Category Archives: dystopian

Iron and Ether (Blessed Epoch #3) Gus Li

                      ✨REVIEWED BY: Patricia Nelson

TITLE: Iron and Ether

SERIES: Blessed Epoch Book 3

AUTHOR: Gus Li

PUBLISHER: DSP Publications 

RELEASE DATE: June 23, 2015

BLURB:Sasha was born to, and has always defined himself by, the secret assassins’ Order of the Crimson Scythe. He chose the love of Yarrow L’Estrella and Duncan Purefoy over his duty to his clan, forfeiting his last mission and allowing Prince Garith to live. Now, the order-previously Sasha’s family-has branded him a traitor. He’s marked, and that means the brethren of the Crimson Scythe won’t stop until Sasha is dead.
Garith’s twin kingdoms balance on the brink of war, and all three men have reasons to help the king, whether loyalty, duty, the interests of their own lands, or gold in their pockets. Still, Yarrow and Duncan are willing to abandon their reasons to seek out and destroy the assassins’ order to keep Sasha safe. But Sasha isn’t sure that’s what he wants. Loyalties are strained by both foreign invaders and conspirators in their midst. It’s hard to know which side to choose with threats piling up from every direction and war looming, inevitable, on the horizon. Their world teeters on the precipice of change, and Sasha, Duncan, and Yarrow can only hope the links they’ve forged will hold if Garith’s kingdom is torn apart.

REVIEW: Well, things haven’t settled down any since Book 2. If anything, the situation is even more chaotic than ever! Yarrow and Duncan are at their wits’ end with worry about the threat the Crinsom Scythe pose to Sasha, and Sasha’s indecisiveness isn’t helping any! I’ve been addicted to this sweeping saga since the very first book, and the journey has gotten even better in this awesome book. Gus Li is a master wordsmith, painting a vivid, compelling world where the characters are three dimensional, complex, and I feel like I almost know them as my friends. I DEFINITELY recommend this facinating tale to everyone, and suggest that you start with reading the first two books in this gripping series in order to really appreciate just how great it is. I can’t wait to get my hands on the next book, and am looking forward to many happy hours of reading.

RATING: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Amazon

DSP Publications 

 

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Dog Days by TA Moore Guest Post and Giveaway

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Buy the Book: Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dog-Days-TA-Moore/dp/1634775767/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1471891004&sr=8-1&keywords=dog+days+a+moore
Dreamspinner: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/dog-days-by-ta-moore-7489-b

Blurb
The world ends not with a bang, but with a downpour. Tornadoes spin through the heart of London, New York cooks in a heat wave that melts tarmac, and Russia freezes under an ever-thickening layer of permafrost. People rally at first—organizing aid drops and evacuating populations—but the weather is only getting worse.
In Durham, mild-mannered academic Danny Fennick has battened down to sit out the storm. He grew up in the Scottish Highlands, so he’s seen harsh winters before. Besides, he has an advantage. He’s a werewolf. Or, to be precise, a weredog. Less impressive, but still useful.
Except the other werewolves don’t believe this is any ordinary winter, and they’re coming down over the Wall to mark their new territory. Including Danny’s ex, Jack—the Crown Prince Pup of the Numitor’s pack—and the prince’s brother, who wants to kill him.
A wolf winter isn’t white. It’s red as blood.

Cover Artist: Anne Cain

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In my novel Dog Days, ‘the world ends not with a bang, but a downpour’. It’s the opening days of a frost-covered dystopia, and I had so much fun with it. As a writer, I love dystopias. I think there is no better way to expose the architecture of a society than how it collapses under stress. It’s not the only thing I write, but creatively I definitely veer more towards the dystopian than the utopian. Let’s be honest, I’m Northern Irish and my family’s motto is ‘we laugh at bad things’, I wouldn’t know what to DO with myself in a utopia.

Other than probably get kicked out for bad behaviour.

Dystopias have so much more scope to wallow in, so many more questions to answer. Is it survival to keep on breathing, or to hold onto the encultured morals of the world before? Can you justify morality in a world where those depending on you pay the price for your values? Flee to the hills to hermit your way through the bad days, or hunker down and go tribal in your suburbs?

Of course, part of the reason I love dystopias is that I am never going to see one. Not because I have any great faith in things turning out for the best, but because I’d be one of the first to die. Probably not in the first or second wave of deaths, but after that I’d be done for.

First wave of deaths in an apocalyptic/dystopian scenario are going to be down to trauma: zombie attacks, injuries, totalitarian soldiers, corn weevil bites. I live in a small town with no majorly attractive assets to seize, so it’s likely I’ll avoid that. I mean, I might not but I think the odds are in my favour as far as digging in and weathering the storm here.

