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Jun
13

Review + Giveaway: All the Wrong Places by Ann Gallagher

Review + Giveaway: All the Wrong Places by Ann Gallagher All The Wrong Places Author: Ann Gallagher Reviewer: B. Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Despite the risks of his career as a semi-pro skateboarder, most things in Brennan Cross’ life are good. He’s got a job he likes, good friends, and is working towards his dream of competing in the X Games someday. Even though his personal life is a little shaky at present, his biggest problem isn’t that his girlfriend cheated on him—it’s that she’s the third one to do so. And the fact that all three have blamed Brennan’s inability to meet their sexual “needs” has left him more than a little confused. Now, Brennan has questions. Where better to find some answers than the local sex shop? As a single father and a Muslim working in an adult toy shop, Zafir Hamady knows he’s an anomaly. Being asexual as well just adds to the list of complications that has kept him single for so long. Sure, he’s lonely, but all he really wants to do is give his son a good home and every opportunity to have a better life. The last thing he needs is to fall for the seemingly straight, yet very lost, skater who wandered into his store right after an ugly breakup. Too bad his heart has other ideas. I’ve been very excited to see an increase in Ace titles and characters in the last year or so, and not at all surprised to see the topic addressed so well in a Bluewater Bay story. Asexuality is a broad, multifaceted, yet little-explored topic, but I think that the author of All the Wrong Places approaches quite a few of these issues with compassion and respect that I appreciated a great deal. I liked both Brennan and Zafir a great deal, even though they are about as different from one another as possible—at least in the beginning. As the vehicle for self-discovery, I thought Brennan was very likable, for the most part, and was especially pleased to see that he was both serious and introspective, rather than a flaky caricature of skateboarding culture. It is Zafir, however, who is the heart of the story, and it was his cautious yearning and affection that really drew me in. While this story could easily have turned into a “How to be Asexual” pamphlet, I found it to be so much more. From the support group where Brennan begins to feel less isolated to Zafir’s...
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Jun
12

Sunday Snippet + Giveaway: Magic of the Gargoyles by Rebecca Chasten

Sunday Snippet + Giveaway: Magic of the Gargoyles by Rebecca Chasten  About the Book Magic of the Gargoyles    Author:  Rebecca Chastain Publisher:   Self-published Released:  October 20, 2014 Series:   Gargoyle Guardian Chronicles #1 Genre:  Fantasy Author contact links:   Facebook, Goodreads, Newsletter, Twitter, Website Purchase links:  Amazon US, Amazon Snippet With one last twist of a filament of earth magic, I fused together the delicate seams of the quartz tube. Slumping forward, I braced my elbows on the table and rested my cheekbones on my palms, cupping my weary eyes in darkness. Six down, six finicky tubes to go. The specifications of this project taxed my substantial skills with quartz magic, which was the point. This project would launch my business and prove that even though I was only a midlevel earth elemental, my quartz skills were equal to or better than more powerful full-spectrum elementals. These fussy tubes would fund the down payment on the lease for the shop I coveted in the Pinnacle Pentagon Center. I could finally quit my demeaning job at Jones and Sons Quarry, be my own boss, and begin a career creating one-of-a-kind quartz masterpieces I could take pride in. My entire future rested on these fragile vials, and they were due tomorrow at four. Dull pain pounded my back muscles. Night had crept over the city while I worked, and my jerky movements as I stood and stretched were reflected in the semicircle of bay windows in front of my worktable. Purple smears of exhaustion beneath my green eyes were exaggerated in the dark windows, and my pale face floated above a dirt-smeared navy shirt. I checked the clock: almost midnight. Sixteen hours until my deadline, and eight of those would be taken up by my Jones and Sons workday. There was no time for a break. If anything, I needed to work faster. Groaning, I redid my ponytail, tucking shorter wisps of strawberry-blond hair behind my ears before giving my hard wooden chair the stink eye. Mentally chanting, Pinnacle Pentagon, to motivate myself, I reached for another seed crystal. Frantic tapping shook the glass in the balcony door. I pulled the door open, knowing it was Kylie, my best friend and the tenant who shared my second-floor apartment balcony. “I really can’t talk. I need to finish—” “Help! Help! They’ve got—” Something small and hard slammed into my stomach. I staggered backward into my chair and crashed to the floor. A small boulder skipped across the wooden floor and smashed into the wall. “You’re...
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May
31

