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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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Dec
21

Review + Blog Tour: No Small Parts by Ally Blue

Review + Blog Tour: No Small Parts by Ally Blue No Small Parts Author: Ally Blue Reviewer: B. Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Born and raised in LA, Rafael Cortez isn’t exactly at home in the rugged isolation of Bluewater Bay. Still, he’s more than willing to put in the necessary time as a PA if it helps him become a director in his own right. Meeting someone he can see himself becoming serious about certainly hadn’t been part of the plan, but there’s just something about the brooding, defensive Nat that Rafael can’t resist. Bluewater Bay local Nat Horn never expected his tiny part on Wolf’s Landing to turn into anything more than a way to pay the bills after his father’s logging accident. When he’s offered a larger role by one of the directors, he jumps at the chance to make both their lives easier. Developing a few friendships of his own in the process, particularly with the irresistible personal assistant of his former crush, is a risk he can’t help taking—even though he’s sure he’ll lose him in the end. I was both surprised and pleased to note that this is the sixteenth book in the Bluewater Bay series, since it really doesn’t feel like there have been so many. As has been the case with most of the others I’ve read, No Small Parts seemed both familiar and unique, and reminded me why I continue to be drawn to these stories. Nat and Rafael do follow a somewhat recognizable pattern, given the polarity of their personalities and backgrounds, but Ms. Blue composes their tale around a distinctive framework that allows it stand just fine all on its own. As far as the main characters go, I thought that Nat and Rafael were an intriguing couple, and I enjoyed Raphael’s patience while Nat consistently strove to find steadier ground beneath his feet. Their respective backgrounds are different enough to make the pairing seem farfetched on the surface, yet their personalities somehow made them a perfect fit for one another. I also felt the “outsider vs. the locals” aspect of some of these stories worked especially well in their case, as the roles are reversed depending on whether a scene is taking place within the “Hollywood”-ness of the show, or the Bluewater Bay that exists outside of it. Overall, I feel that No Small Parts is a sweet, thoughtful addition to the Bluewater Bay series. As it focuses once again on the television show that is...
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Oct
26

Review + Blog Tour: Of Flame and Light by Cecy Robson

Review + Blog Tour: Of Flame and Light by Cecy Robson Of Flame and Light Author: Cecy Robson Reviewers: Gikany and Una Rating: B What We’re Talking About: Gikany and Una have been anticipating this novel since we met Taran in the first Weird Girls novel, A Curse Awakened. We loved this mouthy, confident woman. We found it fascinating to see the world of the Wird sisters through Taran’s eyes. Taran’s persona is just a façade. Taran’s history (which we hope to learn more about in future books) has taught her to show a tough-as-nails façade to hide her brittle self-esteem. She is terrified of being in love. This fact is illustrated through her frustrating relationship with Gem. One would think that since they are mated, she would have nothing to fear, but Taran is afraid that if she loves Gem, mate or not, he will leave her. Taran is hopelessly in love with Gem but to protect herself she has rejected him because of the injury she suffered in A Cursed Bloodline. A great recap of Taran’s story can be read in the prequel novella, Of Flame and Promise (review link below). Taran’s injury was grave: she lost her arm. The werewolves were able to use pack magic to give her a new arm, however, Taran’s new arm did not grow back exactly as it was. This new arm is wreaking havoc with her “Wird girl’s cursed” magic. It is almost as if the arm has a mind of its own. To make matters worse, it even looks different. Due to this, Taran feels disfigured and no longer attractive. It doesn’t help that Gem seems to avoid touching or even acknowledging this arm. Now to make things catastrophic (a norm for the Wird sisters), the arm seems to be causing Taran’s magic to backfire when she is emotional. With the current stress of her non-relationship with Gem, she is an emotional mess and her magic is going crazy. Taran is forced to turn to the witches (who she loathes) to learn to control her magic. The witch coven is a cross between a stereotypical sorority house and a horror novel orphanage. The animosity between Taran and the head witch, Genevieve, is seething since Genevieve is lusting after Gem. With Gem spending a lot of time there, and the rumor mill running full force, Taran suspects she has been replaced. Although she tries to make things work at the coven, the Wird sister luck strikes every time making things worse...
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Oct
24