Second wave is probably going to be medical. People with long-term medical conditions that depend on machinery or drugs to maintain their lives/mobility will start to die off here. Diabetics, for example, or people dependent on dialysis. As access to treatment/hospitals gets more difficult, they’ll fall by the wayside. I’ll still be ok at that point, but I will have lost family members (we are not a healthy people).

So, barring bad luck, I’ll more likely than not to weather the first few months. After that, though? It’s not looking good. I’m short-sighted to the point of being helpless if my glasses are stolen or damaged, I have asthma so a brisk run through a field might well kill me, and I have food allergies that will make scavenging more difficult for me.

Plus, I’m just generally not hardy. I have limited survival skills — I mean, I have a huge stash of survival hints and tips in the cloud, but can I depend on internet access at this point? — and I’m not good in stressful situations. You know the way people are meant to have fight, flight, or freeze instincts? I’ve just got flight. I was once caught rearranging a neighbour’s gnomes into a ‘signalling the mothership’ shape, and — despite the fact I was a: staring right at the man, and b: my house was right behind me — I ran down the street and hid in a bush.

That’s not going to cut it when the corn weevils come, is it? Inner gerbil instinct like that are great in the first wave, but eventually you need to stand your ground.

I figure I have a few months of dystopian experience in me, just the overture of it. Once things start to really fall apart, my general lack of fitness to survive in this situation will demonstrate itself. Unless it’s a very cosy dystopia, I will mouldering in a shallow grave before people even start debating the ethics of cannibalism.

Which kind of makes me feel like a bit of an under-achiever. At least two of my friends are probably going to be warlords at that point, through a mixture of organisational skills, the willingness to field dress dead things, and sheer bloody-mindedness. So I make up for it with my own controlled dystopias, spreading lurgy and ice across the world and writing characters that are far, far better suited to deal with it than me.

Trust me, Dog Days Jack and Danny are much better at dealing with the various indignities of the end of the world than I am.

———————————-

Bio:

TA Moore genuinely believed that she was a Cabbage Patch Kid when she was a small child. This was the start of a lifelong attachment to the weird and fantastic. These days she lives in a market town on the Northern Irish coast and her friends have a rule that she can only send them three weird and disturbing links a month (although she still holds that a DIY penis bifurcation guide is interesting, not disturbing). She believes that adding ‘in space!’ to anything makes it at least 40% cooler, will try to pet pretty much any animal she meets (this includes snakes, excludes bugs), and once lied to her friend that she had climbed all the way up to Tintagel Castle in Cornwall, when actually she’d only gotten to the beach, realized it was really high, and chickened out.

She aspires to being a cynical misanthrope, but is unfortunately held back by a sunny disposition and an inability to be mean to strangers. If TA Moore is mean to you, that means you’re friends now.

Website: http://www.nevertobetold.co.uk
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TA.Moores
Twitter: @tammy_moore

Dog Days Blog Tour Dates

September 2 – The Novel Approach
September 4 – MM Good Book Reviews –
September 5 – Oh My Shelves
September 6 – Joyfully Jay
September 7 – It’s About the Book
September 8 – Molly Lolly and Kimi-Chan Experience
September 9 – Prism Book Alliance
September 11 – Love Bytes Reviews
September 13 – Boy Meets Boy

Giveaway!

For a chance to win a $20 Dreamspinner Gift Card, simply leave a comment telling us what you like most about m/m science fiction and/or urban fantasy!

Withered + Sere Tour with Guest Post by TJ Klune

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The Joys of Crack and Dust
Or,
Why I went Apocalyptic

