Shari’s Life: Getting ready for holiday!

Shari's Life

This Sunday me and my sister will be jetting off to Iceland for our first abroad holiday together since 2010 and my first holiday since 2015! I’m really looking forward to it and have spent most of the week so far making sure that I’ve done everything I need to do for it. I like to be prepared so I have already made a packing list and put out things that I know I will need to take! My cat-sitter came by on Monday and collected the spare set of keys. Tash was very happy to see her and tried to get an extra lunch from her too! 

I’m hoping to find some time to write before I go but I’m working this week too so I’m not sure how much time I will have. Hopefully I can do some though! 

These last few weeks has also been epic for UK squish-hunting! When I started collecting it was so depressing how few squish squads the UK was getting. But in the last few weeks we have had so many new squad drops! And there is more to come! My haul has been pretty insane. It has to be 15 at least! There is a toy shop at Gatwick airport and we’re going to check that before we fly out! I’m hoping they don’t have too many of my ISOs though as I can only fit a few into my suitcase!

This will probably be the last Shari’s Life post until after I come back. We have some exciting excursions planned so I will be taking lots of photos to share with you!

 

 

 

New Release Blitz: The View from Olympus Mons by Barry Creyton

Title: The View From Olympus Mons

Author: Barry Creyton

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 08/09/2022

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 56500

Genre: Gay Fiction, LGBTQIA+, sex workers, bartender, scientist, men with children, performance arts, reunited, deep closet, coming out, HIV/Aids, tear-jerker

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Description

Nate and Craig are inseparable high school friends in spite of their social differences—Nate from a wealthy family, Craig struggling to support his drug-addicted mother.

The boys seal their friendship by burying a time capsule, a collection of childhood possessions representing their lives, swearing to unearth it thirty years hence. They look forward to the future with optimism, but when Nate declares his deep feelings for Craig, he’s rejected and circumstances part the two. Thirty years later, Craig is informed of Nate’s hospitalization in critical condition, the victim of a hate crime.

In the twenty-four hours Craig spends at his boyhood friend’s bedside, events which have shaped their lives over three decades unfold—Craig’s journey from poverty to respect as a computer scientist, through twenty years of unhappy marriage, to the late discovery of his true sexuality, while Nate is disowned by his family and forced to support himself by prostitution.

Though contact between them has been nil for thirty years, neither has been able to break the bond formed in their childhood—Craig unable to forgive himself for re-jecting his friend; Nate’s life and relationships ham-pered by his unending, unresolved love for Craig.

Ultimately, Craig will drive a frenzied 900 miles to find release from the guilt that has shadowed his life—back to the tree house where it all began.

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Release Blitz and Review: Captured (Cold Love 1) by Scarlet Blackwell

RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title: Captured (Cold Love, Book 1)

Author: Scarlet Blackwell

Publisher: Scarlet Books

Cover Artist: B4Jay

Release Date: August 8, 2022

Genre: Contemporary small-town m/m romance, crime/thriller

Tropes: Enemies to lovers

Themes: Forced proximity, hurt/comfort, angst

Heat Rating: 4 flames

Length: 46 000 words

It is book 1 in the Cold Love series, but does not end on a cliffhanger. (HEA)

Goodreads

Buy Links – Available in Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US | Amazon UK

“I’m not going anywhere until I’ve slept in your nice warm bed. If you haven’t got an electric blanket, I’ll expect you to warm me up personally.”

Blurb

Who is the man with the gun? Friend or foe? Enemy or lover?

Ethan

I saw my way out and took it. I never dreamed it would be complicated by someone as distracting as Gabriel.

Gabriel

I thought my cabin was safe in a snowstorm until he arrived. Shivering, blue with cold and armed with a gun. The hottest thing to ever happen to me.

Horror writer Gabriel’s worst nightmare is about to come true…

Alaska is home to Gabriel Black two months of the year when he retreats to his isolated cabin to write. But with his relationship on the rocks, life is treating him badly. He doesn’t think things can get any worse when a storm strikes, keeping him snowed in, but he’s wrong.

