Book Talk

The Audiobook Experiment pt 4

Welcome to part four of The Audiobook Experiment. Audiobooks have been my best friends these past weeks when I’ve been focused on packing our stuff in preparation for the move; listening to a book make packing bearable and I’ve been a lot less grumpy than I expected 🙂

This installment has a theme: follow the narrator. I’ve listened to enough books now to have found a few favorite narrators, so I’ve searched their names and picked the books I’ve listened to because of them, not the authors. So this time, I present four books I wouldn’t have read had it not been for the narrators.

Football Sundae by Daryl Banner – I liked Sean Crisden’s narration for Play It Again by Aidan Wayne (in part 2 of my audiobook experiment) so I decided to try this book despite the fact it has “football” in the title. And let’s face it: this book had the odds stacked against it. It’s new adult (which I rarely read anymore) and jock/nerd theme (which I’ve never read because jocks are SO not my thing), and then there’s the dreaded football on the cover (I’m really really really not a sports fan. At all!) But I thought What the hell, why not give it a chance? It’s included for free in my subscription! so I started listening to it. And without the narrators, I would never have bought the book after reading the sample. And Sean Crisden wasn’t even the highlight of this book, the second narrator, Chris Chambers was. Holy crap, I loved him! But despite that, I couldn’t finish the book and it wasn’t even because of the football. I threw in the towel at 50%, because it really wasn’t for me; I didn’t gel with the writing style, I cringed when the young men spoke like jock-y young men (“wanna taste my spruce juice?” really??) and well…I’m not sure there was a single thing I liked aside for the narrators so I had to DNF it.

Tough Guy by Rachel Reid was another sports story I decided to try because I wanted to listen to Tor Thom’s deep voice (that I fell in love with in my first installment, specifically when listening to Raze by Roan Parrish). This book also had all the odds stacked against it. Third book in a series where I haven’t read the previous two. A hockey romance. And I’d never heard of the author before. That in itself isn’t something that would deter me from trying a book, but combined with the hockey stick and the nearly headless torso on the cover this is a book I never would’ve given a second glance if I’d been looking for something to read with my eyeballs. But despite all that, I ended up enjoying the book. MC Ryan, the hockey player, is a gentle giant and you know I love characters like that. It won’t be on my “Best of 2021” list, but I gave it a solid three stars.

And can someone answer a question I’ve had for a loooong time: why are there so many hockey romances nowadays? I feel like half of the books that are released are either hockey romances or fake boyfriends, and I dislike both. Can we retire them now, please? 🙂

I downloaded a sample of Ranch Daddy by Silvia Violet a while ago, but it didn’t appeal to me so I ended up deleting the sample from my Kindle app. But when I saw that Chris Chambers (my new favorite narrator from Football Sundae) was the narrator for this book, I decided it was definitely worth a second chance. And I’m glad I did: I ended up liking the book after all and gave it four stars, but my rating wouldn’t have been so high without Chris Chambers. Because gaaaaawd, listening to him makes me weak in the knees, and now I want to send all my favorite MM romance books to him so he can narrate them for my listening pleasure. I just need to save some money first 🙂

I picked Let There Be Light by A.M. Johnson because of Teddy Hamilton (one of the narrators of Without You from part 2). This is yet another book I probably would have overlooked if I’d just scrolled by it because, like Football Sunday, this is a new adult book with a sports theme (MC Royal is on the swim theme in college). But gaaaawd, am I glad I decided to give it a try because I ended up loving it. The writing was so lyrical and beautiful and emotional and it frequently made my heart clench and my tears well up. The characters WANT to stay together, despite difficulties, and this is always something I love. And the narrators! Holy crap, they were fantastic! I love Teddy Hamilton even more after this book. Aaron Shedlock, the second narrator, was new to me, but he made Camden’s voice intense and touching and it was perfect. Fantastic writing + stellar narration = ten freaking stars!

One thing that hit me when I started reading Let There Be Light, though, is that voices of fully mature, grown men, narrating young men in their late teens/early twenties can be a bit jarring. But Royal and Cameron were more mature than their actual age, so it worked. Maybe that’s one of the things that made me put down Football Sundae? That the immature language didn’t fit the fully adult voices?


Today’s question: if you’re an audiobook listener, have you ever tried new books you maybe wouldn’t have read otherwise if it hadn’t been for the narrator?