Release Day Blitz: The Darkest Torment by Gena Showalter

Release Day Blitz: The Darkest Torment by Gena Showalter The Queen of Paranormal Romance, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Gena Showalter, returns with THE DARKEST TORMENT, the eagerly anticipated twelfth novel in her Lords of the Underworld series, available now! Grab your copy today! Get your copy of THE DARKEST TORMENT here! Amazon * Kindle * Barnes & Noble * Nook * Book Depository * GooglePlay *iBooks* BAM * Kobo * IndieBound THE DARKEST TORMENT Synopsis: New York Times bestselling author Gena Showalter returns with her most explosive Lords of the Underworld tale to date, about a fierce warrior on the brink of sanity who will stop at nothing to claim the exquisite human with the power to soothe the beast inside him… Driven to his death by the demon of Distrust, Baden spent centuries in purgatory. Now he’s back, but at what cost? Bound to the king of the underworld, an even darker force, he’s unable to withstand the touch of another…and he’s quickly devolving into a heartless assassin with an uncontrollable temper. Things only get worse when a mission goes awry and he finds himself saddled with a bride—just not his own. Famed dog trainer Katarina Joelle is forced to marry a monster to protect her loved ones. When she’s taken hostage by the ruthless, beautiful Baden immediately after the ceremony, she’s plunged into a war between two evils—with a protector more dangerous than the monsters he hunts. They are meant to be enemies, but neither can resist the passion burning between them…and all too soon the biggest threat is to her heart. But as Baden slips deeper into the abyss, she’ll have to teach him to love…or lose him forever. Add it to your Goodreads Now! And don’t miss the previous titles in the Lords of the Underworld Series! THE DARKEST NIGHT THE DARKEST KISS THE DARKEST PLEASURE THE DARKEST WHISPER THE DARKEST PASSION THE DARKEST LIE THE DARKEST SECRET THE DARKEST SURRENDER THE DARKEST SEDUCTION THE DARKEST CRAVING THE DARKEST TOUCH Excerpt: Katarina wasn’t afraid of Baden. Not anymore. He took a step to the side, intending to move around her. Oh, no. She flattened her hands on his shoulders, keeping him in place. “I want to know what’s wrong with you.” She said. “Tell me.” He snapped his teeth at her in a show of dominance. “You think you want to know my problem. You’re wrong.” Her tone dry, she said, “I’m so glad you know my mind better than...
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May
11

Review: Dominated by Maya Banks + #Giveaway

Review: Dominated by Maya Banks + #Giveaway Dominated Author: Maya Banks Reviewer: VampBard Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: I’m not sure what it is, but Dominated felt really slow to me until about the 70% mark. I was a bit meh about the characters, and annoyed by the characterization. I think I’m going to chalk it up, however, to the fact that I just wasn’t in the mood for this type of book. Evangeline started of as a pretty whiny character. She irritated my soul when she was with or around Drake, to be honest. The glimpses of her with Maddox and Silas balanced it out for me, a little though. I’ve never been a fan of the sweet and innocent turning submissive when they’re super inexperienced, either. I think D/s relationships are something to be explored after there’s trust in a relationship. Which brings me to another issue I had with the book. Evangeline went back to Drake after an incident from the previous title in the Enforcers series. To be honest, I cannot identify with Evangeline at all. As a person, I am larger-than-life and in-your-face about things—once I get to know and trust you. I’m about empowerment, not oppression. That’s exactly how I felt the relationship between Drake and Evangeline was. I’m willing, however, to note that it’s probably due to my own past. Maybe I saw too much of my former self in Evangeline, and too much of my ex in Drake. Again, it’s a really personal thing. I’m not going to recommend this title to someone with a history of emotional abuse. It’s triggering. Drake is a typical self-made billionaire with a dash of The Godfather tossed in. I don’t mean the Marlon Brando character specifically—just the whole mafia vibe. Until he was whiny for a while. Alpha males that get whiny when they’re broken annoy me. This could TOTALLY be my perception, though. Seriously. And the sex. OMG. I think from the 20% to the 70% mark, this title was All. The. Sex. In LOTS of ways. Menage involved, folks—if that’s not your reading kink, pass on this one. Actually, it got to be too much and I caught myself skimming until the ménage scene for a bit. Seriously, I think my favorite parts of Dominated involved Silas. I’d be all-in if he were to get a book and get a HEA. Maddox too. And all the rest of Drake’s brothers. And, at about the 70% mark, it got...
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Apr
25