His solitude is invaded by armed intruder Ethan, his origin a mystery. Ethan is an enigma, a man surely on the run, maybe a dangerous criminal, but Gabriel is drawn to Ethan’s broken spirit and damaged soul. Ethan is so much more than he first appears and Gabriel wants to know what he hides.

Heat ignites between Gabriel and Ethan and the lines between captive and captor soon start to blur. What secrets is Ethan keeping and will Gabriel be prepared to risk all for him?

Trigger warnings: Scenes of violence and murder. Mentions of rape. Homophobic language. Strong language and sexual scenes.

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Shari’s Top 5: Books

Top 5

Welcome to Shari’s Top 5! This is a new feature I have created to showcase my personal top 5 of various books, shows, toys, music, films, food, etc, whatever I fancy focusing on for each post really! To kick off the first post in the feature, I have chosen to share my top 5 books that I own with you! I hope you enjoy this new feature and do comment and let me know what your top 5 is!


Shari’s Top 5: Books

IMG_75725. Space – Our Final Frontier by John Gribbin

This book came out in late 90s/early 00s and was to accompany the BBC television series. This is my favourite non-fiction book because my parents bought it for me when I was 16. I’ve always had a fascination for Space and the Planets and before Covid I used to visit the local planetarium very regularly.  Of course, the science in this is probably a little dated now, but it contains some beautiful imagery of the stars and planets!

 

4. Watership Down by Richard Adams

IMG_7571This is a very old edition that my parents used to read to me as a kid and my Mum gave it to me. I’ve read it so much that it is falling apart now, but I would never change it up for a newer edition as it has sentimental value. I remember this was one of the stories that first inspired me to become an author. And yes you guessed it, many of my childhood self’s stories involved bunnies!

 

 

 

3. Remember Me by Christopher Pike

IMG_7569I first read this book when I was 14 and there was something about Shari’s story that really drew me and stayed with me even when I had outgrown the teen-horror genre. I don’t know how many times I have read this book over the years and I think I probably know it off by heart! When I changed my name at 18 I decided upon Shari Ann as she is probably a character I relate to most out of all the novels I have ever read. Ann is also my Mum’s middle name and I wanted to keep the family connection through this too. 

 

2. Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

IMG_7570As you all know, I love dinosaurs and Jurassic Park is my all time favourite film! I was 8 or 9 I think when it first came out and I can recall watching the film and never being so scared in all my life (and I loved that!). When the film was released, Mum borrowed the book from our local library and when she had finished I asked to read it. I have always been a very fast reader, even as a child, and was already reading books that were aimed at children older than I was. I said I could read it in an afternoon and understand it. And I did! I’ve always been more life-smart than academic-smart so this remains one of my best moments academically! 

 

IMG_75681. The Silver Brumby by Elyne Mitchell

When I was growing up I had my ‘horse phase’ where I was completely obsessed with them. And my most coveted book was The Silver Brumby. Back in the 90s it had been out of print since the 70s I think and there was no Internet like it is now so I couldn’t just find a second hand copy on eBay. So my quest for it involved trawling through countless car boot sales and visiting second hand bookshops searching for it. I eventually found all the books in the series (which I still have too!) apart from this one. I was only able to get a copy when Collins finally issued a reprint! 

 

So these are my Top 5 books! I found it really interesting when I sat down to plan this post, that when I thought about it most of these books have some connection with my family and childhood. In fact they all do to some extent! I’m sure the choices will surprise many people who know me and were expecting horror, science fiction and fantasy novels to dominate! 

New Release Blitz: Blood & Dirt by Corey Niles

Title: Blood & Dirt

Author: Corey Niles

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 08/02/2022

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 110200

Genre: Paranormal Horror, LGBTQIA+, Contemporary, paranormal, horror, urban fantasy, golem, students, homophobic attack, murder, revenge

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Description

Vincent depended on his boyfriend, James, to stand up for him—until a violent hate crime results in James’s murder.

Weeks after his funeral, James reappears, perfectly healthy but changed in ways that neither of them can quite understand. Now, Vincent must uncover what truly happened on the night they were attacked.

In the face of an apathetic police force and a growing number of missing gay men, Vincent and James work to identify the criminals who attacked them.