Review + Blog Tour: Interborough by Santino Hassell

Review + Blog Tour: Interborough by Santino Hassell Interborough Author: Santino Hassell Reviewer: B. Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: I wasn’t sure what to expect when I read that Interborough would be a follow-up to Raymond and David’s first story in the series, Sunset Park. While the latter ended well, this new narrative is even more complicated and beautiful, sometimes ruthlessly illustrating the fact that finding happiness and keeping it are two very different things. As was the case in Sunset Park, I found Raymond impossible not to love. Instead of the traditional trope of the wayward son failing to live up to the expectations of others, Ray never had anyone in his life to believe in what he could be in the first place—until David. Now that he and David have been together for a year and a half, however, he’s working two full-time jobs as well as attending college classes. He’s definitely got his mind on the future, but he’s worn himself down to the bone, leaving little to no time to focus on his relationship with David. Regardless, Raymond is a truly wonderful character, and I couldn’t help becoming thoroughly invested in him all over again. While I still had a harder time settling into David’s corner, I thought the feelings that fueled his actions were clearer in Interborough, especially later in the story. David’s desperate need to avoid feeling insubstantial in his own life does not manifest itself well at all, and when an abundance of alcohol was involved, I actually had to set the book aside and pace for a little while. As much as I wished I could have intervened on occasion, David’s own desire to stop himself, along with his inability to do so, made me feel completely awful for them both. I don’t often dwell on the sex scenes in a story, but in the case of Interborough, they were about far more than just the act itself. Even the most intimate moments between Raymond and David have layers of meaning—love, desperation, remembrance, and regret—and the shadow of loss is almost always present, creeping in at the edges. Oftentimes, it seemed that the literal, physical connection was only thing keeping them from flying apart altogether. While the relationship between Ray and David is the main focus of the narrative, Interborough unflinchingly examines several contributing factors that are undeniably relevant in our world every day. The fact that Ray is Puerto Rican and David is a “preppy white boy”...
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Oct
22

Cover Reveal + Giveaway: Borrowed Souls by Chelsea Mueller

Cover Reveal + Giveaway: Borrowed Souls by Chelsea Mueller Look what’s coming April 2017! About the Book: Callie Delgado always puts family first, and unfortunately her brother knows it. She’s emptied her savings, lost work, and spilled countless tears trying to keep him out of trouble, but now he’s in deeper than ever, and his debt is on Callie’s head. She’s given a choice: do some dirty work for the mob, or have her brother returned to her in tiny pieces. Renting souls is big business for the religious population of Gem City. Those looking to take part in immoral—or even illegal—activity can borrow someone else’s soul, for a price, and sin without consequence. To save her brother, Callie needs a borrowed soul, but she doesn’t have anywhere near the money to pay for it. The slimy Soul Charmer is willing to barter, but accepting his offer will force Callie into a dangerous world of magic she isn’t ready for. With the help of the guarded but undeniably attractive Derek—whose allegiance to the Charmer wavers as his connection to Callie grows—she’ll have to walk a tight line, avoid pissing off the bad guys, all while struggling to determine what her loyalty to her family’s really worth. Losing her brother isn’t an option. Losing her soul? Maybe. ADD IT ON GOODREADS Pre-Order Now: Amazon : Book Depository : Barnes & Noble Giveaway: To celebrate the upcoming release of Borrowed Souls, the author is sponsoring an awesome giveaway! One (1) eligible winner will be selected at random. This contest is open internationally, through 11:59 pm EDT 10/31/16. Please see the Rafflecopter form for more details. Prizes: The Veil by Chloe Neill SIGNED! Midnight Crossroad by Charlaine Harris Hounded by Kevin Hearne 1 custom “Soul Magic” candle (it smells of forest, storms, and cinnamon) a Rafflecopter giveaway This giveaway is sponsored by the author. Additional details are listed on the Rafflecopter form. 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 the contest, participants agree to be bound by the decisions of the contest sponsor. Prize will be delivered by the contest sponsor. This blog, its reviewers, and the owner are not responsible for items lost in the mail. By entering this giveaway, participants agree to abide by these terms. About the Author: Chelsea Mueller writes gritty contemporary fantasy (BORROWED SOULS, 2017). She founded speculative fiction website Vampire Book Club, blogs about TV and...
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Oct
21

Review + Blog Tour: Bluewater Blues by G.B. Gordon

Review + Blog Tour: Bluewater Blues by G.B. Gordon Bluewater Blues Author: G.B. Gordon Reviewer: B. Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Jack Daley is a man with secrets. After living on the run for years with his sister, Margaret, they’ve finally found a place to call their own in Bluewater Bay. But, hiding out is lonely business, and Jack just can’t help feeling drawn to the tall, gorgeous stranger who seems more familiar than he should. Though her autism is both a complication and a gift, Jack must learn to accept that Margaret is plenty capable when it comes to her own life, and that, with a little trust and faith, they both find happiness in the refuge that has become a real home. Having learned to cope remarkably well with his autism over the years, Mark Keao keeps the details of his life, and his diagnoses, to himself. He’s fantastic at his job, is involved in activities that make him happy, and isn’t remotely interested in anyone’s pity. Still, pride is a complicated thing, especially on the set of a demanding TV show like Wolf’s Landing. It doesn’t help that the one man who might finally be able to understand and care about him, is keeping things from him. But, Mark’s no quitter, and he’s not about to let Jack go without a fight. Without question, autism plays a tremendous role in Bluewater Blues, easily rivaling, if not surpassing, the romance that develops between the two main characters. Margaret and Mark represent very different manifestations of the spectrum, yet both are independent and manage their lives well. I believe the author approached the subject thoughtfully, and it seemed that a great deal of consideration was given with regard to research and dignity during the writing process. It was also nice to see Mark and Jack engage in, and eventually maintain, a successful and intimate relationship with such a sense of normalcy, as it should be. Whatever difficulties they did have were the result of Jack and Margaret’s past—and Jack’s habitual protectiveness—rather than Mark’s autism and SPD. Many of the things that could have been used as a means of dividing them actually serve to make them complimentary instead. In fact, Jack’s obligation to exercise that much discipline and responsibility for so long makes his handing control over to Mark seem like an enjoyably viable, yet mutually beneficial, solution. Although it’s not always an effective tactic, the author’s use of dual POV’s works fairly well in Bluewater...
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Oct
10

