Posts Tagged With: The Blogger Girls

Honorary Blogger Estella Mirai: Why a Phantom Retelling? + Excerpt & Giveaway!

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Why a Phantom Retelling?

by Estella Mirai

One of the most common questions I’ve been asked since The Stars May Rise and Fall was announced is, “Why a Phantom retelling?”

Oddly enough, though, that’s the one aspect of this story that was never a question for me at all. This is actually the third Phantom retelling I’ve attempted to write. The first was set on a space station, was aesthetically inspired by that opera scene from The Fifth Element, and took what was probably non-so-subtle inspiration from late-20th-century music-inspired science fiction like Orson Scott Card’s Songmaster or Anne McCaffrey’s Crystal Singer series. I was maybe 15 or 16, and I definitely never showed it to anyone.

The second was a fairly typical modern-day M/F AU, which I started writing after I got into Phantom fanfiction after the release of the movie version of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical in 2005. There wasn’t anything very special about it—Christine was a college student, the Phantom was a reclusive genius who saw how special she was when her teachers couldn’t, etc. I didn’t get very far into it before I just got tired of it, partly because there wasn’t anything to really set it apart from dozens of other fanfics that had been written before, and partly because that was around the time I started working on what would become The Stars May Rise and Fall, and that quickly took all of my creative attention!

But even though it’s always been a question of when, and what kind, rather than whether I was going to write a Phantom retelling, I still think I can answer that why question.

Various incarnations of the Phantom story have always resonated with me. Like a lot of people, my first introduction to the story came from the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical—although, because I lived in the middle of nowhere, and the nearest auditorium where SOME touring musicals would occasionally come wasn’t big enough to handle the Phantom sets, I didn’t get to see it live for years. So I had the London cast recording with Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman, and I had to sort of fill in the details and the visuals on my own, since the Internet at the time was all dial-up and we definitely didn’t have bootlegs on YouTube. I got some things wrong, but I actually think that’s kind of cool… now I have my own “headcanon” version and the actual stage version to act as inspiration.

Like a lot of readers and writers, I was an awkward kid, and my heart ached for the Phantom—not that I’d been shunned by society and forced to live under a opera house or anything, but I knew how it felt to be so sure that people wouldn’t like me that I never really gave them a chance to, or to try so hard to win someone’s affection in all the wrong ways. I also longed to be Christine, to find someone who DID see something special in me. Of course, Christine and the Phantom aren’t exactly the picture of a healthy relationship, and while it’s sad, it also feels right that they don’t end up together. Still, there are a lot of universal themes in that story that are probably the biggest reason it remains so popular, in so many different incarnations, more than a hundred years after the publication of the original novel.

I also wanted to write a retelling, in part, because there are so many existing versions of the story. The original novel by Gaston Leroux is itself a kind of retelling of the Beauty and the Beast story, and most of the subsequent versions don’t follow the novel (which is more of a mystery than a romance) very closely to begin with. As a young teen, I started seeking out as many different versions of the story as I could, and I loved the way there were so many different takes on it. The 1962 film starring Herbert Lom moved the setting from Paris to London, and was the first instance of a Phantom who had been disfigured through injury, rather than at birth. The 1990 film starring Charles Dance gives the Phantom a different backstory and a father. The Lloyd Webber musical gives Meg Giry a bigger role, makes Christine a dancer (which she was not in the original), and introduces the half-mask. One of my very favorite retellings, though, is the 1974 Brian dePalma film, Phantom of the Paradise. It reuses the “genius composer whose music is stolen” storyline from the Lom film, and introduces paranormal elements inspired by Faust and The Picture of Dorian Grey, while also being a sharp satirical commentary on the commercialization of art and the blurred line between entertainment and reality. It deviates significantly from the original novel (and from the musical, which didn’t even exist when it was made), but that’s a part of what I love about it. That film, more than any other, was probably what really inspired me to retell the Phantom story in a very different place and time, with different characters and additional themes.

One of the most fascinating things about releasing this book and doing guest posts like this has been the opportunity to look back and think about all of the influences that have—consciously or otherwise—gone into my writing over the years. I enjoy retellings because they take the themes and basic premise of the original story and bring to them new elements that only the author of the new could have provided. I hope readers will enjoy my take on the Phantom story, colored by a very different setting and time, and by my own connection to all variations of the source material—from the novel to the musical, and beyond.