I did something no one else has ever done.
I wrote a book set in a post-apocalyptic future.
I know, I know.
You’re in awe.
Tj! you’re thinking. How did you come up with such a novel idea?
And therein lies the problem.
Post-apocalyptic, dystopian futures, all of this has been done before. It’s like that saying goes, that there’s nothing new under the sun. Tropes are tropes for a reason. Look at The Hunger Games. Look at the video game series Fallout. Look at Mad Max. Or I Am Legend. Or The 100. Or Book of Eli. Dawn of the Dead. Battle Royale. The Road (which, if you haven’t read this book by Cormac McCarthy, do it. It’s one of the best things ever). 28 Days Later. The Stand (Stephen King’s best work, in my opinion). Resident Evil. The Last of Us.
Whether it be nuclear bombs, or disease, or zombies, or humanity’s rage, the world falls, civilization crumbles, and we are left with little pockets of humanity across a scarred landscape who are usually embroiled in a battle against Forces of Evil (i.e. new government, old government, crazy motherfuckers, zombies, crazy motherfucking zombies).
So it’s all be done before. It really, really has.
And here I was, a writer of cracky man love who sometimes who could write angst, comedy, drama, and who occasionally dabbled into something darker. Here I was, thinking, okay, but if it’s all been done before, could I actually do something that was any different?
I knew, going into writing Withered + Sere, that it was going to be a massive undertaking. This world I created would be large, and would be populated by good people and evil people, and people whose moral compasses were firmly planted in the gray. I also knew going into it, that the only way I’d actually be able to do this post-apocalyptic story would be if I could put my own unique spin on it.
Let’s be real. There are people out there who’ve written stories about the end of the world that are far better writers than I could ever hope to be. I know this. I understand this. I don’t know if I could ever even be even remotely close to their level. But it didn’t stop me from trying.
I wanted to see what happened if I ended the world. If civilization did crumble, if billions of people did die, what would I do with what remained? Would I have anything new to add?
I think I did. I hoped I did. I don’t mean that to sound conceited or self-involved, either. Honestly. Given that this was so far from anything I’d ever done before, I knew that I needed to end the world in a way that was distinctly Klune but not devolving into the crack that I’m known to write. The dialogue here is sparse because the main character, Cavalo, doesn’t like to talk much. He doesn’t want to talk much. The other main character, Lucas, can’t talk, given some mysterious injury he’d sustained sometime in the past.
I love dialogue. I love writing people talking and snarking back and forth.
I love it so much, that to make this story different than anything I’d done before, I didn’t allow myself to fall back into the slinging of words. By taking away one character’s ability to speak at all, it forced me to find other ways to communicate, to relay the story without the crutch of vocalizing my point. And I did, though it was in ways I wasn’t expecting when I first started, and I like to think it adds another layer to the story, that it leaves it up to the reader to decide if Cavalo is actually having the conversations he thinks he’s having, or if it’s just a product of his imagination, that he’s getting response he’s thinking he should get.
And, of course, there’s the end of the world. The landscape, the remains of what once was. When you have a post-apocalyptic story, one of the most important characters you can have is the landscape. Is there the futuristic sheen of a dystopian society? Or is there the grunge and grime of a ravaged society?
I wanted to go with the grunge and the grime. I wanted to get motherfucking dirty in this book. By the time the W+S and its sequel, Crisped + Sere, are finished, I wanted the reader to feel the dirt under their fingernails, the dust in their throat. The setting is as important as the main characters, because if the setting isn’t believable, then it runs the risk of ruining the story as a whole.
I had fun with this, creating this dirty, dirty world. The landscape is dotted with hints of the past, from burn out husks of cars and billboards for personal injury attorneys, to the way the people who remain live their lives.
And that, to me, is the crux of these two books. The reader is told at the beginning that a hundred years have passed since the world ended. The idea that I couldn’t shake while writing this would be how would those people live their lives? Would they act completely different than we do today? Or would they still cling to what they’d been taught by those who came before them? We are ingrained with years on how a human being should act. I find it fascinating to think about how people would attempt to go on with business as usual, even if they don’t necessarily understand why they think that. It’s what they were taught by those who came before them. Those people were taught by those who came before them, and those are the ones that lived and loved in a bright and shiny world, and they passed down their traditions and mannerisms, and I think that those things would continue, even after the world ended. We act as we were taught. Yes, we learn from new experiences, but we are still human, and there are centuries of life before us that we draw from. We do the things we do because we were taught how to do them, even if we don’t realize it.
So. I hope you’re ready to get down and dirty with me. Because we’re about to crawl through the mud.

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Withered + Sere Blurb:
Once upon a time, humanity could no longer contain the rage that swelled within, and the world ended in a wave of fire.

One hundred years later, in the wasteland formerly known as America, a broken man who goes only by the name of Cavalo survives. Purposefully cutting himself off from what remains of civilization, Cavalo resides in the crumbling ruins of the North Idaho Correctional Institution. A mutt called Bad Dog and a robot on the verge of insanity comprise his only companions. Cavalo himself is deteriorating, his memories rising like ghosts and haunting the prison cells.

It’s not until he makes the dangerous choice of crossing into the irradiated Deadlands that Cavalo comes into contact with a mute psychopath, one who belongs to the murderous group of people known as the Dead Rabbits. Taking the man prisoner, Cavalo is forced not only to face the horrors of his past, but the ramifications of the choices made for his stark present. And it is in the prisoner that he will find a possible future where redemption is but a glimmer that darkly shines.

The world has died.

This is the story of its remains.

