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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: 3/10/2018 Edited to Add: Please note, this review was written and posted prior to the occurrences brought to light in recent days (https://goo.gl/Y7WB7F). The book was read and reviewed in good faith and as presented at the time. The posting of this review in no way condones the actions of author. ======== 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...
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May
16

Review + Giveaway: Firestorm by Nancy Holzner

Review + Giveaway: Firestorm by Nancy Holzner Firestorm Author: Nancy Holzner Reviewer: Jen Rating: B What I’m Talking About: It’s been 3.5 years since the release of the previous Deadtown story, Hellhound, and I’ve been stalking the author, er… um… patiently waiting the release of the sixth and final story of Vicky Vaughn’s tales. As always, the story opens with Vicky in action, this time trying to banish a group of sirens who are causing people to plunge to their deaths off the Tobin Bridge and into the Mystic River. Aunt Mab is still around, there to help Vicky prepare for the upcoming final showdown with longtime demonic nemesis, the Destroyer. Firestorm is the exciting climax of and fitting conclusion for Ms. Holzner’s amazing Deadtown series which features a “Buffy-like chosen one” set to save the world from evil forces. The book is the culmination of every title that came before it, so you definitely want to start back at the beginning. I was concerned that with so much time passed and the intricacies of this urban fantasy arcing plotline, that I would be completely lost and playing catch up. But between reading my previous reviews and the author’s expertly placed reminders of important events, I was able to jump right into the story. In the previous book, Vicky allowed the Goddess Ceridwen inside her, and now both the Destroyer and Ceridwen are fighting for control of her body. It’s a seesaw battle, and poor Vicky is the one suffering its impacts, like when the goddess took over and when on a tear through the bars of Deadtown. The back and forth wreaks havoc on Vicky’s mental and emotional states, leaving her vulnerable and open to making poor decisions. She feels like she’s constantly being played or used and that she’s fighting against her own destiny. I liked that Vicky had to go through this final set of trials, helping her to realize what is truly important. I also appreciated that the author made sure to tie up all the loose ends with the major characters. No spoilers, but I was happy with everything! Because the focus of the book is the FINAL BATTLE, Firestorm didn’t have a standalone mystery or storyline like each of the previous titles, and I missed that aspect of Ms. Holzner’s storytelling. At times I felt the storytelling suffered from ADD because it jumped from one thought to the next, and the plot wasn’t as complex as previous tales. However, the...
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Apr
11

B Review + Blog Tour: For a Good Time, Call by Anne Tenino and EJ Russell

B Review + Blog Tour: For a Good Time, Call by Anne Tenino and EJ Russell For A Good Time, Call… Author: Anne Tenino, E.J. Russell Reviewer: B. Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Having grown up under the weight of his famous great-great-grandfather’s legacy, Seth Larson has learned to content himself with waiting tables and helping his beloved Grandma out at the family’s estate. In a small town like Bluewater Bay, with its communal history making everyone around him far too familiar, hooking up whenever he was in the mood for sex had always worked for him just fine. Finding someone who really mattered was never a consideration, at least until he’s knocked off balance by a stranger who makes him want more than a random encounter could ever hope to deliver. With two failed relationships in a row and a nearly-hostile connection with his famous mother still casting a shadow over much of his life, Nate Albano doesn’t have a lot of hope of being truly loved—not when his sexuality seems to inevitably drive everyone he’s ever fallen for away. Being grace is especially difficult when the heart that he can’t help but put first has already been bruised one time too many. Giving up on the idea is surely his best option. But, who would have guessed that his own expectations would be turned upside down by Bluewater Bay’s most infamous party guy? We first met several of the characters in For a Good Time, Call… in Wedding Favors, the seventh in the Bluewater Bay series. Seth played an important role in that novel, and turned out to be my favorite of the two main characters here. Seth’s main cause of stress is his relationship with most of his family, rather than a lack of romance in his life. In fact, something that endeared Seth to me from the beginning is that he experiences a good bit of slut-shaming, both active and passive, in this story, which he handles extremely well by shrugging it off, for the most part. It simply is what it is. Additionally, I thought his determination to understand and respect Nate’s specific, non-generic, sexuality was notable. Nate is grace/gray asexual, and I was happy to see the representation. The story deals with Nate’s sexuality in a matter-of-fact way, using his growing connection to Seth to answer a lot of potential questions about what it means, in this context, to be grace. In fact, it is Nate’s other relationship issues that cause a problem between he and Seth (as...
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Apr
9