Blog Tour + Review: Pansies by Alexis Hall

Blog Tour + Review: Pansies by Alexis Hall Pansies Author: Alexis Hall Reviewer: B. Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: As has been the case with every story I’ve read by Alexis Hall, I find myself unable to write this review without a great deal of regard and admiration for both story and author. Mr. Hall is as thorough in Pansies as ever, writing in layers that are at once complex, philosophical, and literary, yet which are presented through the reassuring familiarity of sensation, sound, and color. I don’t think that there is a single, exclusionary truth within the narrative, but, rather, a unique kind of acceptance that is difficult to explain. I don’t believe it’s exactly right to say that Pansies is the story of two people with a shared past, because it is so disparate in the experience of the main characters. The setting is the same, as are many of the key players, but the summation of its pieces has wildly different effects on Fen and Alfie. What I took from their respective histories is that the past is never a singular, weightless construct. It is as fractured as the lens of a kaleidoscope, each contributor’s perspective unique to every other. And as long as a single person’s shoulders are bowed under the weight of it, all are indefinitely accountable. Perspective, in general, is another important component of the story, and how the same quantity of time can be experienced in entirely different ways by two (or more) people. Fen and Alfie both left South Shields, but there’s a significant distinction between “having to” and “wanting to.” Change is presented similarly, and might be viewed as the crumbling of foundations vs. the awareness of possibility. One of my favorite things about Pansies is the enticement of the senses that seems to be present in all of Mr. Hall’s books. The smell of flowers and sex. The taste of wine and the salt spray of the ocean. A warmth strong enough to touch the chill that has nothing to do with the weather. And there are constant bursts of color—the red-black of butterfly wings, purple silk, and sea glass green—flung with all the moments they attend against grey skies. These are magical stories. While Pansies does have its share of serious themes coursing through it, it is also fairly packed with humor—side-splitting, tears-streaming, cackling-out-loud humor. Alfie is a mess. There’s not much about him that isn’t a mess, and occasionally that manifests in truly bizarre...
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Oct
3

Blog Tour + Giveaway: Can’t Hide From Me by Cordelia Kingsbridge

Blog Tour + Giveaway: Can’t Hide From Me by Cordelia Kingsbridge Hi! I’m Cordelia Kingsbridge, and I’m pleased to welcome you to the blog tour for my novel Can’t Hide From Me. Thanks so much for checking it out! About the Book: Charles Hunter’s team is on a mission to extract an unidentified ATF agent from an undercover job gone wrong. All they’ve got to go on is the rendezvous location—until Charles recognizes the ex he hasn’t seen in years. Their “simple rescue mission” is about to get a lot more complicated. For Ángel Medina, adjusting to life after his cartel nightmare is hard enough without confronting memories of a failed relationship. All he wants is a fresh start. But when a violent stalker lashes out from the shadows, Ángel realizes his nightmare is far from over. As the stalker’s obsession escalates and bodies start dropping, Charles and Ángel are thrown together in a desperate search for the culprit. Tempers flare and old passions reignite, drawing them back into the same turbulent relationship that once ended in disaster. But the stalker isn’t letting go—and the next strike might hit straight through the heart. Release Date: October 3, 2016 Publisher: Riptide Publishing Series: Standalone Genre: Suspense, Romance, Contemporary, LGBTQ, m/m Format(s): paperback (343 pages), e-book Book Source: NetGalley/Publisher Purchase Info: Riptide Publishing : Amazon About Cordelia Kingsbridge: Cordelia Kingsbridge has a master’s degree in social work from the University of Pittsburgh, but quickly discovered that direct practice in the field was not for her. Having written novels as a hobby throughout graduate school, she decided to turn her focus to writing as a full-time career. Now she explores her fascination with human behavior, motivation, and psychopathology through fiction. Her weaknesses include opposites-attract pairings and snarky banter. Away from her desk, Cordelia is a fitness fanatic, and can be found strength training, cycling, and practicing Krav Maga. She lives in South Florida but spends most of her time indoors with the air conditioning on full blast! Connect with Cordelia: Email:  cordeliakingsbridge@gmail.com Tumblr: http://ckingsbridge.tumblr.com Giveaway To celebrate the release of Can’t Hide From Me, one lucky winner will receive a $15 Riptide Publishing gift card! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on October 8, 2016. 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...
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Sep
26

