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Monday, September 29, 2014

Her Final Sleep by Joe DiCicco Review

Her Final Sleep
Joe DiCicco

The hard rock band Her Final Sleep are not only beautiful, they are incredibly talented. They have the small town of Pine Lake completely enamored, but some say they hide something evil in their old house just outside of town. Kyle Van Velt and his friends are about to have a run in with Her Final Sleep, with disastrous consequences.

Joe DiCicco grew up on horror. He developed a fascination for the dark, eerie and altogether strange at a young age. He began weaving his macabre tales in his childhood and has been writing them down as short stories ever since. He holds a degree in Natural Resources Conservation and is a passionate nature and animal lover. When not writing, he enjoys playing bass guitar, listening to music, cooking, hiking, bird watching, watching horror movies and reading horror and dark fantasy literature. He currently resides in upstate New York.

Her Final Sleep

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Horror isn't usually my thing, but I do like to mix it up. If you like this genre, you won't be disappointed. It's classic—mysterious all the way, slow build, creepy, then bloody.

This book centers around the town of Pine Lake. It's very blue collar and laid back, full of factory workers, truck drivers, hole in the wall bars and people just passing their days. Kyle and his bandmates have a dream of getting out and making it big.

That voice seemed to have a hypnotic effect on Kyle as he stood listening on the dark, empty street. To his mind that voice conjured the image of a cemetery angel, cold grey marble keeping a melancholy vigil over winter-darkened headstones. That voice was sad, yet powerful; beautifully feminine.

Another band, Her Final Sleep, is already the highlight of the town and on their way to the big times. They are uncommonly beautiful girls and amazingly talented musicians. Their status is quite a bit raised compared to rest of the population. They have somewhat of a Mean Girls thing going on outwardly.

And a freak thing going on inwardly.

Although it appears to be a sleepy little town, something weird is happening. People keep going missing.
The summer is over and night sets in again
But this winter is unlike those before, for it holds dark things
Dark, hungry things that watch, and wait, and bide their time
The long winter, the longest winter yet
And when spring finally comes, you may not be there to greet it

If you're looking for that peculiar, eerie feeling, this story is probably for you.

***Copy given in exchange for an honest review***

After The End by Sara York Blog Tour Review

Publisher:  Sara York (September 29, 2014)
Pages: 182 pages
Genre: MM, Romance


With international flights crisscrossing the skies on an hourly basis, are we ever really safe? 

When a strain of the Ebola virus mutates; it spreads quickly leaving the medical community shattered. People are dropping in the streets and life, as most know it, comes to an end. Two city dweller survivors, Dean and William, are forced to flee the city and live in the wilderness—where dangers lurk behind every tree and in every valley. Not everyone alive after the end is good, and William and Dean are faced with challenges that would bring many to their knees. 

Growing up in the hood of Atlanta, Dean knows how to overcome trials, but he knows nothing of love. Can he sustain a relationship with William, or will his doubts end them before they even have a chance? 

From birth William has had a silver spoon in his mouth and two in each hand, but the end brings him face to face with reality where he has to take responsibility for his life. After the end, money has no meaning, and life is lived on the edge. 

Join William and Dean after the end and find out how close to the edge they come. 

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Dean searched through the cabinets, looking for gloves and a mask, but he found nothing. He’d have to go out without any real protection and take his chances. That scared him. What if someone touched him that was sick?

The windows were covered with thick curtains that were older than dirt. When he pushed them aside, dust rained down on him. He sneezed and blew bits of dust particles off his hands before rubbing a spot clean on the window, allowing him to peer out. The streets were empty. Not that many people would be out in this weather, but he was expecting to see some people out milling around.

If he raced out of his house right now, he might avoid the rush to the store. 

Or had that already happened? He let the curtains close as he thought about his options. It would be better to leave now and head out. It sounded like the longer he waited the more people would be infected.

Dean went to his room and grabbed a pair of knit gloves and a scarf he’d been given last school year when the staff realized he didn’t have winter clothes. It wasn’t the same as a mask and plastic gloves, but it would have to do. He pulled on his hoodie and made his way to the front door, pausing to take a deep breath. There was no way to prepare for going out into the world when a plague was ravaging the people, but his options were limited.