Available at:
Dreamspinner Press Publications: https://www.dsppublications.com/books/withered-sere-by-tj-klune-240-b

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Withered-Sere-Immemorial-Year-Book-ebook/dp/B01DL351LU

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/withered-sere-tj-klune/1123602027?ean=2940157776459

Withered + Sere Blog Tour:
April 12 – MM Good Book Reviews
April 13- My Fiction Nook
April 18 – Just Love Romance
April 19 – Divine Magazine
April 19 – Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
April 19 – The Novel Approach
April 20 – Kimi-chan Experience
April 21 – It’s About the Book
April 21 – Love Bytes
April 22 – Prism Book Alliance

When TJ Klune was eight, he picked up a pen and paper and began to write his first story (which turned out to be his own sweeping epic version of the video game Super Metroid—he didn’t think the game ended very well and wanted to offer his own take on it. He never heard back from the video game company, much to his chagrin). Now, over two decades later, the cast of characters in his head have only gotten louder. But that’s okay, because he’s recently become a full-time writer, and can give them the time they deserve.
Since being published, TJ has won the Lambda Literary Award for Best Gay Romance, fought off three lions that threatened to attack him and his village, and was chosen by Amazon as having written one of the best GLBT books of 2011.
And one of those things isn’t true.
(It’s the lion thing. The lion thing isn’t true.)
Facebook: TJ Klune
Blog: tjklunebooks.blogspot.com
E-mail: tjklunebooks@yahoo.com

Blood and Ink by Jack Bridges with Excerpt and Giveaway

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Excerpt:
Clouds rolled in, white and puffy in the winter blue sky, but there was no moisture in the air, or in the sand beneath Annie’s bare feet.

“Rain?” Annie asked hopefully, and Grandma shook her head and looked sad.

Annie knew why. Without the potatoes and beans from the garden, without the lupins and sunflower seeds, all they’d have to live on would be gruel. There’d been no rain for months, even though the days were short and the nights cold, and it was nearly time for the summer to come back.

“Gruel will make us sick,” Annie said. “Will the government make rain?”

Grandma swore, something vicious and rude, under her breath. Annie was made sure to remember the word, because it was a new word and Annie collected those words.

They stood, studying the empty clouds over their heads while the chickens fought over the scraps, and even in the middle of winter the sun still hurt Annie’s bare arms.

“What did you use to do to make rain?” Annie asked Grandma. “Before?” Grandma knew things that everyone else had forgotten, and she didn’t go to church. “Is there magic?”

Annie had to whisper that, because Mum was a Believer, and she’d shout or pray or something if she thought Annie knew about magic.

The rainwater tank leaned against the back wall of the house. Grandma shuffled over and whacked it with her cane. The metal drum rang loudly.

“There’s magic,” Grandma said.

Sales Links: http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=200&products_id=4414

About the author:

Jack Bridges is a writer and academic who lives in Perth, Western Australia, and works at a small university teaching students the basics of research methodology. He sometimes hides in a shack in the forest and makes complex plans for surviving environmental apocalypses.

Where to find the author:

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jack-Bridges/463367120505003
Website: http://www.jacklanebridges.com
Other: http://www.redbubble.com/people/jackbridges

Goodreads Link:
Publisher: Torquere Press
Cover Artist: BSClay

Final

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Altered by Annabelle Jacobs Blog Tour

TheAltered-fMy new book, The Altered,  was released yesterday. Its a paranormal romance, set twenty years after a laboratory pathogen contaminated the UK water supply.

The two main characters, Daniel and Jordan, both moved to London for the anonymity of a big city, but their lives are very different.

Daniel lives with his best mate, Matt, who he’s known since childhood, and Ash. He’s suspicious by nature as a result of the change, and his treatment by other altereds has left him bitter.
When I started writing this story I had a vague image of what I wanted him to look like. He has silver-blond hair as a result of being altered, sort of like Spike from Buffy, but taller and with less pronounced cheekbones. Although I love Spike, I pictured Daniel as more of a young-ish Leonardo Dicaprio.

Jordan’s whole being was affected by the change. The pathogen not only increased his strength, but his senses as well. He’s fiercely loyal, but possessive–although he tries hard not to come across as overbearing and controlling.
Jordan is dangerous if crossed, but is also someone who can be trusted without question if you were on his side. The guy on the cover for this book is pretty much what I was going for, and Natasha Snow did a great job with it 🙂

Buy links

Amazon US

http://www.amazon.com/Altered-Annabelle-Jacobs-ebook/dp/B00VGAAY2C/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Amazon UK

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Altered-Annabelle-Jacobs-ebook/dp/B00VGAAY2C/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

All Romance ebooks

https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-thealtered-1773324-145.html

Barnes and Noble 

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-altered-annabelle-jacobs/1121657605?ean=2940151843713

Smashwords

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/531563

Excerpt:

He laughed at the joke Matt was in the middle of telling, chipping in for a bit and teasing him, and then he felt it again, creeping up the back of his spine like icy fingers. Daniel stayed perfectly still, suppressing his body’s natural reaction, and carefully turned to place his empty pint glass on the bar.
He let his gaze wander along to the end of the bar, past the couple he’d spotted earlier, and—
Bloody Hell.
He sucked in a sharp breath before he could stop himself. Usually he got a flash of images, depending on how much they’d been altered—claws, teeth, and fur if they changed fully, but never anything like this. One minute Daniel was looking at a tall dark-haired, really hot man, and in the blink of an eye he’d changed into a huge black wolf, fangs bared in a snarl—clearer than anything he’d seen before.
The image vanished almost as soon as it appeared, and the noise from the bar suddenly jarred Daniel back to his senses.
Fuck.