With James scarred from what happened to him in the weeks between his death and rediscovery, Vincent must learn to stand up for himself and face his real monsters or lose James—and himself.


Excerpt

Blood & Dirt
Corey Niles © 2022
All Rights Reserved

Panther Hollow

Dead man walking. Vincent waited for the elevator in Posvar Hall. Four years was coming down to a single meeting. If the trajectory of his day so far had been any indication of how it would go, he was fucked.

The elevator door opened with a ding. Empty. His chest pounded and hands shook, but he forced himself to step inside and press the button for the third floor. The stainless-steel door closed him in, and he stared at his blurred reflection in the metal. Another ding rang out as he was dragged past the second floor and again when the door opened on the third. They sounded like the beating drums of a funeral march, and he did his best to ignore them.

Just outside the elevator, a woman spoke with an older man about some foreign conflict. They were both dressed in business casual attire. History professors, which didn’t come as much of a surprise in the history department.

“Excuse us,” the woman said, and only then did Vincent realize he was standing in the elevator doorway.

“Sorry.” He slipped past them, his cheeks blazing. The hallway was empty and silent beyond a little chatter leaking from the office doors that lined the walls. Professor Cowart’s office was down the hall on the right. Vincent had figured that out the last time he’d attempted to visit him, but he wasn’t going to turn back again. He was going to face him and explain the situation.

Each step made his heart beat faster and hands shake with more fervor. Sweat crawled down his back, and he knew it had little to do with the winter coat he wore or the backpack slung over his shoulders. So much was riding on this meeting. If today was going so badly, then maybe that was a warning sign from some higher power to turn around and come back another day.

Shit.

He stopped, and before he chickened out, he called James. “I don’t think I can do this.”

“What’s going on? What did he say?” Concern dripped from James’s words like butter on movie theater popcorn.

“Didn’t get there yet.”

“I thought you got off work at four?”

“We got slammed right before my shift ended. Didn’t get out of there until a quarter after. Then, someone stopped me to ask about Damien Wright. He’s the guy I had that thing with freshman year, and apparently, no one has heard from him for like a week. He’s in Myths with me. So, I—”

“Okay, that’s a lot, and we can talk about it later, but just breathe for a hot second because you sound like an old man in an anti-smoking ad.”

He might’ve laughed at that, under better circumstances. He sucked air into his starved lungs, filling his nostrils with the stench of his own sweat. He hadn’t smoked since he started dating James, but a cigarette sounded pretty good right about now.

“Babe, something is always going to happen. You can’t keep putting it off.”

Vincent exhaled. “I know. I’m just…I don’t know.”

“Today isn’t going as planned, but he has office hours until five, right? So technically, you aren’t late.”

“Right.”

Someone called out to James, and he said something Vincent couldn’t quite make out in response before he got back on the phone. “Sorry. Look, I gotta get back to the lab to help clean up for the day. Just don’t leave until you come to an understanding. Most of undergrad is proving that you care enough to work for it.”

With that, he was gone. Vincent took another breath and let his boyfriend’s words wash over him. James was right. He couldn’t keep putting off the meeting, but James’s ideal outcome was a little harder to swallow.

James spoke from the perspective of a student who’d graduated with honors and breezed through his first year of med school at the University of Pittsburgh. Meanwhile, Vincent had barely survived his first three years of undergrad. To make matters worse, he’d only started caring about Professor Cowart’s Myths, Legends, and Folktales class after he got back the rough draft of his final and realized he risked failing out during his last semester.

While he seriously doubted the meeting would end as favorably as James assured him, that didn’t mean it would be as disastrous as he presumed. He repeated James’s words to himself, screamed them in his mind over every second thought that sprung to life until he reached his destination. By that point, he almost believed them.

The office door was shut. A small wooden plaque was fixed to the opaque glass with “Dr. Charles Cowart” printed on it, and a poster was taped to the door below it:

I’ve always preferred mythology to history. History is truth that becomes an illusion. Mythology is an illusion that becomes reality. —Jean Cocteau

White text on a galaxy background. Laminated. Vincent wasn’t surprised to see the poster. He’d heard Professor Cowart babble on about the quote at least a hundred times in class. Beyond the plaque and poster, he could make out the faint silhouette of someone at a desk through the opaque glass. He brought his ear to the door. Silence broken up by the occasional clacking of a keyboard.