He pulled open the door when a dark gray SUV pulled up in front of his house. It looked expensive. He froze, unsure if he should go back inside or stand his ground. The driver’s door popped open and William stepped out, coming around the front of the car.

“Oh God, you scared me. What are you doing here?” Dean called out.

“Have you come in contact with anyone else?” William asked.

Dean shook his head. “Just at your party, that’s it. What about you?”

“No,” William shouted.

“What if someone at your party was sick?”

William shrugged and took a step closer. “We won’t touch.”

He glanced around, staring up at the gray sky. “Why are you here?”

“You should come with me. This is going to get crazy real quick. My parents—” 

William let out a sob before he straightened, his lips curved down in a frown. 

“They’re gone. It’s going to be bad. Please, come with me.”

He shook his head. “I don’t know.”

“Please. We have a fence surrounding the property. It will be safer. We can protect each other.”

Dean looked around. His parents hadn’t come home and they were probably dead. If they ended up being okay, they’d do something stupid to get him sick. He didn’t want to die.

He nodded quickly. “I need to grab some stuff. Stay with the car and keep the doors locked. I’m just going ro get a few clothes and some money.”

“I have lots of clothes,” William said, his voice higher than normal.

“You’re a little shorter than I am and you weigh more.”

“Fine, but move quickly, we don’t have much time.”

“Got it.”

Dean raced back inside his house and grabbed his school backpack, emptying the contents on this bed. If they survived and life returned to normal, he’d come back and get his books. He shoved the money William had given him to the bottom of the bag then grabbed some shirts out of his closet, shoving them in, not worrying about wrinkles. Next, he took a few pants off the hangers and pitched them in the bag. After grabbing his clothes, he went to the bathroom and packed his toothbrush, deodorant, and comb into the bag, looking around for anything else he needed. 

There were so many things he could take, but he didn’t need any of them.

The horn honked outside and he heard William yelling. There wasn’t anything here for him. He ran to the front door and pulled it open, seeing two guys banging on the driver’s side window. Dean ran back into the house to his mom’s room and opened the nightstand beside her bed, searching for the handgun he knew she kept there. The horn honked more and he heard tires squeal. He hoped he wasn’t too late.

Dean grabbed the gun and ran out the door to watch William race down the street before swinging a wide U turn, running over the weed packed lawns in the process. The car faced him and slowed to a stop. The two guys who’d tried to break into the car were running toward William. Dean lifted the pistol and fired. The guys froze and looked over their shoulder. He’d never aimed a gun at anyone, and he wasn’t a good shot at a target. He didn’t think he could actually shoot at these people if they rushed him, but they didn’t know that. William revved the engine on his car and the guys turned back to him.

“Leave us alone,” Dean called out just before William stepped on the accelerator, the tires squealing. The two guys dove out of the way as William swerved close, barely missing them before driving up onto the grass in front of Dean’s house.

Dean raced around the front of the car, dropping the gun on the ground as he ran. He almost went back for it but the guys were running at them. Dean heard the locks click just before he reached the door to open it. Dean slammed the car door and hit the lock button. William took off, the SUV bouncing as they dropped off the curb.

“Fuck, that was scary,” William said.

“Are you okay?”

Author Bio
Author Bio Writing is Sara York's life. The stories fight to get out, often leaving her working on four or five books at once. She can't help but write. Along with her writing addiction she has a coffee addiction. Some nights, the only reason she stops writing and goes to sleep is for the fresh brewed coffee in the morning.
Sara enjoys writing twisted tales of passion, anger, and love with a good healthy dose of lust thrown in for fun.

Author Links

Rafflecopter runs from September 29th through October 28th ending at Midnight EST.

Grand Prize:  $150 Gift card to Amazon, iBooks, B&N or ARe (Winners Choice) and a print copy of After The End
2nd Prize:  Print copy of After The End
3rd Prize: ebook of a Sara York backlist book.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

After The End

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As soon as I heard about this book I wanted to read it. With all of the Ebola headlines everywhere at this very moment, it hits very close to home for all of us.