Blurb:

Twenty years ago the UK’s water supply was contaminated with an experimental pathogen, Lycanaeris, causing widespread panic across the nation. Terrorism was suspected but never proven, and when nothing happened–no epidemic, no unexplained illnesses–the whole episode was written off as an elaborate hoax. But Lycanaeris was selective. Only those of a certain age, and with a specific gene in their DNA were infected. Time would reveal the pathogen’s true nature, when those susceptible grew up Altered.

Daniel is one of thousands forced to hide his altered status by living a quiet life. He’s not like the others, though. Daniel can’t help looking so distinctive or being able to see every altered for what they really are. To those abducting altereds, that skill makes him valuable.

For Jordan, shifting from human to wolf means living under the radar to avoid unwanted attention. Meeting Daniel complicates matters. Daniel’s existence is a threat to Jordan and his friends, but Jordan can’t seem to shake the strange connection between them. When danger threatens, there’s little time for Daniel and Jordan to work out their feelings before lives are at stake.

Annabelle_Jacobs_logoAuthor Bio

Annabelle Jacobs lives in the South West of England with her husband, three rowdy children, and two cats.

An avid reader of fantasy herself for many years, Annabelle now spends her days writing her own stories. They’re usually either fantasy or paranormal fiction, because she loves building worlds filled with magical creatures, and creating stories full of action and adventure. Her characters may have a tough time of it—fighting enemies and adversity—but they always find love in the end.

Author Links

Twitter – https://twitter.com/AJacobs_fiction

Website – http://www.annabellejacobs.com

Email – ajacobsfiction@gmail.com

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/ajacobsfiction

Giveaway:

Leave a comment on this blog post for a chance to win an ebook from Annabelle’s backlist!

Who Knows the Storm Audiobook (The Vigilante #1) By Tere Michaels Narrated by Jonathan Young

Dreamspinner Presents: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6198

WhoKnowsTheStormAUDMed
Blurb

In a dystopian near future, New York City has become the epicenter of decadence—gambling, the flesh trade, a playground for the wealthy. And underneath? Crime, fueled by “Dead Bolt,” a destructive designer drug. This New City is where Nox Boyet leads a double life. At night, he is the Vigilante, struggling to keep the streets safe for citizens abandoned by the corrupt government and police. During the day, he works in construction and does his best to raise his adopted teenaged son, Sam.

A mysterious letter addressed to Sam brings Nox in direct contact with “model” Cade Creel, a high-end prostitute working at the Iron Butterfly Casino. Suspicion gives way to an intense attraction as dark figures from Nox’s past and the mysterious peddlers of Dead Bolt begin to descend—and put all their lives in danger. When things spin out of control, Cade is the only person Nox can trust to help him save Sam.

Review
(Book reviewed previously on this site)
Nox is a vigilante in dystopian New York after a massive flood has left the big Apple in ruins. He has a “son” that he cares about above all else and a desire for justice.

Cade is a “model”/rent boy who ends up bringing a letter to Nox’s son, Sam, and getting involved with Sam and Nox in a dangerous game where things aren’t as they seem.

The end is sort of a cliff hanger – so be warned – that hopefully leads us to the next book.
**
It took me forever to get through this book because I love Tere Michaels but I’m just not a big fan of the dystopian future storyline. So take this review with a grain of salt and here are my impressions:

1) Tere Michaels is a great writer who writes fantastic, gritty, sensual characters with a lot of depth
2) Even her secondary characters are fully developed and engaging
3) The smexy times in this story are hot – another of Michael’s skills
4) This is a little different than the previous books I’ve read by her in that it is more dark and lies more heavily on the non-romance/thriller portion of the story
5) Sometimes the story was twisty, turny and confusing to me, but it leaves a lot of potential for future segments in the series.

Audio

Jonathan Young is a new narrator for me, but he has won me over! I really, really enjoyed his narration here. He does a sweetly southern accent for Cade and a nice dark growl for Nox. He differentiates nicely the other voices as well and did a truly amazing job with the smexy scenes. Even though the story is still very dark and not exactly my cup of tea, I really enjoyed the passion in the narration and enjoyed listening to the story despite the darkness.