Just don’t leave until you come to an understanding.

Vincent knocked on the door.

The silhouette rose and walked over to him. The door swung open. Professor Cowart stood in the doorway. He was dressed in a beige suit with a crimson tie. His salt-and-pepper hair was shaped into a tight Afro that seemed at odds with the unkempt soul patch jutting from his chin.

“Hello.” He said it as a statement, but his furrowed eyebrows made it a question.

“Hi, Professor Cowart. I was wondering—”

“Dr. Cowart.” He motioned his head toward the plaque.

Vincent wiped the sweat from his forehead and pushed back his hair to keep it from sticking to his damp flesh. “Sorry. Dr. Cowart. I was wondering if I could speak with you.”

“And you are?”

“Oh, I’m, ah, Vincent Vicar. I’m in your Myths class.” He offered his hand, but Dr. Cowart walked back into his office.

“Take a seat. I’ll be with you momentarily.”

The office was colored yellow in the afternoon light pouring through the three floor-to-ceiling windows opposite the door. Dr. Cowart took a seat at his desk and resumed typing something on his laptop. Vincent set his backpack on the ground. He sat down in one of the two wooden chairs in front of the desk. The musky smell of tobacco and old books filled the room. The warm light and the smell had a dizzying effect. He felt like he was in a preheating oven.

He took off his jacket and laid it on his lap. Thankfully, he hadn’t sweated through his T-shirt. His phone buzzed in his pocket. James knew he was busy, so it was probably some telemarketer. He ignored it. He didn’t want to give Dr. Cowart any more reason to dislike him. Trying to sit quietly, Vincent waited for his professor to finish whatever he was doing.

Dr. Cowart typed in no apparent rush.

Vincent focused his attention on the bookshelf behind Dr. Cowart to keep his mind from spiraling down a rabbit hole of what-ifs. Worrying about having to retake the class in the fall as opposed to graduating in a little under two months would only make him a bigger ball of stress. On the stuffed bookshelves were small copper figurines of various characters and creatures from stories they’d studied in class. Vincent could make out a wolf stalking a young, hooded girl just behind Dr. Cowart’s head. There was also a Grecian warrior wielding a taut bow, whose name he should know at this point in the semester. The hero’s cape was molded to look as if it were blowing in the wind. Like the warrior could come alive at any second and land an arrow between his eyes.

Dr. Cowart shut his laptop. “Without telling me something I shouldn’t know, you wouldn’t happen to be aware of any reason why Damien Wright has missed my last two classes?”

“No, I’m not.”

“Hmmm. It’s difficult to keep track of all of you in such a large class, but some students, like Damien, make themselves known.”

“Oh?” was all Vincent could think to say. He wasn’t sure if the comment was directed at him or Damien. While missing a week’s worth of classes didn’t seem like something overachieving Damien would do, Vincent hadn’t known him all that well, and he had bigger problems to deal with at that moment.

“You’re a senior, correct?”

“Yeah. I mean, yes, I am.”

“Not a history major, though, are you?” He rubbed his soul patch thoughtfully like some wise old sage.

“No. I’m general studies.” He waited for a lecture concerning the pitfalls of such a degree when just another semester or two could enable him to obtain a more specific and substantial degree.

“Hmmm,” Dr. Cowart said, as if that decided something. “Anyway, what was it you wanted?”

“I was wondering if I could talk to you about the grade I received on the rough draft of my final.” He took his paper out of his backpack. Dr. Cowart made them print out their essays and submit them in person so that he could write out his feedback, which, in Vincent’s case, was little more than a red “D” written on the top of the page with the phrase “off topic” written below it. “I just wasn’t sure how my paper was off topic.”

Dr. Cowart took the paper and leafed through it. “What was the assignment?”

“To look at a story we discussed in class.”

“And for what purpose?”

“To research the historical context and analyze it to understand its legacy.” That was all the assignment guidelines had said.