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Book Review: Guess Who’s Coming to Karamu by Cy Blanca

Reviewed by Nikyta

Title: Guess Who’s Coming to Karamu
Author: Cy Blanca
Series: 2018 Advent Calendar – Warmest Wishes
Heroes: Grant & Will
Genre: M/M Contemporary
Length: 25 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: December 1, 2018
Available at: Dreamspinner Press & Amazon
Add it to your shelf: Goodreads

Blurb: Grant Cary, a twenty-eight-year-old grad student, has let his Kwanzaa shopping go to the very last minute. In his rush to get home, he quite literally bumps into Will Sheritan, a fortysomething software developer, in the elevator. But luck favors (or curses) the adventurous, because their elevator shuts down due to a blackout. Grant and Will learn about each other’s pasts and find more than just a casual interest.

Will has never celebrated Kwanzaa, and he’s reluctant to enter into a relationship, but exploring a new tradition—with a new friend—might brighten his lonely holiday. And if Will accepts Grant’s invitation to join his family for the Karamu feast, Grant might get his Imani gift early.

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Categories: 4 Star Ratings, Book Review, LGBT, Nikyta's Reviews, Published in 2018 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Release Blitz: Only Love by Garrett Leigh + Giveaway!

Only Love by Garrett Leigh

The diagnosis of a chronic stomach condition leaves thirty-two-year-old Sergeant Jed Cooper with little choice but to call time on his Army career. Then on the dusty streets of Kirkuk, an ambush gone tragically wrong decimates his team, and he returns to the US with a shattered leg and the memory of his best friend dying in his arms.

Life in his sleepy hometown proves intolerable until he finds solace in a lakeside cabin with vivacious young carpenter, Max O’Dair. In the shadow of the epilepsy that periodically plagues Max, he and Jed form an unspoken bond. After a late night episode, Jed realizes how much Max means to him, and life has taught him not to waste time.

But the lines between contentment and complacency are blurred. Things left hidden resurface to tear through their world, and before they can repair the damage, death comes to call again. Faces, past and present, rally around them to weather the storm, but before long, they are left with only love.

Available at: Amazon

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Categories: Book Promo, Giveaways, Published in 2018 | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Book Review: Showers, Flowers, and Fangs by Aidan Wayne

Reviewed by Ami

Title: Showers, Flowers, and Fangs
Author: Aidan Wayne
Heroes: Darren & Vlad
Genre: M/M Paranormal
Length: 190 pages
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Release Date: December 11, 2018
Available at: Dreamspinner Press & Amazon
Add it to your shelf: Goodreads

Blurb: Darren’s a pretty normal teenager: high school, exams, hanging out with friends, puberty. The whole half-fae thing adds some complications and being a trans guy makes his life a little more difficult, but he can’t complain. That is, until a newly turned vampire moves in with the witch down the street. Vlad, surly and standoffish, doesn’t seem to like Darren very much, so Darren is content to give him a wide berth—at first. As they grow closer, Darren realizes Vlad is having a hard time adjusting to his newfound vampirism, and since Darren knows how it feels to be uncomfortable in your own skin, he thinks he can help. While it turns out Vlad is pretty great, his problems are deeper than Darren realizes, and more dangerous.

Despite the dangers, feelings begin developing between the two young men.

Darren just hopes he’s not in over his head. Continue reading

Categories: 4 Star Ratings, Ami's Reviews, Book Review, LGBT, Published in 2018 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Release Blitz: Home For Christmas by RJ Scott + Excerpt & Giveaway!

Home For Christmas by RJ Scott 

Can Connor show River a real family Christmas?

When Connor finds River on the roof of the campus admin building, he doesn’t know what to do. His friend is drunk, and shouting into a snowstorm, a bottle of vodka in his hand. The easy part is getting River down; the hard part is insisting River comes home with Connor for Christmas.

River doesn’t have a family, or any place outside of college that he calls home. Not that it matters to him; he’s happy being alone for Christmas in his budget motel, watching reruns of Elf. Only, Connor keeps telling wildly improbable stories of the perfect family celebrations at his parents’ ranch in Texas, and it’s wearing River down. He didn’t ask to be kidnapped. He didn’t want to fall in love with the entire Campbell-Hayes family. But he does.

From one Christmas to the next. This is Connor’s year to rescue River, and himself, for them both to mess things up, make things right, fall in lust and finally, for Connor to show the man he loves what being part of a family can mean.