This narration absolutely added to my enjoyment of the story and bumps my rating up to a 4.5 of 5 hearts.

4.5

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Meatworks by Jordan Castillo Price 

JCP Publishing Presents:

http://jordancastilloprice.com/

meatworksBlurb

Desmond Poole is damaged in more ways than one.

If he was an underachiever before, he’s entirely useless now that he’s lost his right hand. He spends his time drowning his sorrows in vodka while he deliberately blows off the training that would help him master his new prosthetic. Social Services seems determined to try and stop him from wallowing in his own filth, so he’s forced to attend an amputee support group. He expects nothing more than stale cookies, tepid decaf and a bunch of self-pitying sob stories, so he’s blindsided when a fellow amputee catches his eye.

Corey Steiner is a hot young rudeboy who works his robotic limb like an extension of his own body, and he’s smitten by Desmond’s crusty punk rock charm from the get-go. Unfortunately, Desmond hasn’t quite severed ties with his ex-boyfriend, and Corey isn’t known for his maturity or patience.

Meatworks is set in a bleak near-future where cell phone and personal computer technologies never developed. In their place, robotics flourished. Now robots run everything from cars to coffee pots. Taking the guesswork out of menial tasks was intended to create leisure time, but instead robots have made society dependent and passive.

Desmond loathes robots and goes out of his way to avoid them. But can he survive without the robotic arm strapped to the end of his stump?

Review
(Posted on previous site.)

First I had to look up “rude boy” as a term – the urban dictionary defines it basically : [rude boys and girls] “were developed by the first ska bands to mimic the depression(or) post war gansters of america. The word ‘Rude’ is refrenced to Jamaican culture where it is slang for mischevious or obscene.” And that, my friends does really define our friend Corey. But in a totally sweet way. He is a bit like a mischievous boy, not out to hurt anyone, but not up to a heck of a lot of “good works” either.

Desmond, on the other hand is kind of the quintessential “slacker”. He’s not your typical romantic hero by any stretch of the imagination. But I think that’s kind of the point. This isn’t really your typical romance. In fact, some my argue that it isn’t a romance at all. This might influence your decision to read it, but let me tell you this much – romance or not, it’s a great book.

JCP is an amazing author who always produces detailed, rich, full, three-dimensional characters who (many times) lead ordinary lives in an extraordinary way. This book is full of texture and subtext, and is (no pun intended) meaty. And, though it may not quite fulfill the most die-hard romantic souls out there, it is definitely romantic and really, quite hopeful at the end.

Mostly this is a book about Desmond’s growth as a person and as a person with a “disability”. He loses his hand in a stupid accident with his “buddies” and struggles with accepting the new prosthetic limb he is given. In JCP’s book, the world of robotics has advanced and more or less taken over life as we know it. Not quite a dystopian future, but futuristic with a bit of darkness. Desmond rejects robotics, including his new arm, which is robotic. As a result, he doesn’t really do much of anything – except drink a lot and look at his sea monkeys. He’s been dumped by his social worker boyfriend for keeping up too many walls and isn’t really looking to replace him.

Part of Desmond’s contingencies for collecting disability pay from the government hinges on him going to a support group. Since he doesn’t want to/can’t work anymore, he goes along with the program, and ends up meeting Corey, another “gimp” who lost his hand in an industrial accident.

There is somewhat instant attraction between the two and a small love story progresses from this first meeting through the final pages, but it is not really the main thrust of the story, and though it definitely ends at least HFN, you don’t quite get a bunch of warm fuzzies from it, but you’re not sad either.

Most of what makes this book so damn good is the care that JCP uses in moving Desmond along on his “woe is me” life style and how he manages to confront a bunch of demons, both before the accident, during his relationship with the social worker and after through the mistakes he makes with Corey.

The language and metaphors JCP uses to tell this story is so evocative and stirring. They way she uses Desmond’s arm as an analogy for both literally and figuratively coming to grips with his life is excellent. The phrasing is gritty and humorous and pulls you right into the story. I highlighted tons of this book – so much of JCP’s words say one thing, but tell so much of the story, in a different way.

Some examples:

“Exact same egg we had in Health Class,” Corey said. “I’ve heard some of the new models have a diaper button, too.”
“Just what the world needs. Robotic shit.”

Desmond’s words definitely have more meaning than the sarcastic humor he displays for Corey here.

He tilted his head and studied my bare neck – which was a weird shade of gray/green where the nickel of the old hardware chain had rested against the skin all these years. Funny, how I never realized how bad it was until I popped the lock and watched the chain slide off. It probably wasn’t a permanent stain, but only time would tell.