There will be a fifth installment: the conclusion of the experiment and what I’ve learned while listening to stories for hours and hours. Stay tuned! 🙂

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Guestpost, Release Blitz

New Release Spotlight: Blown Away by Holly Day

Today, my friend and morning writing buddy Holly Day is here for a visit to talk about her brand spanking new book Blown Away, and tempt us with pictures of cake. Make sure you have a tissue handy to wipe drool off your face 🙂


Hello *waves*. Thank you, Nell, for letting me drop by again. It’s lovely being here.

Do you have a sweet tooth? I admit I’m slightly addicted to sweet things, mostly chocolate and salty liquorice, but I won’t turn down cake when it’s offered. I don’t eat gluten so I have to watch it with the cakes, and with a lot of the liquorice too, but I can’t imagine life without sweet things in it.

Did you know it’s the liver that produces the hormone that makes us crave sweet things? It’s called FGF21 and it tells our brain that we need to eat something sweet.

I’m not saying I’m powerless when it comes to making choices, but some people have more of a sweet tooth than others. It’s genetic. Our brain is told more often to eat something sweet than those whose liver produces ‘normal’ levels of FGF21.

So when Espen Urso in Blown Away is craving chocolate cake with cinnamon and cayenne frosting, Tres Leches cake, red velvet cake, chocolate chip cookies, Mexican cinnamon cookies, Bunuelos or whatever it might be he wants to eat, he’s not to blame. You see, Espen is a bear shifter, and everyone knows bears have a sweet tooth. But it’s not only sweet things, Espen likes to eat, and you shouldn’t keep a bear from his food.

Arvid Rai, who’s a blue jay shifter, doesn’t share Espen’s fascination with food – he’s a bird! LOL

You’d think I wrote this story to celebrate World Chocolate Day (that’s on July 7th, and I haven’t written a story for it…yet) or something, but I didn’t. I wrote Blown Away for Big Wind Day that’s on April 12th.

Arvid is an omega on the run. There is a terrible storm, which makes it impossible for him to fly, and a group of hot-headed alphas are hunting him. They catch up with him in Espen’s territory.

Espen doesn’t tolerate intruders, especially not when they’re keeping him from his food, and he wants nothing to do with omegas.


Excerpt:

“Let’s see.” The bear crouched by his side, and Arvid wanted to run. He hadn’t willingly been this close to an alpha shifter since he left home at sixteen.

Gently, the bear took his hand, then he cupped his elbow, and before Arvid could prepare, he pulled. The pain made him scream, then the world went black for a few seconds.

“Easy.”

Arvid kicked, certain the bear now would take advantage of him.

“We should have someone look at it, but now it at least looks as if the bones are aligned. Whiskey?”

“What?” Arvid blinked away the black dots still dancing in his eyes.

“Would you like a glass of whiskey? A bottle perhaps?” The bear shrugged. “Might take the edge off the pain.”

“I don’t like whiskey.”

The bear huffed. “I’m making blueberry pancakes while we still have power. You want some?”

Pancakes? Now?

“With syrup.”

Arvid could’ve sworn the bear’s gaze heated at the mention of syrup—not in the creepy way most alphas’ gazes heated when they saw him, but in a… hungry way.

“I… eh…” Was it a trick? Was he trying to make him stay so he could mate with him?

The bear frowned. “I’ll go back into the kitchen. I might be allergic to birds.” He rubbed his chest. “I’m feeling… stressed. I don’t do stressed.”

Arvid took a deep breath and tried to soothe his nerves. If the bear didn’t know he was the one causing him to stress, he wasn’t about to tell him. “Pancakes would be lovely.” He didn’t move though. His arm throbbed, and he had no clothes.

“My bedroom is up the stairs in the kitchen.”

Bedroom? Arvid glanced at the door. He appreciated the bear wanting to take him in a bed instead of throwing him onto wet ground and have his way with him, but he’d almost believed this guy was different.

“Wardrobe to the left, right inside the door.” He turned his back to Arvid and walked away.

What the hell? Was it a trick? Once he walked up the stairs, there was no escape, the bear could come up after him, attack from behind.

The house shook as a gust of wind took hold of it, and in the next heartbeat, the room went dark.

“Damn. I wanted pancakes.” The statement was followed by a growl, and Arvid flinched. A hungry bear. Steps were coming closer, and Arvid’s pulse sped up.

“I should have you move to the barn. My heart reacts funny around you.” The grumpy tone would’ve been funny if it had been directed at someone else.

“Sorry.”

“Can’t help what you are.” The bear blew out a breath somewhere nearby. “Go get some clothes. I’m gonna light a fire to prevent the house from going cold.”

Arvid still didn’t move. “Eh… do you have a… flashlight or something?”

He could sense the bear watching him in the dark. “You don’t have any night vision?” He moved around, and soon there was the sound of a striking match. “Here.”