Geeky Giving Spotlight: April Bundle

Geeky Giving Spotlight: April Bundle What is Geeky Giving? Each month Geeky Giving will produce a bundle of exclusive short stories and novellas. These science fiction and fantasy books by your favorite authors will only be available through Geeky Giving, and 100 percent of the money raised goes directly to Barrow Neurological Institute to research cures for Alzheimer’s, ALS, brain tumors, Parkinson’s Disease, and more. The third monthly bundle will be available starting April 25, 2016, and will be delivered as a thank you for making a donation of at least $5. Know you’re going to want all four bundles? A $25 donation to Barrow scores you every monthly bundle. At the end of this project, there are plans to create a complete anthology of all stories with a special capstone story not available anywhere else. Print and e-book copies will be available. Authors who are already contributing stories to this great cause include: A.C. Wise Amanda Bonilla Edward Ashton Heather Clithroe James Knapp Jeff Somers JY Yang Karina Cooper Mary Robinette Kowal Michael J. Martinez Robert Lowell Russell Shaun David Hutchinson Sierra Dean Each bundle will also feature original cover art created just for this project, including works from Jessica Robinson and Sal V. Cloak. In addition, you’ll have a chance to win amazing swag including: Phoenix Comicon full event passes, signed books from Kelley Armstrong, Michelle Belanger, Patricia Briggs, Rachel Caine, Diana Gabaldon, Kevin Hearne, Kameron Hurley, Helen Lowe, Chloe Neill, Delia Sherman, Chuck Wendig and so much more! Learn more about Geeky Giving at http://www.geekygiving.org Donate directly to the cause via https://www.supportbarrow.org/geekygiving Geeky Giving April 2016 Book Bundle Geeky Giving is proud to share it’s third monthly book bundle featuring original science fiction and fantasy works by bright stars within the genre fiction community. The Geeky Giving April volume will be available on April 25, 2016, and includes: “Comfort in Darkness” by Amanda Bonilla–a novella set in the Shaede Assassin world! “Dismantling London” by JY Yang “Coping Strategies” by KB Spangler Would you love to read these stories? Securing your copy of the Geeky Giving April 2016 Bundle is easy. Make a donation to the Geeky Giving project (supporting Barrow Neurological Foundation, read more about why we help Barrow) of any amount over $5, and then follow the instructions in your confirmation email to receive your digital book. Epub and mobi formats available and will be delivered within 48 hours of receiving your confirmation email. Don’t forget: In addition to these great SF/F works, we’ve put together some...
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Apr
19

Review + Giveaway: Selfie by Amy Lane

Review + Giveaway: Selfie by Amy Lane Selfie Author: Amy Lane Reviewer: B. Rating: A What I’m Talking About: The Bluewater Bay series has continually proven to be among the best I’ve ever read, and Selfie, by Amy Lane, is one my favorites to date. Told from the perspective of Connor Montgomery, movie star and grieving “basket case,” it isn’t the tale of a Phoenix rising, or miraculous rebirth. It is, rather, a story about coping and healing, honesty and loss, and loving again. To begin with, Ms. Lane is an undeniable asset to this series, as was already proven with her previous additions, “Nascha” (from Lights, Camera, Cupid!) and The Deep of the Sound. I absolutely fell in love with these characters. Connor is, frankly, a heart-broken mess. He’s also enviably strong, quirky beyond reason, and kind to a fault. My heart ached for him over and over, but I couldn’t stop hoping that he would be okay with everything in me. As much as I liked Connor, though, Noah Dakers, local Philosophy grad and driver/bodyguard/PA/etc. for the studio producing “Wolf’s Landing,” stole my heart and kept it. Noah is gorgeous, inside and out. I can’t think of a single thing I didn’t completely love about him. He’s incredibly astute, patient, funny, brilliantly sarcastic, sexier than should surely be allowed, so loving it hurts—pretty much perfect in all the ways that make me want to read Selfie again and again. While Connor and Noah are the two main characters, it would be wrong to ignore Connor’s former love, Vinnie, as the third. He’s simply always there. One thing that I appreciated a great deal about Ms. Lane’s treatment of his memory is that it changes as Connor tries to find a way to live again. Initially, his perfection is suggested by the enormity of his absence in Connor’s life. But, that idyllic love starts to break down memory by memory, becoming something real—cracked and frayed in places, and giving Connor’s reawakening a weight it might not otherwise have had. Just as important, I think, is that, while Vinnie’s flaws are presented with a stripped-bare honesty, it is done without taking the easy out and completely vilifying him. One of the most beautiful things about Selfie is its treatment of the unquantifiable nature of grief. Through the characters’ various perspectives, Ms. Lane dissects the reality of loss and presents it as a living, evolving entity, unique to each individual, even though common threads may be shared...
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Apr
13