Available at: Amazon

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Book Review: Chasing Forever by Kelly Jensen

Reviewed by Ami

Title: Chasing Forever
Author: Kelly Jensen
Series: This Time Forever #3
Heroes: Malcolm & Brian
Genre: M/M Contemporary
Length: 353 pages
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: December 10, 2018
Available at: Riptide Publishing & Amazon
Add it to your shelf: Goodreads

Blurb: Old wounds, new directions, and a forever worth chasing.

Malcolm Montgomery was a history teacher and track coach until an accident left him with two broken legs. He’ll recover, but life has knocked his feet out twice now. He’s not sure if he’s ready to try again, especially when it comes to love—and slick guys like Brian Kenway. Still, he needs help mentoring the school’s LGBTQ society, so he asks Brian to take some responsibility.

Brian has been hiding behind his reputation as a liar and a cheat for so long that he actually believes he’s that guy—until his nephew, Josh, turns up on his couch, tossed out for being gay. Brian has never considered being a father, but he knows all about being rejected by loved ones. Now Brian wants to be more: a partner for Mal and a role model for Josh.

But when Mal’s recovery is set back and the sad truth of Brian’s past is revealed, the forever they’ve been chasing seems even further from their grasps. It’ll take a rescue effort to revive their sense of worth and make Brian, Mal, and Josh into a family of their own. Continue reading

Categories: 4 Star Ratings, Ami's Reviews, Book Review, LGBT, Published in 2018 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Release Blitz: Under the Felt Mistletoe by Nell Iris + Excerpt & Giveaway!

Under the Felt Mistletoe by Nell Iris

The most wonderful time of the year is about to get even better.

On a cold, rainy December morning, Finn’s beloved Grampa, his best friend and rock, makes a friend outside their home who he invites in for coffee. The last thing Finn expects is Nelson, a man with a painful past, who is beautiful and generous and turns Finn’s knees into jelly.

What starts out as a chance to get out of the rain, soon becomes more as Nelson helps Finn get ready for the Christmas market. They bond over coffee and fabric and Mariah Carey. Can handmade Christmas ornaments and an understanding heart give Nelson the love he’s been denied?

Available at: Amazon

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The Selkie Prince’s Unexpected Omega by J.J. Masters: Exclusive Excerpt!

Blogger_Exclusive Excerpt

Exclusive Excerpt from The Selkie Prince’s Unexpected Omega

by J.J. Masters

Zale studied the sleeping omega. His dark blond hair was plastered to his forehead, his skin was a bit paler than normal, his breathing soft and steady as he slept.

Finn was no longer in oestrus, thank Poseidon.

That could only mean one of two things. Either Finn was pregnant or his heat cycle had run its course.

While three days was typical for a cycle, sometimes they’d last for five. Luca’s went a little longer in the beginning when he first went off heat suppressants since it had messed with his cycle.

But this omega obviously hadn’t been on heat suppressants. Which was just crazy. What omega thought it smart to live in a residence full of alphas and not be on heat suppressants?

Maybe his father hadn’t allowed it.

His father.

Zale and his other brothers had suspected King Solomon had only kept Finn around for his own selfish needs. To take a sixth omega and to whelp a sixth alpha pup. But he never did. Or at least Zale didn’t think he’d tried.

Maybe Finn had turned him down.

No, if Finn had refused the king’s offer, he would have been sent away. The king would have no reason to keep him in the castle, or even in the colony, any longer. So why did his father keep the omega around?

Maybe Finn knew. He’d have to ask him when the omega woke up.

But right now, Finn’s face was relaxed and Zale wasn’t going to wake the poor, exhausted male.

He needed to extract himself from this bed, which was a disaster area, and head back to his own quarters to shower. He was sure Jordan, his beta servant, was fretting about his sudden disappearance. Possibly even had his brothers out searching for him.

Zale sat up and dropped his legs over the edge of the bed. He grimaced when he noticed just how much he needed that shower. Cum, slick, and who knew what else was dried and caked to his skin.

Rutting during oestrus was not only a messy activity but not an enjoyable one. Which was a shame since he’d never had an omega before, a male who could produce slick. He’d only had humans and betas with whom a manmade lubricant needed to be used.