Q&A + Review: The Bloodsworn by Erin Lindsey

Q&A + Review: The Bloodsworn by Erin Lindsey The Bloodsworn Author: Erin Lindsey Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: A-  What We’re Talking About: Gikany and Una have waited somewhat impatiently for the final book in this Bloodbound trilogy.  We were not disappointed.  The Bloodsworn is our favorite book of the series. What makes this series so captivating is the characters.  All three main characters (Alix, Liam, and Erik) developed over the course of the three novels.  Gikany and Una enjoyed discussing the changes that Alix, Liam and Erik each underwent as the series progressed.  We watched them grow in both confidence and decisiveness.  The heartache they felt after making tough choices grounded the novel.  Not only do the characters have depth, but their individual journeys also help connect the reader to the story. A theme that runs through the entire series is the necessity of choosing to be a good man or a good king.  Sometimes the choice a king faces means deciding between doing what his conscience dictates and what is best for his kingdom.  At first glance it seems they would be the same thing, but this series explores how it is not always so.  It was fascinating to watch as Alix and Liam not only supported Erik as he faced these decisions, but as they faced them as well. We enjoyed the multifaceted mythologies, politics, and cultures of Alden and the surrounding kingdoms.  It was gripping to watch as Alix navigated another kingdom and its culture as she tried to save her king and kingdom.  The suspense of her adventure behind enemy lines was nail biting. The Bloodsworn is an engrossing and captivating final novel.  We were on the edge of our seats while our heroes fought against formidable odds to save Erik and the kingdom.  Their loyalty and courage were awe-inspiring.  If you enjoy suspenseful fantasy with politics and war, you should read the Bloodbound series.  We look forward to more from this author. Our Rating:  A- Enjoyed A Lot Our Series Rating:  A- Enjoyed A Lot / B+ Liked It A Lot About the Book: The bonds of family, love and loyalty are pushed to their limits in this thrilling conclusion to the epic saga started in The Bloodbound… As the war between Alden and Oridia draws to its conclusion, the fates of both kingdoms rest on the actions of a select group of individuals—and, of course, the unbreakable bonds of blood.. Unbeknownst to most of Alden, King Erik, in thrall to...
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Aug
31

Review + Blog Tour: Looking for Group by Alexis Hall

Review + Blog Tour: Looking for Group by Alexis Hall Looking for Group Author: Alexis Hall Reviewer: B. Rating: A What I’m Talking About: Beginning with what is essentially a “job listing” in a fictional MMO, Looking for Group is one of the most unique and fun stories about falling in love that I’ve had the pleasure of reading in a very long time. Told exclusively from Drew’s perspective, it’s a noteworthy lesson, not only about accepting others for who they are, but being honest with ourselves, as well. There’s actually much more to it than that, but it’s better to just read it firsthand. One of the most fascinating things about Looking for Group is what felt like a fairly thorough immersion of the reader in the gameplay of the fictional MMO, Heroes of Legend. Though Mr. Hall clearly took as many facets of his audience as possible into consideration when writing the game scenes, I was still thankful for the glossary at the end of the story. If you don’t already speak MMO, this should definitely be read first. Aside from being very helpful in following along in HoL, it’s an extremely entertaining feature in its own right, and, in general, I thought it was a nice touch. As he’s the only narrator, we see the world of the story through Drew’s eyes, and there were several moments when I wished with all my heart that I could derail certain trajectories he’d flung himself along before it was too late. But, Mr. Hall is an excellent storyteller, and that would have been too easy. Instead, we’re given the chance to ask ourselves what the term “real” actually means, and hopefully acknowledge that our definition isn’t likely to be the same as anyone else’s. And that’s okay. Despite Drew’s best intentions, there simply isn’t a universally applicable pie chart for “The Equitable and Acceptable Distribution of Self.” As usual, Mr. Hall has created an entire cast of vivid and engaging personalities in Looking for Group, each unique and “alive,” whether secondary or no. Drew and Kit are each completely wonderful, and witnessing them banter with each other was a real pleasure, although it was Kit who really stole my heart. The other characters are no less remarkable, however, and I appreciated the variations in the ways we get to know them (online vs. “in the flesh”). Looking for Group is a fine story with some delightful twists, and I loved every moment I spent grumbling and gesticulating at...
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