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Nov
17

Blog Tour + Review: Citywide by Santino Hassell

Blog Tour + Review: Citywide by Santino Hassell Citywide Author: Santino Hassell Reviewer: B. Rating: A What I’m Talking About: “For everyone who couldn’t get enough of Jaiden and the Queens Crew. This anthology is for you!” This introduction by the author very neatly sums up everything most fans of the Five Boroughs series need to know about Citywide. Fascinating, complex, and impossible to overlook, these originally supporting characters’ voices resonated so strongly throughout the previous stories that the notion of the series without them has become unimaginable. So, it was with an inordinate fondness and eagerness that I began reading Citywide, and ended up caring even more deeply for each and every one of them by its end. “Rerouted” As previously noted, Chris, Jace, and Aiden have been favorites of mine since they first appeared in the series, and theirs was the story in the collection I was looking forward to the most. Chris has illuminated every scene he’s been in, while Aiden and Jace have always made me crave to learn anything about them that I could. Serving as both introduction and HEA, “Rerouted” exceeded all my expectations, starting Citywide off with as hopeful a beginning as I could have wished for. “Gridlocked” Tough, judicious, and fiercely loyal, Tonya has likewise commanded my interest whenever she’s appeared in the Five Boroughs stories. While she could have been cast solely as the Queens Crew’s walking reality check, it was always evident that she was much more. As the outrageous—though equally devoted—heiress and sidekick, Meredith has evolved quite a bit since her first appearance, and made a more compelling match for Tonya in Citywide than I initially expected. While I imagined I’d enjoy “Gridlocked” primarily for the chance to get to know Tonya better, I was both surprised and very happy that the pair got the new start they did. “Derailed” As the only one of these novellas that focuses exclusively on two of the original members of the Queens Crew, “Derailed” was the most difficult for me to read. The history Stephanie and Angel share is complicated, even taking into account the intimacy of their larger group, and the battleground they’ve taken up residence on for so long is downright brutal. They know each other far too well for their story to be either sweet or pretty, and it occurred to me at the halfway point that a glass of wine or three would have been welcome. Jagged and sometimes devastating, their HEA seemed the most...
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Oct
25

Review + Blog Tour: Kill Game by Cordelia Kingsbridge

Review + Blog Tour: Kill Game by Cordelia Kingsbridge Kill Game Author: Cordelia Kingsbridge Reviewer: B. Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Given that I had mixed reactions to the only other title I’ve read by this author, I was eager to give this new series a try—and I’m extremely glad that I did. From its quick-witted characters to a villain that I found myself sympathizing with on occasion to a plot that kept me guessing the entire time, Kill Game had everything I adore in a good suspense story. Although I did develop a particular fondness for Dominic, I liked both he and Levi a great deal. This isn’t the first time I’ve read a story involving a detective and a bounty hunter, and, while there was certainly the familiarity of strong dislike giving way to an improbable compatibility, nothing felt tired or overdone about either character. Chasing down a serial killer forces them to reexamine their own lives, more than their opinions of one another, and I enjoyed being so drawn in by the evolution of each man so far. With Levi on the verge of an engagement to his long-term boyfriend, and Dominic disinterested in any relationship whatsoever, the author incites a more thorough examination of each character than would be possible if there was a rush to an immediate HEA. Whether it’s addiction, moral ambiguity in the absence of guilt, or the pitfalls of allowing affection to devolve into a kind of currency, there’s a lot to consider here. The use of dual narrators in this case not only allows readers to get to know the characters more thoroughly, but proved to be an effective means of sharing their perceived culpability. One of the things I liked best about Kill Game is that, while the attraction between Dominic and Levi is undeniably there, this story is all about the suspense, rather than romance. Just as the killer exists between the law and “justice,” neither Levi nor Dominic seem likely to solve the mystery on their own. In fact, they make bigger strides when the lines get blurry, which kept the narrative as a whole from becoming predictable. Throughout the story, I examined and discarded plausible suspects, sometimes more than once, and was still delightedly second-guessing myself by the end. Already, Seven of Spades looks to be an exciting, well-written series, and I’m happy to watch it unfold from the very beginning. Likable and imperfect, Dominic and Levi are a great match for one another,...
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Oct
11