He glanced over his shoulder and noticed Finn was now awake, his stunning green eyes pinned on him. The omega reached blindly for the top sheet to cover himself, but it was balled up into a damp, wrinkled mess on the floor.

“No point in covering yourself from me now, Finn. It’s not like I haven’t seen every crack and crevice. At this point, I probably know your body better than you do.”

And what a body that was. Zale had to admit the omega’s lean muscular physique was more than appealing to him. With those green eyes, high cheekbones and his blond hair on the longer side, Zale found Finn very attractive.

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Book Review: The Faller by Daniel de Lorne

Reviewed by Ami

Title: The Faller
Author: Daniel de Lorne
Series: 2018 Advent Calendar – Warmest Wishes
Heroes: Charlie & Jack
Genre: M/M Historical
Length: 46 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: December 1, 2018
Available at: Dreamspinner Press & Amazon
Add it to your shelf: Goodreads

Blurb: Being caught with another man sends Charlie Young fleeing his family to the forests of southwestern Australia to scrape together steamer-passage to the big smoke of London. But life as a timber faller isn’t easy and it’s made worse when the men he works with are brash, bigoted, and often brutal. All except Jack Tapper, who’s the kind of gentle giant that sets Charlie’s heart racing.

While the other men head into town for Christmas, it’s just Charlie and Jack and acres of forest. But trees tell no tales and a few days alone is the perfect opportunity to indulge a bourgeoning passion. When the men return and find things not as they once were, Charlie and Jack have to make the hard decisions about whether to stay where they are or run for their lives. Continue reading

Categories: 3.5 Star Ratings, Ami's Reviews, Book Review, LGBT, Published in 2018 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Closer by F.E. Feeley Jr.: Exclusive Excerpt & Giveaway!

Blogger_Exclusive Excerpt

Exclusive Excerpt from Closer

by F.E. Feeley Jr.

With the power of a sledgehammer, Hayden felt the caffeine kick his brain into gear.

“So, about the rough night?” Tommy inquired again.

Hayden stared at him for a second and rolled his eyes. “I thought I saw something. A…ghost,” he said, cautiously.

Instead of laughing at him, Tommy arched an eyebrow. “Really?”

“Yeah. I know it sounds dumb, but…I was walking up the stairs last night and almost got to my bedroom when I looked over at the corner…and…this man was standing there.”

Tommy sat forward, listening to Hayden tell his story. He seemed pretty sincere. “Go on.”

“He was awful looking. Pale. Scraggly. His hair was matted down to his head. He was tall, like you, but thin. It took a second or two, but I swear, the sight of him is burnt into my memory.” Hayden sat back. The hairs on his arm stood up as he recalled what he’d seen, and a chill cascaded down his back. He rubbed his arms absentmindedly.

“What happened then?” Tommy asked.

Hayden smirked. “I grabbed my blanket and crashed on the couch. I wasn’t staying up there by myself.”

“Are you sure it wasn’t an intruder? You know, criminals prey on people who live alone or…”He stopped when Hayden emphatically shook his head.

“No. He would have had to run past me. When I spotted him, I fell backward, almost down the stairs. I blinked, and the next second, he was gone. He had nowhere to go. No, I’ve dealt with criminals, trust me.” He took another drink of his coffee, which had begun to cool enough to gulp.

“Fair enough. That’s some pretty scary stuff, man. Maybe we can chase them away with some rock ’n’roll and some painting, what do you say?” Tommy smiled.

“You’re on. Let me get changed into some work clothes. Come on, I’ll take you to the room,”Hayden said as they got up. They left their coffee cups where they were, walked out of the kitchen and up the stairs. Tommy broke away from him and went into the second bedroom as Hayden went into his room to change.

Tommy saw the cans of paint ready to be shaken and poured into the pan. The room was a sandalwood color, but it was his guess that it used to be considered off-white. He kneeled down, picked up one of the paint cans and started shaking it.

“What did that paint ever do to you?”

Tommy spun around, startled a little, and saw Hayden standing there in a pair of cutoff shorts and a tank top. His muscles were well maintained on his thin frame. His legs were strong and muscular as well. Tommy swallowed hard. Hayden was holding an iPod player and base, which he plugged into the wall. He placed the device on the floor and pressed play. Van Halen’s greatest hits started to play, and Tommy grinned.

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Categories: Book Promo, Excerpts, Giveaways, LGBT, Published in 2018 | Tags: , , | Leave a comment