Dean and William are high school seniors at the best private school around, but they are from totally different backgrounds. William lives in a mansion on one side of town while Dean lives in the ghetto on the other side. William is where he is because his parents demand he have the best and do the best, a standard he can't meet. Dean is on a scholarship trying to better himself because he doesn't want to become a drug addicted sex worker like his parents. What started out as a joke, became a hook up between them and led to William and Dean regularly getting together.
William was gay, but firmly in the closet with the door locked and a security code to keep his secret safe. Dean would be out, but almost everyone at the school was blatantly homophobic, and he didn't want to deal with that crap.

In the middle of these two trying to figure out who they are and what they want from life, there is an outbreak of what is believed to be a new more deadly strain of Ebola. William's parents were out of country on business. Dean has no idea where his parents are. People are dropping dead everywhere. There's no one and no where to turn for help. Media networks have the same message playing on repeat.
"You are the last line of defense in this war on our civilization. There is no one who can help you at the hospitals. Most doctors are sick or dying, the rest are stuck at home. Be responsible. The fate of civilization lies in your hands. Few will survive. This may very well be the end of our civilization. God bless, and goodbye."

The boys set out on their own to get away the madness of the city.
Staying here would be suicide. Anytime the people in his neighborhood could riot, they would.

When people had the ability to kill with a touch, it made them the enemy.

I love a good apocalyptic tale of this variety. Everything is forgotten except survival. Humans can't rely on all the modern amenities to which we've become accustomed. Some people transform to amazing versions of themselves, rising to the occasion, while others succumb the worst sides of human nature. Also there's no barrier between man and mother nature which can be a curse and a blessing at different times.

After the End can be categorized as coming of age, new adult, apocalyptic and M/M romance. This is my first time reading a book that fits all of these descriptives. I enjoy mixing it up. I found it entertaining and a little scary since everything that happened within was believable within our current reality.

***Copy given in exchange for an honest review***

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Identity Thief by J.P. Bloch Book Blitz Review

Identity Thief
by J.P. Bloch
Genre: Mystery/Crime Fiction
Publisher: Bacon Press Books
Cover Designer: Al Pranke, Amp13
Release Date: September 23, 2014

Out of work, down on your luck, desperate for cash. What if you could get rich with a few strokes of the keyboard? All you have to do is become someone else.

But nothing’s that simple in this fast-paced, psychological thriller. While the thief builds a new life, his victim’s world begins to unravel. As the story dangerously snowballs downhill, the characters discover how losing themselves can lead to duplicity, blackmail, and sometimes murder.

JP Bloch’s darkly comic, edgy exploration of the mystery of the self will keep you guessing until the last word. You’ll come away agreeing with the narrator that “the biggest mistake you can make is thinking you know who you are.”

Advance Reviews:
"JP Bloch’s Identity Thief careens through a spiraling labyrinth of stolen identities reminding one of Churchill’s riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. After his identity is stolen, Dr. Jesse Falcon goes from the frying pan, into the fire, into the endless quicksand of identity theft, until you just want to ask, as they did on the old TV show, ‘Will the real Jesse Falcon please stand up?’ But like Bloch says, the real identity thief is life itself. Identity Thief is an audacious and cleverly plotted, intriguing mystery that opens up new layers of deceit at every turn, like an endless trove of Russian nesting boxes, with one surprising twist after another. Definitely looking forward to his next."
                      Paul D. Marks, Shamus Award-winning author of White Heat
"This is a fun ride. Despite featuring deeply troubled characters, Bloch treats them with a sense of humor that softens some edges but dangerously sharpens others. There are times when you'll chuckle at a name or a seeming coincidence, then be blindsided with an unexpected—sometimes unsettling—turn. As the main players lose and find identities, you'll be pulled into their fragmenting worlds where truth is temporary and few are whom they seem—to others or to themselves."
                Frank Tavares, author of The Man Who Built Boxes and other stories

JP Bloch has a PhD but hopes people won’t hold it against him. He has lived all over the country, and so far the feds have not busted him. He finally settled in Connecticut, where he is an indentured servant to his dog. JP writes on his king-size bed with the fan on. His hobbies include eating cashews while watching TV and overdosing on film noir favorites.