Review + Giveaway: My Perfect Mistake by Kelly Siskind

Review + Giveaway: My Perfect Mistake by Kelly Siskind My Perfect Mistake Author: Kelly Siskind Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: For five years, Shay did everything for Richard and then he dumped her. During those years, Shay changed who she was to please Richard, even leaving behind an amazing job opportunity. Now she and her best friends, Lily and Raven, are in Aspen for a crazy ski weekend, reclaiming the pre-Dick Shay. Kolton and his buddies, Sawyer and Nico, escaped their crazy lives to have some time away on the slopes of Aspen. His boutique outerwear business with Sawyer is taking off and being a single dad is wearing him down. This is the longest Kolton has been away from his 7-year-old son, Jackson, but he needs some time to regroup. When a collision on the slopes literally pushes Kolton and Shay together, neither can stand to be around the other, but they also realize they can’t fight their powerful attraction.  My Perfect Mistake is an enemies-to-lovers romance, with the pair alternating between arguing and making out. The I-Hate-You-But-I-Want-You spark ignites some explosive emotions and leads to passionate sex. Shay and Kolton’s story isn’t necessarily wholly original or written in magical prose, yet their journey gripped me, kept me glued to the kindle, and captured me. Their romance is powerful and absorbing all at once. I was invested in their success, both professionally and romantically, and I enjoyed almost every moment of the book (although I wasn’t happy with the set up for Kolton’s mea culpa). I appreciate that the author doesn’t dumb down the issues surrounding the couple, rather making the characters talk and work through problems. Ms. Siskind excels at the little moments. She finds ways for the characters to express the depths of their feelings in both small moments and grand gestures. For example, early on in the book, Kolton reflects back on the four days he spent with Shay in Aspen. In one paragraph, we learn exactly how much Shay effected Kolton and altered his life on the inside. While he hasn’t changed his routine or lifestyle, he realizes more than ever, he wants Shay in his life… and that Shay has replaced his first love, Marina, as the benchmark to measure all potential dates and mates. It’s well-timed and simply put, packing a powerful punch. Kolton and Shay are explosive and passionate. While they both have hang-ups, I like that their passion takes control often, which is how they...
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Apr
11

Blog Tour + Review + Giveaway: The Empty Hourglass by Cornelia Grey

Blog Tour + Review + Giveaway: The Empty Hourglass by Cornelia Grey Hello! I’m Cornelia Grey—welcome to the Empty Hourglass blog tour! At various tour stops, I’ll be sharing some secrets about my writing process, sources of inspiration and future projects! Comment on each stop to be entered in a drawing for a $15 Riptide Publishing gift card and the two previous titles in the Deal with a Devil series—Devil at the Crossroads and The Circus of the Damned—in an e-book format of your choice. Thank you for joining me on the tour! Review The Empty Hourglass Author: Cornelia Grey Reviewer: B. Rating: B What I’m Talking About: After losing his hand, as well as his beloved workshop, in a fire, Thomas Escott wants nothing more than to find a way to make things be as they were before. When a mysterious letter points him in the direction of an enigmatic inventor who’s touted as a genius in the creation of prosthetics, he thinks he’s found the answer to his prayers. But, as the truth begins to unfold, Thomas discovers that heaven has little to do with it. Jethro Hastings gave up on everything, save for an extremely costly secret invention, after personal tragedy left him heartbroken and lost. Having secluded himself away in a decaying mansion with nothing but his work—and the rapid passage of time—to keep him company, the last thing he expected was the intriguingly capable toy maker who turned up on his doorstep. But, with the minutes running out, and a devil waiting in the wings, redemption may be beyond either man’s reach. While I have enjoyed the Deal with the Devil series as a whole, I felt that this story was missing something. Although Jethro and Thomas have independently compelling backgrounds that led them to the main conflict within the narrative, I wasn’t as drawn in by them as I was by the events and characters of the second story in the series, Circus of the Damned. Having said that, I still think there is plenty about The Empty Hourglass to like. A common theme that The Empty Hourglass continues, and which works nicely in this series, is the loss of purpose in the face of other worries and vices, such as hopelessness and grief, but also vanity and an unhealthy quest for glory. One of my favorite things about this story, however, is the author’s ongoing ability to make a postponement of damnation a kind of salvation instead at the hands of a soft-hearted devil...
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Apr
4