He handed him a candlestick with a short candle, two-thirds of it already burned down. “Thanks.” Arvid still didn’t move. He didn’t want to move. Everything hurt.

The bear snorted. “Wait here, I’ll go get you something.” And then he was gone.

Blurb:

Espen Urso would rather stay inside and enjoy a nice, sweet cake than be out in the worst storm of the year. But there’s a group of alpha shifters trespassing, and he needs to defend his territory and keep the people in his village safe. A group of wolf shifters he can scare off, but when he realizes they’ve hurt a defenseless little bird, he loses his patience.

Arvid Rai is having a bad day. He’s an omega on the run, with a group of alphas on his tail. If there hadn’t been a storm, he could have easily flown away before the stupid wolves got their hands on him, or the angry bear noticed he was in his territory. But there is a storm, and the idiot who grabbed him broke his wing, so now he can’t fly anywhere. Still, he deems it best to stay with the growly bear rather than having the other alphas fight over him.

Espen has never believed in the myth of omegas, and it isn’t until he takes Arvid in he realizes how much trouble he’ll be in when shifters from near and far learn he has one in his home. Will he be able to keep Arvid safe from other shifters? Is it even possible to defend his territory with an omega in it?

M/M Paranormal Romance: 13,628 words

Amazon :: JMS Books :: books2read/BlownAway

About Holly:

According to Holly Day, no day should go by uncelebrated and all of them deserve a story. If she’ll have the time to write them remains to be seen. She lives in rural Sweden with a husband, four children, more pets than most, and wouldn’t last a day without coffee.

Holly gets up at the crack of dawn most days of the week to write gay romance stories. She believes in equality in fiction and in real life. Diversity matters. Representation matters. Visibility matters. We can change the world one story at the time.

Connect with Holly @ https://lnk.bio/xpae or visit her website @ hollydaywrites.wordpress.com

Guestpost, Release Blitz

Re-Release Spotlight: The Egg Hunt by Ofelia Gränd

Today, I once again welcome my dear friend Ofelia Gränd to the blog. She has a new release she wants to talk about, or a re-release to be precise. I’ll let her tell you all about it, but before I leave the floor to her I have something important to say:

HAPPY BIRTHDAY OFELIA!! 🎉 I hope you have a lovely birthday and that your family spoils you with cake and presents. In case they don’t, I’ve got you covered. I’ve fixed you a LUMBERJACK CAKE!! Goes perfectly with your new release and all the gay lumberjacks in Nortown! 😀

Image from Pinterest

Hello, everyone! Hi, Nell, thank you for letting me crash your blog, again. How about a lumberjack for Easter? You probably don’t know this, but it’s my birthday today. Not that I’ve put a lumberjack on my wish list, but if I should wish for anything, today should be the day, shouldn’t it?

Yesterday, The Egg Hunt was released. It’s not a new release. It was originally published back in 2016, but now it’s found a new home with JMS Books, which makes me really happy. It’s an Easter story, and it used to be a Nortown story, but all Nortown stories will now become Up North stories.

The thing with Nortown is that it’s crawling with gay lumberjacks LOL. Everyone has a beard, and everyone is into forestry or working at the sawmill, and everyone is annoyed with people coming from ‘the city’…until their special someone arrives to Nortown.

Writing these stories is so much fun. I would lie if I said they weren’t littered with stereotypes – they are – but the characters living in Nortown are very dear to me.

In The Egg Hunt, we get to meet Tom and Jason. Tom is your grumpy lumberjack and Jason is an annoying bartender from Whiteport. Jason might be the least favourable character I’ve ever written (apart from my serial killers, of course), but it’s not his fault. I have a tendency of making Jason responsible for everything going wrong in Nortown. If someone’s rude, it’s Jason. If someone says something they shouldn’t, it’s Jason. If someone outs someone against their will, it’s Jason.

But, sometimes, you need a Jason to move the story forward. He’s not to blame LOL.

Excerpt:

Jason was snooping, there was no better word for it. He’d eaten his breakfast in the kitchen, taking the opportunity to open each and every cupboard and drawer in there. He was trying to get a grip on Tom. He’d spent the morning pondering on what he knew about him and had come up with next to nothing. He worked in the forest, he cooked his own food, and he tricked injured men into seeing doctors. That was it.

So far, he hadn’t been able to find any indication of a partner, ex or otherwise. No love letters from long-lost girlfriends or boyfriends, no photos of Tom with a significant other. It didn’t have to mean anything, of course, but other than an old photo of two boys fishing—they couldn’t be more than eight or ten—he’d found nothing at all.