Review + Blog Tour: Sightlines by Santino Hassell

Review + Blog Tour: Sightlines by Santino Hassell Sightlines Author: Santino Hassell Reviewer: B. Rating: A What I’m Talking About: After thoroughly enjoying the first two books in The Community series by Santino Hassell, and having built up so much of my own anticipation for the third, I was very happy when Sightlines surpassed all my expectations. Essentially broken down into two parts—a brutal look at the insidious nature of “The Farm” and Chase and Elijah’s attempt to escape, followed by a reckoning for “The Comm” as a whole—this story weaves the previously unraveling threads back together into new possibilities, and gives some extraordinary characters a chance to truly live. Chase has been a perplexity and source of fascination for me since I first read Insight, and Sightlines underscores that his presence in all three narratives is imperative. Both a prize and pariah, he’s too dangerous to be trusted, yet too unique and powerful to be eliminated. Reduced to a thing to be dissected with an eye towards replication, his story was tough to get through, mostly because the monsters here actually do exist in one incarnation or another in the world around us. As he’s undergone what may be the most jarring evolution since the beginning of the series, I found Elijah to be similarly engaging in Sightlines. There’s a purity to him that’s still downright shiny in a lot of ways, and it’s no wonder that Chase finds himself as perplexed as he does. I also felt that Elijah’s loss of naivety beautifully intersected with the stuttering rebirth of Chase’s capacity to hope, and the resulting collision was as provocative as it was sweet. What made The Community so terrifying to me wasn’t any single moment, but, rather, the fear, greed, and twisted purpose that might lead—indeed, has led—some to perpetrate the horrors we ought never be willing to inflict on one another. While it is a work of fiction, Sightlines makes several extremely pertinent affirmations about human nature, beginning with Chase’s early observation that: “Apathy was humanity’s biggest crime. Not murderous intent.” From the beginning, Sightlines proved itself to be a strong and welcome addition to a series I’ve come to care about quite a lot. Chase and Elijah have long been a source of character-driven anxiety—in the best manner possible—for me, and I was very gratified with the way their story ended. Additionally, everyone I came to love from the first two books is back, an eventuality I admit to being especially greedy...
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Oct
5

Listen Up! Author Interview + Giveaway: Linda Poitevin (Shadow of Doubt)

Listen Up! Author Interview + Giveaway: Linda Poitevin (Shadow of Doubt) Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Today you are in for a treat! I have author Linda Poitevin as my guest. She recently released her first book in audiobook format and she’s here to share a bit about the experience AND she’s giving away one copy of her new audiobook Shadow of Doubt. Please help me welcome Linda to the blog! Interview with Linda Poitevin: Jen: Greetings Linda and welcome to That’s What I’m Talking About. We are excited to have you share a little about making your first audiobook. First, can you share a bit about your recent release, Shadow of Doubt? Thank you so much for inviting me to visit, Jen! I’m thrilled to be here…and to be able to share my excitement with your audience! Shadow of Doubt is indeed my first audiobook, and I’m practically dancing with glee over it. The book is an edge-of-your-seat romantic suspense that features Kate Dexter, a Canadian cop who quite literally runs into a man on a dark country road in the middle of a storm. Cut off from help, she loads him into her vehicle, only to discover that he’s also been shot. With her cop interest well and truly piqued, she takes him back to her parents’ farm and patches him up, intending to turn him over to the local force as soon as the storm lets up…except when he regains consciousness, Jonas Burke claims he’s a U.S. ATF agent who’s been framed for murder. One thing leads to another, and before she knows it, Kate finds herself on the run alongside him as they try desperately to get to the evidence he needs to clear his name…and to save both their lives. Jen: So, Shadow of Doubt is an audiobook release only. Did you know when you wrote the story that it would be made into an audiobook? If so, did you write things a bit differently to accommodate an audio production? If not, did you have to edit the story for audio? Shadow of Doubt is actually a story I wrote years ago that I’d bottom-drawered. I dusted off the story last year and rewrote it, releasing it on Wattpad a chapter at a time as I went. I intended to self-publish once it was complete, but just before that happened (I’d already had a cover designed and a copy edit done and everything, lol), Wattpad partnered with Hachette Books to turn 50 Wattpad...
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Jul
25