Doc Bloch, as he affectionately calls himself, teaches criminology, gender, and other things. He has appeared on TV and radio numerous times. Having grown up in different households, he became interested at a young age in the fragility of self-identity. On his own since age 15, he also developed a lifelong interest in finding food and shelter. Thus he hopes you will buy this book. He has discarded many identities himself over the years before sticking with chocolate mint chip. JP is also a victim of identity theft, which is ironic since he has no money.

He enjoys people who have gained wisdom from hardship and ask questions more than they assume answers. His turn-offs include Brussels sprouts, bigotry, and people who think life is simple.

Besides novels, he writes poetry, nonfiction and scholarly articles. JP’s paintings have been hailed as naïve folk art. Tumultuous skies are preferred over sunny ones.

Identity Thief

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I had no idea upon starting this book what I was getting into. After reading, I would tag it with psychological thriller, dark comedy, karma, murder, twists.

It begins with a nobody. Honestly, I don't even remember his name being mentioned at all. I'm sure this was done on purpose to really bring home the idea that no one cares about him. He is at the bottom of the pile in life. No one looks up to him, not his wife, best friend, son, employer, peers...He's always been the one stepped on to help the others reach their goals.
Mr. Nobody, like something you'd scrape off your shoe without a second thought.

I'd always been utterly disposable, like a used condom or last year's cell phone.

Finally a series of events causes a 180° turn in his personality, or was he always this man really?
I'm two different people. One guy does the right thing, while this other guy calls the first guy a chicken shit for not doing the wrong thing that I wanted to do instead.

Dr. Jesse Falcon is so also brought into the story. We know right off what a creep he is. His outward appearance is completely opposite from Mr. Nobody. He's totally all about himself.

There are many side characters. Some are ditzy and useless. Some are danger in disguise. Some are not who I thought they were.
Had I noticed this sooner, my life would've turned out much differently.

"What's next?" I wasn't someone who could be trusted, so why should anyone else be any different?

I'm the type of person that usually can figure out where a plot is headed. This book totally shocked me in a very good way. I loved it. It's hard for me to describe the feel of the story. It's different, kind of in a Double Indemnity/Arsenic and Old Lace/Rear Window mix sort of way except the reader is left out of the know about what's going on behind the scenes, and of course it's during modern times. Certain hints are dropped all along, but I still didn't catch on. I absolutely recommend Identity Thief and will be looking forward to reading more from J.P. Bloch.

***Copy given in exchange for an honest review***

Monday, September 22, 2014

Pumping Iron by Nya Rawlyns Blog Tour Review

Print Length: 169 pages
     Publisher: PubRight (August 11, 2014)
Categories: Romance, Gay, Comedy, Erotic

What does it take to bring a slow simmer to a rolling boil?

Sean Rourke is hiding in plain sight as a Bad Boyfriends A-list escort, hoping to dodge the bullet from a few career missteps.

Mike Douglas’ financial backing and very special negotiating skills have him partnering not-so-silently at Bad Boyfriends, as well as running a training center for athletes and gym rats.

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Sequestered at a beach house in the Hamptons, charged with keeping Lovett Junior occupied while his law firm does damage control over Junior’s peccadillos, Mike and Sean are dancing around their attraction for each other. Mike suggests a run – that’s the stick, but there’s a carrot involved also.