Review + Short Story: Shadow Rites by Faith Hunter

Review + Short Story: Shadow Rites by Faith Hunter Shadow Rites Author: Faith Hunter Reviewer: B. Rating: A What I’m Talking About: Picking up a few weeks after the end of the previous story, Shadow Rites finds Jane and Co. at the center of yet another potentially fatal dilemma. Beginning with a magical attack on her house in the middle of the night by unknown witches, it starts with an adrenaline rush and maintains that frenetic pace throughout. Jane has changed over the course of the series, however, and, unlike the impersonal nature she once wrapped herself in so determinedly, there’s an undercurrent of affection in her now that makes her even more compelling. Far from the impulsive loner that she once was, Jane has learned many, many things since she first began working with the other supernatural elements that populate the series. Jane is a hero, in every sense of the word. While there’s nothing she wouldn’t do to save those she loves, in recent stories she often “runs the numbers” to gauge how much of herself she can sacrifice for them and live in order to do the same again in the future, should they have need. Just as important, however, is that Jane is no longer acting on her own, and those who love her are entitled to make sacrifices for her, in turn—a fact she’s still trying to accept. One of the most interesting aspects of these stories is that each is built around a specific happening or mystery, the components of which may at once fill in missing information from previous novels, while laying the ground work for events yet to come. Shadow Rites further expands on this template, the pieces of unsolved puzzles from earlier titles suddenly snapping into place, thereby reshaping Jane’s world to accommodate even more unknowns. It’s been an intriguing pattern so far. While the Jane Yellowrock series works perfectly well without an excess of romance coloring the narrative, the fact that Jane still has a mostly-steady love life in Shadow Rites was particularly delightful. The intimacy between Jane and Bruiser is a hard-won thing, and I think Ms. Hunter is spot on to limit these interactions to anticipation and the happily reflective afterglow that follows—at least until the next disaster has them both taking off at a sprint. Bruiser is too much the gentleman, and Jane too private, to justify anything sexually gratuitous. I think my favorite thing about this story is that, all this time, Jane has...
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Mar
28

Review + Giveaway: Nobody But You by Jill Shalvis

Review + Giveaway: Nobody But You by Jill Shalvis Nobody But You Author: Jill Shalvis Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: Sophie Marren was a naive, young bride who married the first man who paid her some attention. Too bad Lucas turned out to be such a jerk. He kicked her out, emptied her checking account, and left her with nothing. However, when the judge asked what she wanted in the divorce, she was so angry, she took the one thing that would hurt her ex the most: his precious boat. Now she’s unemployed and broke, living on a boat she hates. Vowing never to fall in love again, she doesn’t trust herself around the sexy Jacob Kincaid. Jacob Kincaid is home on leave for the first time in nine years. When he left Cedar Ridge to join the Army, his twin brother and best friend, Hudson, told him never to return, and so Jacob didn’t. However, after his buddy was killed in a meaningless roadside bombing, Jacob decides it is time to make amends. What he didn’t expect was to fall for a funny, sexy woman who is hiding on a boat in his lake. While Nobody But You is the third book in the Cedar Ridge series, I had no trouble jumping into the series without having read the first two titles. Jacob and Sophie are injured souls who are lost in their lives. Their immediate attraction drew me in and kept me interested in their story. Early on, they share a few drinks and let their guards down, having an honest heart-to-heart, once again, drawing me into their relationship. I adored Jacob; how much he feels for Sophie and how he wants to do right for her and his family. He’s honorable and caring, albeit a bit stubborn. His POV was filled with his fears and desires over his feelings for Sophie, and I loved knowing how hard he was falling for her. Sophie was a mixed bag for me. I admire her determination and obstinance, yet at the same time, she felt very wishy-washy. I had issues with her constant stance that she would never fall in love again, yet after a very short time, she has no problem falling for Jacob.The “I love you” came way too soon. Sophie and Jacob are two deeply wounded people, and I understand his willingness to jump in with two feet, but not hers. The whole premise of the story is that she’s not...
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