He hesitated outside Tom’s bedroom. He shouldn’t Carefully, he pushed at the door, opened it just a tiny, tiny crack and paused. He looked down at Biscuit, who had followed him around the house.

“What do you think, boy? Any dirty secrets in the closet?”

Biscuit sniffed loudly at the door and then pushed it fully open with his nose. Jason smirked to himself. It wasn’t his fault the door had opened. If Tom came home, he’d say Biscuit went in there and he’d gone to look for him. The floorboard creaked as he took a step closer, triggering his memory of last night, when he’d been to the bathroom.

Tom’s room was a little larger than the one Jason had slept in but not by much, although it had two windows—his room only had one—and the light coming through them made a great difference. The walls were light green and the bedding cream coloured, as were the curtains. It was…nice. Nice, soothing, and utterly impersonal. Jason wanted to yell in frustration. Biscuit jumped up on the bed, and before Jason could order him down, he snuggled up like a little pretzel right in the middle of it.

Jason listened for a moment, making sure no car was arriving, and opened the sliding door to the closet. Black, black, and black. Apart from a few pair of jeans, there was nothing but black shirts and T-shirts. Careful inspection revealed a pile of white T-shirts, all plain like the rest of Tom’s clothes, nothing with personality. He rubbed his forehead. It was like Tom was trying to hide in plain sight—almost impossible with his height and that beard…and those eyes. Jason wished he could gaze into those almost-black eyes forever.

Looking over his shoulder, his gaze fell on the bedside table, and he felt a pang of guilt. If someone went through his bedside table, he’d skin them alive, but like a magnet pulling him closer, it drew him in. One drawer: that was all there was.

Jason wiped his sweaty palm against his stomach and tentatively reached out. His fingers touched the cool metal handle, gripped, and pulled it out.

Empty.

He blinked a few times. Empty? Who had an empty bedside-table drawer? Jason banged it shut. It was like Tom didn’t exist.

Blurb:

Jason has one rule when it comes to holidays — work his shift behind the bar and then find a willing body to distract himself with. One night is long enough to satisfy his needs and still walk away with his heart intact. It has worked out fine for most of his adult life, but this Easter, he’s trying something new. He’s leaving the city to visit his friend Aiden, who recently moved in with his boyfriend in the middle of nowhere, but one unfortunate incident leaves Jason without a place to sleep.

Tom doesn’t just not do relationships, he rarely does hook-ups, either, and never too close to home. Living on his own without attachments is easier than having the whole town knowing about him. As the holiday approaches, his lonely house grows even quieter than normal — at least until his friend Tristan dumps an arrogant bartender in his lap.

As soon as Jason lays eyes on the gruff lumberjack whose home he’ll be sharing, he knows who’ll warm his bed for the weekend and help chase away any pending holiday gloom. Too bad Tom doesn’t want to get with the program. As much as he wants to let Jason close, he won’t risk outing himself for a weekend fling. Will Jason trust Tom not to break his heart if he stays longer than a couple of days? Will Tom value their relationship higher than the town gossip?

Contemporary M/M Romance: 34.031 words

Buy links:

JMS Books :: Amazon :: books2read.com/TheEggHunt

About Ofelia

Ofelia Gränd is Swedish, which often shines through in her stories. She likes to write about everyday people ending up in not-so-everyday situations, and hopefully also getting out of them. She writes romance, contemporary, paranormal, Sci-Fi and whatever else catches her fancy.

Her books are written for readers who want to take a break from their everyday life for an hour or two.

When Ofelia manages to tear herself from the screen and sneak away from her husband and children, she likes to take walks in the woods…if she’s lucky she finds her way back home again.

Find Ofelia on social media:

Blog :: Newsletter :: Instagram :: Facebook Page :: Facebook Profile :: Goodreads :: Bookbub :: Pinterest

Sale, Wake Him With a Kiss

Release Day: Wake Him with a Kiss (and a sale)

Hurrah, today is the release day of Wake Him with a Kiss! Come on, join me in a little happy dance, will ya? It doesn’t have to be anything fancy; I’d be totally content with a little butt wiggle for me and the book, I promise! 🙂

(If any of you actually did a butt wiggle now, I just want to let you know that I’ll love you forever. You rock! 😍)

Do you have a tattoo? I don’t. I’d like one (or several) but I have super sensitive dry eczema skin and feel like adding a tattoo on top of that would be a bad idea, but it saddens me a little. I’d love something colorful and creative, something that tells a story about who I am, but alas. You can’t always get what you want, like Mick Jagger probably would say.