Sunday Snippet + Giveaway: Meant For You by Michelle Major

Sunday Snippet + Giveaway: Meant For You by Michelle Major  About the Book Meant for You    Author:  Michelle Major Publisher:   Montlake Romance Released:  March 28, 2017 Genre:  Contemporary Romance Author contact links:   Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter Purchase links:  Amazon Snippet: I could help.” “Because we’re such good friends?” “Because what I want from you is more than one night.” Oh, God. Her knees threatened to give way and she pressed harder into the counter so she wouldn’t melt to the floor. The intensity in his dark eyes shook her to her core. “I need to be in West Virginia for a week.” Jenny blinked. Wait. What? Did he just call her a virgin? West Virginia. He’d mentioned West Virginia. Payback for acting the part of her fake fiancé at the reunion. “It’s more than you asked of me, and I’d like to pay you.” “Like I’m a hooker?” she blurted. “No,” he answered immediately. “There would be no . . . expectations. But thanks to the wonders of social media, my family now assumes I’ll have a fiancée accompanying me to the wedding.” “You could find a willing date.” “I want you.” Those three words were like a blade across her heart. “Why?” she asked. “I need whoever is with me to understand that the relationship is completely fake.” “Are you afraid another woman might want to keep the ring for real?” “There are benefits to marrying a man like me.” Jenny could think of a few. The way he kissed, how patient he was with her son . . . “My bank account to be precise,” he said casually. “There’s more to you than your money.” He didn’t answer but the way he studied her made her mouth go dry. “I can’t go with you, Owen.” “I’ll pay you twenty grand for the week.” “Are you effing crazy?” The words were out of her mouth before she even realized she’d spoken. She moved to the table, gripping the back of a chair. “Take that back. You don’t mean it.” “I do,” he said. “If the money feels too crass, keep the ring at the end of the week. It should fetch even more at any jeweler’s.” “You told me the ring was on loan.” “It was for that night. Now I own it.” “I won’t take your money and—” “She’ll settle for the ring.” Jenny whirled at the sound of Cooper’s voice. Her son stood in the doorway, fists clenched at his sides, staring at Owen. “Cooper, you aren’t part of this conversation,” she said,...
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Mar
14

Author Guest Post: Lea Griffith (Flash of Fury)

Author Guest Post: Lea Griffith (Flash of Fury) Dear That’s What I’m Talking About readers… Do I have a special treat for you! One of my favorite people, Lea Griffith, is here today to share a bit about her new title, Flash of Fury (Sourcebooks, March 7, 2017), and talk about her new series and writing romantic suspense. Oh… and she’s celebrating with an awesome giveaway! So please help me welcome Leah to the blog… Thank you so much Jen for hosting me today. You know I think the world of you, your site and your reviews and I’m honored you’re letting me chat with your readers and give stuff away. I really love giving stuff away, lol! I also really love romantic suspense. I cut my teeth on some of the greats—Iris Johansen, Linda Howard, Julie Garwood—and began sneaking into my moms stash of romance novels when I was about thirteen (don’t tell her, ‘k?). From that point on I began creating stories in my head. Those stories followed me until I finally broke down about six years ago and started writing them down. And let me tell you that’s a long span of time, lol! From those stories in my head, all these years later, comes my brand new series, Endgame Ops. I’m a big fan of multi-layered series—the type of series that you uncover secrets one book at a time ultimately leading you to a conclusion that rocks your world and wraps everything up in nice, tight bow. Though each story has a satisfactory conclusion as far as the hero and heroine go, each story is also a piece of a much larger puzzle. A puzzle you think you have figured out until BAM, you’re turning another corner, riding the edge of another knife. These are the series I love and what I hope, I’m bringing you in Endgame Ops. You are first introduced to Endgame Ops in an anthology I was blessed enough to participate in with Suzanne Brockman, Julie Ann Walker, Catherine Mann, Kate Serine, Tina Wainscott, M L Buchman, and Ann Elizabeth. All proceeds went to the Wounded Warrior Project. The first story, War Games, is a novella in this anthology. You meet Anthony “Rook” Granger and Vivi Benton and they take you on a wild ride that starts in a maximum security prison and ends with both of them locked in Endgame Ops and each other. My current release, Flash of Fury, is my first full-length offering in the Endgame Ops series....
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Feb
6

Interview + Review: Embers by Kate Sherwood

Interview + Review: Embers by Kate Sherwood Embers Author: Kate Sherwood Reviewer: B. Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Now that he’s temporarily relocated back home to Mosely, Montana, Jericho Crewe has a lot to sort out. Between working for his old friend and former lover at the sheriff’s office, dealing with the family he didn’t know he had, and recovering from a recent gunshot wound, he’s been busy. His inability to keep his mind off his other former lover, Wade Granger, isn’t helping matters, either—especially when buildings start exploding and bodies begin turning up. While I liked this story very much, I did have a little more difficulty connecting with Jericho. Having been a patrol cop in LA for five years, and a marine for eight years before that, Jericho’s clearly no fool. That he had the determination to reinvent himself after escaping from Mosely also speaks to a strong will and notable resourcefulness. But, he always seems to be a step or two behind here, and his ongoing confusion wasn’t as understandable to me now that he’s been back home for a while. Regardless, it was extremely interesting to watch him try to balance between his own past and present, and Jericho is likable enough that I was pulling for him all the way through. Wade, on the other hand, is still my favorite character, and his role as a “mastermind” is the best part of this series to me so far. Now that Jericho is back home, Wade seems to be shifting gears on the fly and the suspense that’s constantly generated by his actions kept me glued to every scene. It looks as if Wade had shaped his life around a missing puzzle piece, only to discover that that same piece had somehow changed its shape during its absence. Now, things are different in his world, too, and I couldn’t help but appreciate both Wade’s aptitude, as well as his frustrations. Another thing I thoroughly enjoyed about Embers is that the author has taken the traditional notion of the “prodigal returned” and turned it into something else entirely. Jericho didn’t just leave home. He changed. But, not as much as he thinks he did, which is pretty entertaining. Not really an outsider, he’s able to maintain a level of credibility with the “locals” that he’s very willing to use to help him solve the crimes being committed—even though he seems surprised that he still has any. One of the older deputies puts...
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Jan
16

