having their Holiday sale through December 28th.


 

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JMS Books has a sale that ends TODAY on with 50% off ebooks and $8 paperbacks.


 

HolidayMadness Enspire Sale 2018

Enspire Publications has ebooks 25-50% off until December 30th. Click coupon box in cart at check-out or enter: HolidayMadness2018.


 

extasy books sale 2018

Extasy Books and Devine Destinies is having a sale until December 31st.


 

Anna Butler has put her Taking Shield series on sale for 25% off, on Smashwords only, until January First. The first book is free to suck you in.


Kris Ripper has put her Queers of La Vista series on sale for .99 each until New Years.

GAYS OF OUR LIVES: https://books2read.com/u/3kravg

THE BUTCH AND THE BEAUTIFUL: https://books2read.com/u/4Ey6xz

THE QUEER AND THE RESTLESS: https://books2read.com/u/b625kE

ONE LIFE TO LOSE: http://books2read.com/u/mVBorM

AS LA VISTA TURNS: https://books2read.com/u/mvKk5j


 

Mischief Corner Books has all holiday books published before this year on sale until December 31st.


 

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Less Than Three Press has 20% off all books including on pre-orders and a contest that runs through December 31st.

Review: Diplomacy Squared By Sydney Blackburn

Diplomacy Squared Cover
Cover designed by Aisha Akeju

Diego has been the Captain/Fold Pilot on the commercial starliner Caravan for the last four years. Nineteen months ago humans made first contact with a humanoid species called Antho. Diplomats and scientists have been sent to live and work on the space station Mikesi orbiting their world Beresh. Upon arrival, he finds out they are to be posted there indefinitely and he and his crew are encouraged to interact with the Antho so they can get to know regular humans. There is a whole lot of getting to know each other.

The first problem is communication as the station Administrator, Portya, doesn’t have the best grasp of the Earth language, Syncrete, and humans apparently have a hard time learning how the Antho communicate since they have a complex nonverbal component of their language. Diego and Portya jump into sex without even understanding the differences in their species and cultures.

The book blurb says it all so there’s not really spoilers to worry about. This book is all about the telling and how well that’s done. I have to say, I think it’s done pretty well. The author starts out with everyone more formal in work situations, but once we start to see some of the characters on downtime, and Diego and Portya start dating, everything is more relaxed. We see a few other Earth and Antho characters, but this is mainly about our two MCs. There is some subtext going on: Portya’s public displays of affection are not making the other Antho happy. They encounter some prejudice from both sides about their relationship–either they want salacious details or are disgusted.

When Portya gets sick, Diego is kept away, unsure of what is going on. By the time everything is figured out, Diego reacts very badly. He thought he was in a relationship with a male, so he feels tricked and upset. We are dealing with aliens who are nonbinary–this could easily read as Portya being a hermaphrodite or a transgendered person. Although sexual orientation is not discussed per se, other Antho seem to be pansexual. They do not have gender pronouns on Beresh and have settled on the pronoun he in regards to Syncrete language for dealing with humans.

As I have previously stated, I am not a fan of mpreg. This was so sweet that by the end, I was just happy about it all. We get the wedding and all the feels. The epilogue does contain the birth, so I did have to read about a baby, but I came out unscathed.

I would rate this 4 stars.

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Author’s Website