Lo in Wake Him with a Kiss doesn’t have a tattoo either, but to mark the occasion of coming out, he’s determined to get one. That’s when he meets Amos, the tattoo artist…

When Lo is dragged into the tattoo shop by his bossy cousin, he steals everyone’s attention. The big man is afraid of needles but wants a tattoo to celebrate an important moment in his life. And he wants Amos to do it.

Tattoo artist Amos is mesmerized by Lo from the moment he lays eyes on him. He’s huge but kind, strong but gentle, and his freckles…God, his freckles.

They hit it off immediately, but Lo grows nervous as the big moment approaches. Will Lo flee from the tattoo machine before they have time to get to know each other? Before they have the time to see if the sparks will turn into something more?

M/M Contemporary / 6926 words

As an added bonus, JMS Books holds a Spring Sale this weekend (through Monday) so you can buy Wake Him with a Kiss at 35% off, which means it’s a steal at only $1.29! Woot for cheap books! 🎉

All my ebooks are 35% off, of course, so if there’s one you’ve had your eye on but haven’t bought for some reason or other, now’s the time. Here’s the link to my author page @ JMS Books. Go forth and browse!

Miscellaneous

Goodbye March

March is my second least favorite month of the year, a close second to November (ugh, November is dreadful!) and I’m so happy it’s finally over. Spring is here, April is here. I’ve always loved April, but this year it’s extra special since we’re moving into our new, huge, fabulous house in the country on April 16. So a big chunk of this month has been me packing, packing, and packing, as you’ll see later in this post.

But I’ve had some fun, and we’ll start with that.

My morning writing habit continues, even if I haven’t done much actual writing in March but a lot of the other stuff authors need to do. Blogging, social media, guest posts, release related stuff, worrying that we suck…things like that. But everything feels better with a cup of tea in my favorite cups (that now sadly are packed).

A lot of my writing time in March has been spent moaning and whining about my newsletter, and trying to figure out how to make it happen. I’ve watched YouTube videos, read articles and blog posts, looked at other authors’ newsletters and testing testing testing, but finally it’s done and live and sign-upeable. (Have you signed up? If no, why not?? Clickety-click this link and sign up, pretty please with sugar on top? ❤️) I really ought to send my morning writing buddies big bouquets of flowers (or bottles of booze) as thank you for enduring my rants and not breaking up with me. If you didn’t already know, Ally, Ofelia (and JM, not present this particular morning, though) are awesome people. Go buy all their books, they deserve it.

I bought my first garden book (The Herb Garden) because surrounding my huge house is an equally huge garden, and I want to grow things! Things I can eat, not useless flowers and crap that’s only meant to be pretty 🙂

And then we went on a road trip to visit my darling daughter, her fiancé, and the most wonderful grandbaby in the world. It was perfect road trip weather and we had travel mugs with coffee and tea, and egg sandwiches. It was lovely.

My daughter, grandbaby, and I went for a long walk, and our destination was a park full of bronze age petroglyphs. This place has soooo many rock carvings and I was like a kid in a candy store, running around, shouting “Oh, look at this!” or “Wow, have you seen this?” to my daughter, while photographing everything. I adore rock carvings and rune stones and old things, so this was a truly wonderful experience. And when reading about it later, I learned that only a small percentage of all the carvings are painted red, so they recommend a visit during the dark, when the rocks are illuminated at an angle, making it easier to see the carvings not painted with red color. I’m definitely doing that next time I visit!

My daughter, her fiance, and my grandbaby, three of the best people I know, on another walk. A cold, muddy one, but fun and enjoyable nonetheless.

My six-month-old granddaughter’s favorite book. 😍 I buy her lots of books (even if I didn’t buy this particular one) because I’m determined to make her into a book worm just like her grandmother 🙂

But then we had to go back home and start packing, and I’m not kidding when I say there’s boxes everywhere.

Most of our stuff is now in boxes…including the rolling pin. Something I discovered when I was making pizza one night and couldn’t find it anywhere. So I used the tomato sauce can, because as we say in Sweden “man tager vad man haver” (one makes due with what one’s got) 😁

And every weekend morning, my husband and I enjoy a lazy, lovely breakfast together. This was last Saturday: freshly baked croissants, pineapple, apple, blood orange, juice, ginger shots, boiled eggs, and tea/coffee. I adore all the spring-y colors of this particular morning: the pink of the pink grapefruit juice, the green of the matcha genmaicha tea, even the orange lid on the salt. Made me really happy deep into my soul.


Tell me; did you do anything fun in March?