Review + Blog Tour: Get a Grip by L.A. Witt

Review + Blog Tour: Get a Grip by L.A. Witt Welcome to the Riptide Publishing/L. A. Witt blog tour for Get a Grip, the latest Bluewater Bay story! Every comment on this blog tour enters you in a drawing for a choice of two eBooks off my backlist (excluding Get a Grip) and a $10 Riptide Publishing store credit. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on July 29th, and winners will be announced on July 30th.  Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. More info at the end of this post Review: Get A Grip Author: L.A. Witt Reviewer: B. Rating: insert your letter (only) grade rating What I’m Talking About: Like anyone else would surely be, Shane Andrews was completely unprepared to be a teenaged dad, especially when he ended up raising his daughter alone. Now, two more kids and two divorces later, he’s ready to reach beyond his role as the responsible father and experience some of the fun and sexual abandon he missed out on all those years ago. When an unexpected disaster on the Wolf’s Landing set brings him together with a sexy firefighter, Shane gets more than he bargained for. Having been burned in the past in more ways than one, Aaron Tucker gets his kicks via random hookups, rather than jumping into fires—or relationships. Casual suits him just fine, thanks. Until the lonely father of three he wanted in his bed suddenly claims a piece of his heart without his noticing. But, Aaron’s new longing for a commitment with Shane can’t go anywhere if the latter won’t stop running. Get a Grip, the latest in the Bluewater Bay series, has a lot going for it. I thought Shane was pretty relatable as a single father of three who had to grow up too fast, and is trying to work through the guilt and accept his own desire to play for a while, now that his kids are getting older. Aaron was just as intriguing, if not more so, given his openness, enthusiasm, and increasing affection for Shane. And while it wasn’t without an awkward moment or two, there were plenty of very nicely written scenes in the story that kept me involved and eager to stick with the narrative to the end. Even though the protests from both Shane and Aaron became a little too rote towards the end of the story, I still found it extremely rewarding when they both realized they’d been in an accidentally successful monogamous relationship the entire time....
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Jul
24

Review + Giveaway: When I Need You by Lorelei James

Review + Giveaway: When I Need You by Lorelei James When I Need You Author: Lorelei James Reviewer: Jen Rating: A What I’m Talking About: Life for Rowan Michaels has always been fairly straightforward: first comes her son and second her career. There isn’t room for anything or anyone outside her family. Yet, befriending Jensen Lund makes her realize she is missing something in her life, and he could be the perfect fit. Breaking down walls can be scary, but Jensen may be worth it. Coming off a near-career-ending injury, Viking’s starter Jensen Lund has a new outlook on life, one that involves interests after his football days are over. So even though Rowan Michaels breaks all of his rules for dating, Jensen recognizes she, and her son, are special enough to break the rules. When I Need You is another wonderful love story in the Need You series. Lorelei James knows how to capture my heart; her characters are honest, caring, wonderful people who love with their whole being. Jensen and Rowan may not believe they are the perfect fit for one another because of self-imposed rules and rocky histories, but Ms. James shows readers how they are actually two halves of a whole. While I love pretty much every aspect of When I Need You, it is the fact that Ms. James creates a strong bond of friendship between Rowan and Jensen and then grows the romance slowly, that gives their story a solid foundation. I loved that external factors aren’t used to create conflict. It would have been so easy to use Jensen’s past, his fame, the no fraternization rule, or any number of other issues to drive a wedge between the pair. Yet instead, the author gives her characters inner-strength and integrity to examine their own choices and life decisions, then make the changes necessary to be happy. Both Jensen and Rowan are kind, giving, caring people, and the author uses this to bolster their romance, rather than take advantage of it to cause problems. When I Need You focuses on Rowan and Jensen’s romance. Shared in first person, alternating POVs, there is little room to develop an external plot; however, the author does sew seeds for future couples and books. I found that I enjoyed remaining focused on the couple, seeing all aspects of their fledging romance, understanding their fears and concerns, and applauding their courage to open up with honest, heartfelt dialogue. It drew me in and kept me glued to the pages...
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Jul
18