Spotlight Blog Tour: Afraid to Fly by L.A. Witt

Spotlight Blog Tour: Afraid to Fly by L.A. Witt About Afraid to Fly Once a fearless fighter pilot, Commander Travis Wilson is now confined to a desk. It’s been eight years since the near-fatal crash that grounded him, and it still rules his life thanks to relentless back pain. Lieutenant Commander Clint Fraser almost drowned in a bottle after a highly classified catastrophe while piloting a drone. His downward spiral cost him his marriage and kids, but he’s sober now and getting his life back on track. He’s traded drones for a desk, and he’s determined to reconcile with his kids and navigate the choppy waters of PTSD. Clint has been on Travis’s radar ever since he transferred to Anchor Point. When Clint comes out to his colleagues, it’s a disaster, but there’s a silver lining: now that Travis knows Clint is into men, the chemistry between them explodes. It’s all fun and games until emotions get involved. Clint’s never been in love with a man before. Travis has, and a decade later, that tragic ending still haunts him. Clint needs to coax him past his fear of crashing and burning again, or their love will be grounded before takeoff. Afraid to Fly is available January 16th from Riptide Publishing. About L.A. Witt L.A. Witt is an abnormal M/M romance writer who has finally been released from the purgatorial corn maze of Omaha, Nebraska, and now spends her time on the southwestern coast of Spain. In between wondering how she didn’t lose her mind in Omaha, she explores the country with her husband, several clairvoyant hamsters, and an ever-growing herd of rabid plot bunnies. She also has substantially more time on her hands these days, as she has recruited a small army of mercenaries to search South America for her nemesis, romance author Lauren Gallagher, but don’t tell Lauren. And definitely don’t tell Lori A. Witt or Ann Gallagher. Neither of those twits can keep their mouths shut… Website: http://www.gallagherwitt.com Twitter: https://twitter.com/GallagherWitt Giveaway To celebrate the release of Afraid to Fly, one lucky winner will receive $10 in Riptide Publishing credit and two books of choice from L.A. Witt’s backlist! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on January 21, 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...
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Jan
6

Review + Blog Tour: Long Shadows by Kate Sherwood

Review + Blog Tour: Long Shadows by Kate Sherwood Long Shadows Author: Kate Sherwood Reviewer: B. Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Jericho Crewe spent more than a decade trying to shed his past and the legacy of the father who drove him away. Though he lost a lot in the attempt, his new life in LA has made leaving his best friend and lover behind worth it. Mostly. But, a single phone call is enough to bring him running back, and, despite his efforts to reinvent himself, he quickly learns that home won’t let go so easily. I found Long Shadows interesting in many ways, not the least of which is its main character, Jericho Crewe. He’s at once resilient, uncertain, loyal, stubborn, independent, compassionate, and so on. He’s also dealing with a sizable case of denial when it comes to being back in Mosely, Montana, and Wade Granger, in particular—which I thought were some of his best moments. While he didn’t leave as vivid an impression on me as Wade did, I think Jericho has a lot of potential to develop over the course of the series, and am looking forward to seeing how he handles his new situation. My undeniably favorite thing about Long Shadows is the re-acquaintance of the two main characters. Rather than bogging the narrative down with regret, most of the scenes involving Jericho and Wade are touched with awareness, companionship, and a nostalgic fondness that reaffirms their story isn’t nearly as finished as Jericho would like to think it is. I’ve read a good many tales where the temptation that exists between reunited characters is laid out plainly, but this is one of the few that actually made me believe it. While it’s a somewhat familiar situation in different genres, the author doesn’t use the “desperate times call for legal infractions” sort of economy that’s present in Mosely, Montana as the cause of every bad thing that happens in the story. But, neither is it a blanket excuse for it. Rather, most of the characters walk a wobbly line between convenience and necessity when it comes to the law, and I found that ambiguity perfectly acceptable in Wade and Kayla’s cases, in particular. Another great thing about Long Shadows is that there’s so much more to it than any of the relationships that are involved. It is a suspenseful narrative that involves different government agencies, as well as local law enforcement, secrets and cover-ups, covert alliances, and a solid application of...
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