I think JCP is using the chain in this section to mean so much more than the actual removal of an old piece of jewelry. It could mean his old way of life, his old relationship, his old body… And like the stain on his neck, really, only time will tell how much has truly changed.

I found Desmond’s relationship with Jim to be fascinating. Was he good with Desmond, certainly not, but could he have been? I don’t know. Is Corey the best guy for Desmond? Again, I don’t know. But is he the best guy for him right now. Definitely. I remember how Corey related to the robotic egg and I think – yeah, there is a ton of potential here and if Desmond can grow with Corey, the two could really be an amazing couple.

On one hand, I would really love to follow up with these guys and see where they go together. But on the other hand, I kind of like being able to make that future up for myself. In the end notes, JCP does not suggest there will be more of these guys (at least not planned) so I don’t know if we will see them again. But, that’s ok. This is a complete story, with an ending that really does satisfy. Yes, it would be great to read more about them (like any good book), but I think we are left where they had to be left. Happy enough. Working on life together, for now. Still not perfect, but much better together than apart.

On a final note – there is a bit near the end that I just loved, the part with the magic marker and the polaroid picture and Corey’s response to it. So graceful, funny, sweet and sexy too. (You’ll know what I’m talking about when you read it.) Fabulous!

I definitely recommend this book – 5 of 5 hearts – it’s not as romantic some romances you might find, but it has so much heart. The writing is brilliant and – as usual – JCP’s cover is AMAZING!

5

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Fairytales for Modern Queers by Emily Reed

Dreamspinner Presents:  http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5996fairy tales

Blurb

Gay teenager Hart could finish his fairy tale for class if his horrible stepsiblings would stop harassing him. Talia’s depression is like a sleeping curse and may kill her if she doesn’t ask for help. Independent, overweight bisexual Sienna deals with her “nice guy” neighbor while visiting her grandmother. When a mysterious girl climbs up Rachael’s fire escape, Rachael might finally break free from her overprotective mother. Transgender Amelia is bullied regularly for her identity, but she’ll show everyone exactly who she is. Princess Rellyn must face down a dragon since she’s seventh in line and battle her father since she’s not a boy, and she’s not sure which one is scarier. An adventurous knight whisks away genderfluid Noll when all they want is a quiet life on their farm. Mermaid Astrid wants revenge on the man who betrayed her, but is confused by her attraction to the one sailor immune to her song. Asexual Myka might love Princess Lysandria, but Myka must learn to control her inner werewolf before the king marries her off to “cure” her. With the help of a witch, blacksmith’s apprentice Malcolm must find his missing prince.

You’ve never heard stories like these at bedtime

Review

These are short – sometimes way too short – little LGBTQ takes on the old fairly tales.  In each there is a character or character that falls into that community who takes on a more modern/unique role.  Each story is a different set of people, using an old fairy tale as a template for a modern story.

The writing is good.  The idea is magnificent.  I really think that for the YA audience these will really ring true and find a home in the heart of the LGBTQ YA community.

However, for me, it felt like just as I was invested in the story – it ended.  So it was a little off-putting and frustrating.  I’d like to see these stories more fleshed out, I definitely think there is more that they have to offer.

I really liked that it wasn’t just gay or trans but a variety of gender roles/sexual orientations.  There really is something for everyone in this anthology.

Overall, I give it high points for the attempt with a little bit taken off for brevity.

If you are a YA fan I’d give this a try, it really is remarkable.

4 of 5 hearts

4

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Tame a Wild Human by Kari Gregg

tamehumancvrDrugged, bound, and left as bait on the cusp of the lunar cycle, Wyatt Redding is faced with a terrifying set of no-win scenarios. Best case: he survives the coming days as a werewolf pack’s plaything and returns to the city as a second-class citizen with the mark—and protection—of the pack. Worst case: the wolves sate their lusts with Wyatt’s body, then send him home without their protection, condemning him to live out the rest of his short life as a slave to the worst of humanity’s scorn and abuse.

Wyatt’s only chance is to swallow every ounce of pride, bury his fear, and meekly comply with every wicked desire and carnal demand the wolf pack makes of him. He expects three days of sex and humiliation. What he doesn’t expect is to start enjoying it. Or to grow attached to his captor and pack Alpha, Cole.

As the lunar cycle ends, Wyatt begins to realize that the only thing to fear more than being sent home without the pack’s protection is being sent home at all.

Reader discretion advised. This title contains the following sensitive themes: dubious consent, explicit violence, heavy kink, non-consent, non-consensual drug use.