Blog Tour + #Giveaway: Escaping Indigo by Eli Lang

Blog Tour + #Giveaway: Escaping Indigo by Eli Lang About Escaping Indigo Micah thought he’d always be in a band. All he ever wanted was to play drums and make great music, but when his best friend and bandmate passes away, Micah is left adrift. The thing that’s always lifted him up is now a reminder of everything he’s lost. In an attempt to put his life back together, Micah takes a job as roadie for his favorite band, Escaping Indigo. He’s always admired the lead singer, Bellamy. On stage, Bellamy is confident, glittery, and radiant. But as the two grow closer, Micah realizes that in person, Bellamy is quiet, introspective, and a little uncertain. And that’s the person Micah is falling for. Micah is determined to know all of Bellamy, both the rock star side and the side hidden from the audience, the side that creates music that touches Micah’s heart. Bellamy has secrets of his own, though, things he doesn’t want to share with anyone. And trying to uncover Bellamy’s truths might be the thing that ends up pushing him away. Now available from Riptide Publishing. http://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/escaping-indigo About Eli Lang Eli Lang is a writer and drummer. She has played in rock bands, worked on horse farms, and has had jobs in libraries, where she spent most of her time reading every book she could get her hands on. She can fold a nearly perfect paper crane and knows how to tune a snare drum. She still buys stuffed animals because she feels bad if they’re left alone in the store, believes cinnamon buns should always be eaten warm, can tell you more than you ever wanted to know about the tardigrade, and has a book collection that’s reaching frightening proportions. She lives in Arizona with far too many pets. Connect with Eli: Website: www.leftoversushi.com Blog: www.leftoversushi.com/blog/ Facebook: facebook.com/EliLangAuthor Twitter: @eli__lang Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/eli_lang Giveaway To celebrate the release of Escaping Indigo, one lucky winner will receive a $10 Riptide credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on July 22, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!  This giveaway is sponsored by the publisher. Open to participants who are legally allowed to participate in such a contest as allowed by their local laws. All federal, state, local, and municipal laws and regulations apply. Void where prohibited. No purchase necessary. By participating in...
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Jul
17

Author Guest Post + Giveaway: Kristi Charish

Author Guest Post + Giveaway: Kristi Charish Today, urban fantasy author Kristi Charish, creator of the wonderful Adventures of Owl series, is here to share with us her recommended summer titles. She’s also giving away a copy of any of her back issues. Please help me welcome Kristi to That’s What I’m Talking About. Kristi’s Summer Book Reads Now that summer holidays are here many of us hit the bookstores and Amazon looking for reads to fill our vacation slot- the problem I’m so often faced with is which one? With the shear volume of books out there readily available at the touch of the ever-tempting Amazon buy button, the selection can be overwhelming. The list below are some of my favorite recent reads, and while no where near exhaustive – reading lists abound out there for that – but what I hope it will be is a place to find something new that otherwise might not be on your radar. (Note: being a Canadian author myself, I’ve included two Canuck reads!) 1. We Are Legion (We Are Bob) by Dennis Taylor (Canadian!) Genre: Sci-Fi/Geek Culture Bob Johansson has just sold his software company and is looking forward to a life of leisure. There are places to go, books to read, and movies to watch. So it’s a little unfair when he gets himself killed crossing the street. Bob wakes up a century later to find that corpsicles have been declared to be without rights, and he is now the property of the state. He has been uploaded into computer hardware and is slated to be the controlling AI in an interstellar probe looking for habitable planets. Recommended consumption format: Go for the audiobook – the narrator really adds something and the prose lends itself nicely to narration. For: Pop culture and Star Trek fans. John Scalzi fans will also find something to really like here. As a bonus, those who grew up in the 90s will appreciate the odd Simpsons reference. This was a summer evening read and as a bonus the third book is out soon! 2. The Water Rat of Wanchai (Ava Lee Series) by Ian Hamilton (Canadian) Genre: Mystery/Crime Ava Lee is a young Chinese-Canadian forensic accountant who works for an elderly Hong Kong–based “Uncle,” who may or may not have ties to the Triads. At 115 lbs., she hardly seems a threat. But her razorsharp intellect and resourcefulness allows her to succeed where traditional methods have failed. In The Water Rat of...
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Jul
12