Dr. Cowart glanced up at him, his eyes narrowing. “And what did you do?”

Vincent wasn’t sure what Dr. Cowart was getting at, but he had a sinking feeling he was walking into a trap. “I traced Grimm’s Hansel and Gretel to the 1635 story, Nennillo and Nennella, and then I examined how it was rooted in oral stories dating back to the Great Famine of 1315-1317.”

“That’s right.” He set the paper down on his desk. “And why did you examine this context?”

Vincent resisted the urge to point to his thesis statement on the first page. “I guess to indicate how this absurd story was inspired by real history, which resonated with readers.”

“I wanted you to examine the historical context. However, as I discussed in class, realism is of little concern to me beyond understanding why these stories continue to affect those who read them centuries later. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I seriously doubt that modern readers are captivated by how the story captures accounts from the Great Famine of 1315-1317. I want to know why this tale has survived the test of time.”

Vincent couldn’t remember whether he had attended the class where Dr. Cowart explained the assignment. If he had, he must not have been paying attention. He wished that archer on the shelf would put him out of his misery, but when Dr. Cowart continued to stare at him, he realized his question wasn’t rhetorical. “I don’t know.”

“Which is why you earned such a low grade on this assignment.” Dr. Cowart slid the paper back to him. His lips tightened like he was fending off a smirk.

Vincent swallowed in an attempt to push down the anger bubbling up inside him. “Because of this grade, I risk failing the class.”

“I don’t believe this grade would have been so devastating if you had a higher grade going into the assignment. That being said, I assign the draft of your final at midterms to ensure there is plenty of time for revisions. I suggest you use the next two months wisely.”

Vincent wanted to interject. Flip his desk. Do whatever he had to do for Dr. Cowart to understand that it was virtually impossible for him to pass the class unless he got a perfect grade on every assignment, including the final draft. Tell him he was already drowning in loans he couldn’t pay off and he couldn’t afford to be there another semester. Explain that it was tough working two jobs and keeping up with all his course work. Demand a new grade.

But he didn’t.

Unlike James, he didn’t have the drive and hard work to back up his words. As much as Dr. Cowart wasn’t softening the blow, Vincent had gotten himself into this situation, and he would have to try, and undoubtedly fail, to get himself out of it.

He collected his things and stood up. “Thanks for taking the time to meet with me.”

“Of course.” Dr. Cowart opened his laptop. Vincent was at the door when Dr. Cowart added, “History isn’t about observation. You have to dig into it and see what’s between the dirt and worms.”

Vincent wondered what great historian had said that quote and whether Dr. Cowart had it printed, laminated, and hanging somewhere in his office. As soon as he got into the hall, his phone vibrated. Below a missed call from an unknown number that surely belonged to a telemarketer was a text from James, asking how it was going. Vincent called him.

“So, what happened?”

The eagerness in his voice made Vincent feel sick. “Can we go for a jog?”

“What? It’s cold out, it’s supposed to like rain or slush tonight, and it’ll be dark in another hour or so. What happened?”

“Sun’s still out. It’s not that cold. The rain isn’t supposed to hit us until later. We have time. Please?” Vincent needed to get away from campus and pump his arms and legs until he forgot about everything except filling his lungs with air.

“Was it that bad?”

Vincent didn’t think he could explain just how poorly it’d gone without crying in the hall. “I’ll explain everything later. Can you bring my sweats and meet me at Schenley Park? We can park on Overlook Drive.”

“If you insist, cutie.”

“Thanks.”

“Just hurry. It’ll be dark soon.”

Purchase at NineStar Press

Meet the Author

Corey Niles was born and raised in the Rust Belt, where he garnered his love of horror. When he isn’t advising college students, he enjoys binge-watching horror movies and traveling to hoard American history in his cheeks like a chipmunk. He hasn’t met a creepy, isolated hiking trail he hasn’t liked.

After studying creative writing and gender and women’s studies as an undergraduate student, he went on to graduate from Seton Hill University with an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction.

In his spare time, he nurses his caffeine addiction and tends to his graveyard of houseplants. He is also a single father of a very fluffy cat named Alexander, who quickly forgot about his humble beginnings.

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