He sank to his knees, still blowing hard. By my guesstimate, we’d gone two miles and change. Ten was usually a warmup for me, but then I was fit, Sean wasn’t. At least not for that. 
I needed to look at the bigger picture: Sean naked, on my bed, his cock at full salute, a come hither expression on his face, eyes at half mast, touching himself, fondling his balls, a finger nudging the gully, thighs inching apart…
Sean blew that fantasy clear out of the sky, dumping me into a brand new one with, “I’ll give you the best blow job of your life if you stop and let me die right here.”
“Tempting. But one question. Is that before or after?” 
“Wha—?” He grimaced and ducked his head, his shoulders shaking. 
I offered a hand to pull him up, but he surprised me and yanked hard enough I got caught off balance and sank to my knees in front of him. Now we were both sucking air, our chests heaving, and it had nothing to do with exertion, not that kind. 
Behind me the sky was lightening enough it reflected in the deep brown pools that were his eyes, the irises wide and soft and so sexy I leaned in for a closer look, hungering for a taste of his mouth and skin salty slick with sweat and sea air.
He had my wrist, pinching down hard, his thumb rubbing along the underside … not rubbing, shoving, shoving the blood back, back toward my cock, and it hurt in a way that I never wanted it to stop. I couldn’t take my eyes off it, off him digging into the skin, thin now under the assault of a blunt nail. It was angry, harsh how he did it, so harsh I at first didn’t feel the touch, a caress on my cheek, following the line to my jaw and tilting my head.
I wanted to look down, I wanted to see how much pain and pleasure he could control, but that feather touch drained me of everything but wanting him, right there, right on that beach with the grey shadows retreating toward the dunes, exposing us, exposing me to his power.
Oblivious to everything but the craving for his taste, I surrendered as he took my mouth, tracing it with his tongue, probing. My hand hung helpless, useless, in a vise grip that numbed sensation and replaced it with such intense focus on my cock and my mouth, there was nothing left but him sweeping inside, crushing and bruising as he invaded my senses.
The first sharp nip released an intense flood of copper-iron. Sean swished it away, then assaulted the bruise with another and another until he withdrew, leaving me passive, struggling for air. 
I murmured, “Sean?”
He stood. I couldn’t. Not yet.
Whispering, “We have company,” Sean nodded in the direction of the dunes behind us. 
Holding out a hand, he helped me up. We locked gazes, his almost a challenge. Then with a rueful grin, he said, “I have sand in my shorts.”
I looked down, leering. “Looks like a sand dune to me. You might want to do something about that.”
“What do you have in mind?”
“A contest.” 
I was going to make him pay in spades for turning me into a quivering blob of jelly, right there in the open, lancing my heart with that fucking display of dominance. Reaching over to hook a forefinger in the waistband of his bathing suit, I tugged him closer and laid out the terms, keeping them clean and simple.
“First one back gets to top.”
He growled, “Bite me,” and took off like a shot, with me a few steps behind.

Kane leads a double life. By day, he pumps iron, running a fitness center, where jocks and Cougars flock for the burn and the ‘tude. By night, it's something else entirely that gets pumped, as Kane swaps sweats for Armani to cater to an exclusive clientele, willing to pay well to indulge their special interests and tastes. His double life isn’t a problem until his conniving ex tightens the financial screws.

Finding and retaining suitable companions for his after-dark clients isn’t easy. David Black’s pole dancing performance at a friend's club hints that he might hit all the bullet points on Kane’s list of requirements, in a way that could mean something other than “just business.”

David is out of work and out of options, so when he’s offered the choice of starvation or performing both on and off the stage, it’s a no-brainer. Kane’s offer of a position with the escort service is as attractive as the man himself, and David agrees to a trial period involving certain conditions. He quickly finds that he’s out of his depth.

Confronted with unanticipated roadblocks, one thing is clear… neither man is taking no for an answer.

My Review of Book 1

Curling Iron (A Bad Boyfriends Novella)

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

David is down and out. He's barely surviving working dead end jobs. One night in a seedy club where in works behind the scenes, he's bribed to take the place of a male exotic dancer who also does hand jobs and BJ's after the show. He isn't comfortable with the sale of his body, but he's terribly desperate.
"I don't do that." I'm a good boy, I am...

Kane owns a gym and
"Yes. Well. I run an escort service. We specialize in servicing the needs of a very select, gay clientele."

Kane's ex is trying to make him loose everything stealing away his best employees so Kane is looking for someone new. He happens upon David, who has a gymnastics and dancing background, pole dancing at the club and knows he's found what he's looking for.

Both men are so very lonely and looking for love. Both have had nothing but heartache so far in matters of the heart. Kane was with a man he thought loved him that was really just using him for his money. Then when he found someone richer, he took off while trying to ruin Kane financially. David has been willing to try anything to find it even though he just wants plain simple everyday love.
I'd done this dance before. Twice before. Trapped. Trapped and wanting it so bad I'd let them hurt me before I realized it wasn't dominance, it was sadism, and I'd become and unwitting victim who didn't understand the rules of engagement. A victim who ended up at Bellevue in the ER.