Kimi’s thoughts:

This was 80 pages of missed opportunity. Wyatt lives in some dystopian version of our world where humans are seen as sexual prey by wolves. Jut who the weres are is secret and there is a stigma attached to becoming their property. In fact, once taken by the wolves, the best scenario you can possibly hope for is to earn a token so that you have SOME standing in the human world afterwards, albeit seemingly at the very bottom. You lose everything else except your job, but you no longer get to keep your salary or any of your possessions. That token though does keep you from being raped at will by non wolf raped human males though. You read that right. If Wyatt doesn’t get killed and doesn’t earn a token, he’ll go back home only be raped by any man who wants to have a quick fuck. We know Wyatt’s father suffered this way for years until one day he simply disappeared. We know Wyatt is dumped trussed up and naked because his own greedy brother wanted Wyatt’s earnings and possessions in order to pay off gambling debts.

These things could have made the framework for some fascinating worldbuilding, particularly if expanded into a novel. Instead, what we get is a straight man who becomes gay for the alpha werewolf after being gangraped repeatedly and then fed some of the alpha’s blood to make him a lust driven plaything for said alpha. That’s it. Lots of hard core rape with Wyatt suffering and not enjoying it, talking himself into taking it as submissively as possible so that he can make it out alive. Praying he pleases them enough that he’ll at least be left a token so he can have some semblance of his old life once it’s all over. Only it doesn’t end. The alpha is very pleased and decides to knot him with consequences Wyatt has neither forseen or while his mind was chemically unaltered, would he have consented to.

We do get some chatter by the wolves that gives glimpses into what is really going on with the weres and humans, and it’s not quite when the humans seem to think. It’s brutal stuff though, as we witness what happens when a claimed human doesn’t please them, and it’s definitely not for the faint hearted. Poor Wyatt was forced to watch in excruciating detail, so we get to see it too. I don’t mind reading push the envelope stuff, but this just didn’t sit well. There was no romance, nothing to really redeem what is happening to Wyatt and the other humans at all. It’s simply lust driven brutality. It left me feeling disappointed, having read Gregg before and really enjoyed the depth of her previous works.

Rating:2

kimisig

Black Dog Blues (Kai Gracen #1) by Rhys Ford

 

BlackDogBluesFrom Dreamspinner:

Ever since he’d been part of the pot in a high-stakes poker game, elfin outcast Kai Gracen figured he’d used up any good karma he had 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 were left with a messy, monster-ridden world and Stalkers were often the only cavalry willing to ride to someone’s rescue when something shadowy and dark moved into the neighbourhood.

There certainly were no shortage of monsters or people stupidly willing to become lunch for one.

It was a hard life but one Kai liked. And he was good at it. Killing monsters was easy. Especially since he was one himself.

After an accident retired Dempsey out, Kai set up permanent shop in San Diego, contracting out to the local SoCalGov depot. It was a decent life, filled with bounty, a few friends and most importantly, no other elfin around to remind him he wasn’t really human.

That was until a sidhe lord named Ryder arrives in San Diego and Kai is conscripted to do a job for Ryder’s fledgling Dawn Court. It was supposed to a simple run; head up the coast during dragon-mating season to retrieve a pregnant human woman seeking sanctuary with the new Court then back to San Diego. Easy, quick and best of all, profitable. But Ryder’s “simple” run leads to massive trouble and Kai ends up being caught in the middle of a deadly bloodline feud he has no hope of escaping.

No one ever got rich by being a Stalker. But then hardly any of them got old either. The way things were looking, it didn’t look like Kai was going to be the exception.

kimisig

Kimi’s thoughts:

This is a reissue of a book previously self published by the author, and it comes with a shiny new cover which is very, very nice!

It’s setting is rather dystopian so if you don’t like that sort of thing, feel free to move on, but I’ve gotta tell you, you’d be missing out. Kai’s had it rough. The guy who won him in a poker game seemed like the biggest asshole ever. leastways he did until I ran across his biological father and brother int he latter half of the book. They made what come before look practically leave It to Beaver by comparison. Definitely a case of a mysterious past that you wish hadn’t come back to haunt anyone. Of course, if it hadn’t, we’d not have had such a cracking yarn, even with the weird changes to the landscape from our reality being invaded by Underhill, the dragons out looking for a snack during mating season, and a luscious Sidhe lord named Ryder who seems to rather have a thing for Kai.

It’s a full on urban fantasy tale filled with danger and intrigue galore, plenty of action (there’s even a high speed car chase of a sort), more than enough danger, and just enough romance to keep it palatable. The world building is rich and its population diverse and as incredible as they are amazingly believable. Th story drew me in so deep that it was over far too quickly despite being a very respectable 246 pages long. I’m very much looking forward to the next instalment.

Rating: 4.5

Lastly Kimi wants to bring to your attention that the 15th of feb, 2015 is the last day you can participate in Rhys Ford’s Black Dog Blues contest. More info on that here.