Review + Blog Tour: All Wheel Drive by Z.A. Maxfield

Review + Blog Tour: All Wheel Drive by Z.A. Maxfield All Wheel Drive Author: Z.A. Maxfield Reviewer: B. Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Diego Luz had a plan of his own before an accident caused a spinal injury that cost him the use of his legs. Losing his vibrant, wild, beautiful mother shortly afterward was too much for him to take. Relocating to Bluewater Bay was the perfect way for him to start over—and hide from his mother’s legacy. At least, until a haggard, broken survivor shows up on his doorstep looking for some shelter of his own. Born a genius who always knew the direction his life would likely take, Healey Holly wasn’t prepared for the day that script would be utterly destroyed. Now, hurt and lost, he’s struggling to get back to a place where things make sense, even though his “home” belongs to someone else. But, some families are just as good without a permanent zip code, and even a heart that’s been shattered can love again. As should be expected from this series by now, All Wheel Drive left me with a lot to think about. Having first been introduced to Healey in Hell on Wheels, I couldn’t help but be extremely curious about Nash Holly’s intriguing twin brother. Officially meeting Healey as he is in the beginning of this story was a shock, and I felt off balance (in a good way) for the duration. There was nothing easy about Healey’s experience, but I think the story wouldn’t have meant as much any other way. Diego Luz is just as complex, if not more so, but in vastly different ways. Between his heritage and upbringing, his pride and independence, and the obligations he struggles with, he’s a complicated character, and I liked him a great deal for it. He’s unapologetically cynical for much of the story, making his grudging willingness to open his heart and life to another even more remarkable. As has been the case with many of the Bluewater Bay stories, All Wheel Drive tackles some exceptionally difficult topics that most series wouldn’t attempt. As a paraplegic, Diego’s sexuality could have been approached in ways that might have been more “delicate,” but wouldn’t have made nearly the impact as it did here. Healey is absolutely the perfect match for Diego in that respect, but the candid nature of the discussions and mechanics involved felt both necessary and right. Despite the importance of the message of this story, All Wheel Drive still...
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Jun
28

Review + Blog Tour: Oversight by Santino Hassell

Review + Blog Tour: Oversight by Santino Hassell Oversight Author: Santino Hassell Reviewer: B. Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: After falling in love with Insight, the first in the Community series, I had high hopes for this story—and the end result far exceeded any expectations I might have had. In fact, I believe that Oversight has elevated the entire series by several degrees, and there’s still one more book to go. With a mix of characters both familiar and new, Oversight is filled with some of the most vivid personalities ever—some good, some bad—and, as was the case in its predecessor, it can be difficult to tell the difference sometimes. Although I didn’t care for Holden in Insight, a more thorough examination of his adolescence and the tactics and motives of the Community gave me a much greater appreciation for him and what he’s currently going through. It was Sixtus, however, that won me over completely. His unique talent is a perfect disguise for what simmers beneath the surface, and I found him to be utterly mesmerizing. Mr. Hassell has given life to someone truly remarkable in Sixtus, his gifts as intriguing as the man himself. He’s an immediate favorite, one who makes the entire novel worth a reread as soon as possible just to ensure that I didn’t miss a single detail. I absolutely adored him. While Nate’s story kept me invested from the beginning, the conspiracy that unfolds throughout Oversight felt even more urgent at times, the building suspense making getting through those moments a white-knuckling affair in all the right ways. From the first chapter, the momentum crescendos in extremely well-timed sequences of recollection and desperation, and once I hit the midway point, the narrative owned me until the very end. Although I think it would be enjoyable regardless, Oversight isn’t a standalone. There’s a momentum that was introduced in the first story that works its way to a frenzied pace here that I couldn’t look away from. The return of quite a few characters from book one means that this series needs to be read in its proper succession, but it’s well worth it. There are layers of secrets and machinations that are uncovered methodically through the experiences of these characters, and it’s been a real pleasure to watch things unfold to this point. Oversight is an oftentimes terrifying view of what is at stake when good intentions give way to the commodification of the very people most in need of help...
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