I am really surprised by how much I loved this story. I don't know why, but I was not expecting the depth. Also the author's writing style is so interesting. There were no downtimes in the book. I was entertained through every page. This quote about how one feels about the other is actually a fairly good summary of this read.
If I was honest, I'd already fallen. I wasn't farting rainbows over the guy, or buying rings, but that empty spot in my chest had filled for a few hours, just by having him in my life. Yes, the sex was mind-blowing. Maybe the best I ever had. But that wasn't all of it, not even close.

About the Author

Nya Rawlyns

Crossing boundaries, taking no prisoners. Write what's in your soul.
It's the bass beat, the heartbeat, the lyrics rude and true.

Nya Rawlyns is the pseudonym of a writer who cut her teeth on sports-themed romantic comedy and historical romances before finding her true calling in the wilderness areas she has visited but calls “home” in that place that counts the most: the heart. She writes M/M erotic romance because her good friends deserve to have their amazing stories told.

She has lived in the country and on a sailboat on the Chesapeake Bay, earned more than 1000 miles in competitive trail and endurance racing, taught Political Science to unwilling freshmen, and found an avocation in materials science.

When she isn’t tending to her garden or the horses, the cats, or two pervert parakeets, she can be found day dreaming and listening to the voices in her head.

Website: Romancing Words

Her published works include:

Curling Iron (A Bad Boyfriends Novella)
Pumping Iron (A Bad Boyfriends Novel)

Ash & Oak (A Crow Creek Novel)
Pulling Leather (A Crow Creek Novel)
Strapping Ash (A Crow Creek Novel)
Sorting Will (A Crow Creek Novel)
Flankman (A Crow Creek Novel)

The Wrong Side of Right
Good Boy Bad

Cajun Gothic (Blood Haven)
The Strigoi Chronicles: Penance, Fane, Michel, Dreu
Acid Jazz Singer (Hunger Hurts)

The Guardians of the Portals
Dance Macabre (short story)
Finish Line (novella)

The Christmas Toast
The Valentine Toast

The Shadow of This World
Sculpting David
Hunters Crossing

The Giveaways:

Combination of Rafflecopter and Individual Blog Giveaway:

Rafflecopter:  Ebook (epub, mobi) of Pumping Iron (Book 2)
                       Ebook (epub, mobi) of Curling Iron (Book1)

                       Grand Prize:  Original Chain Maille Bracelet by MetaMDesigns (US only)

Individual Blog Giveaways:
                        Ebook Bundle (Curling Iron and Pumping Iron) epub, mobi
           2 Giveaway Bundles per Blog Stop


Pumping Iron (A Bad Boyfriends Novel)

We met Mike Douglas in book one. While Kane is the face behind the business, the head of the company, Mike is the behind the scenes muscle, the silent partner. They have been best friends forever. Although Kane finally found the love of his life, David, their company is still under attack from Kane's ex. Kane and Mike own a gay escort service and gym. Pumping Iron is the story of Mike and Sean.

Sean Rourke works for them as an escort. He is just trying to make it in this world. Sean has a major crush on Mike, but doesn't believe it's in the cards for them. Sean also has some previous bad choices for which he's still paying.

The thought occurred I might be the only gay man in the tri-state area who hadn't had sex with Sean Rourke. Yet.

Mike's personal life isn't really that great. He's doing marvelous in the heath and exercise department and doing nothing in the relationship and sex department. Also Mike is stressed with work and past mistake issues. He has a soft spot for Sean, but can't sort in his head how they could have a relationship. Mike doesn't share.

"Don't take this the wrong way, but maybe you and me? We were meant to be together? Kinda like dumb and dumber."

I love the way this author writes. It's so entertaining, containing both silly and dry humor. The two books thus far in this series are about an older man having business issues and a younger man desperately surviving. I did like the first book better, but I highly recommend both.

I've mostly focused on the witty lines between Mike and Sean in this review, but that definitely does not mean there isn't plenty of sexy and sweet. My favorite part is how Mike protectively comforts Sean.

***Copy given in exchange for an honest review***