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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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Jul
18

Review + Giveaway: Top to Bottom by Delphine Dryden

Review + Giveaway: Top to Bottom by Delphine Dryden Top to Bottom Author: Delphine Dryden Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: Mistress Amie lives day-to-day without attachments. She loves her job at the gym, but the only person she has any type of bond with is her ex, Mara, whom she’s sent away for good to a new club, Escape. She used to love the crowd and scenes at her current club, but now, the club just feels drama-filled and tired. Dru is determined to make club Escape work. On her own, she seeks the advice of her onetime college partner, Amie, to help the club break even. What she didn’t expect is to have feelings for Amie, even after their initial reunion left little to be desired. Top to Bottom is a love story of two women finding their way back to one another after many years. Although the years in between college and current day were filled with significant life trials, shaping each woman into someone slightly different and a bit stronger. Top to Bottom shares the final stage of each female’s development; both taking that final step to heal and love. Amie’s wild and crazy ways condemned her to homelessness when her family discovered her kissing another girl. With all of her college friends gone, Amie struggled until she found her first job. Understanding the hardship and humiliation of living on the streets, and the pain of loneliness after being cast out by her family, Amie doesn’t trust easily. Dru gives her balance and a safe place to share herself. While I found the falling (back) into love part a bit too easy, or rather than it felt like it happened under the radar, it was still believable because of the pair’s dynamic when we did see them together, opening up and therefore, growing. Dru pushes Amie with just the right amount of determination, until Amie realizes she can trust again. Meanwhile, Dru has lived a pretty good life, until she lost her partner. Opening the club was their dream, and Dru is determined to make it work. However, someone is out to ruin her and/or her club, and giving up may be the easier option. At times I felt like Dru saw Amie as a case to manage – something broken to be fixed – and that’s what drove the relationship. However, it was done because she cared, and she was ready to move on with her life. Dru saw past...
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Jul
6

Review + Giveaway: What Remains by Garrett Leigh

Review + Giveaway: What Remains by Garrett Leigh What Remains Author: Garrett Leigh Reviewer: B. Rating: A What I’m Talking About: The only thing vibrant, independent Jodi Peters wanted from his rare evening out was to have a little fun, then go back home to his comfortable no-strings life. He never expected the captivating bouncer who tossed a small herd of drunken idiots out of a bar to walk him home. Of course, inviting the man inside certainly hadn’t been on his to-do list for the evening, either, but he wasn’t about to let the strongest attraction he’d ever felt slip away. Recently divorced and newly out, Rupert O’Neil doesn’t exactly have his life in order when he meets the hipster-scruffed, not-entirely-sober web designer outside the bar where he works on the weekends. Fighting fires is everything he wants in a day job, but it isn’t enough to keep a decent roof over his head and support the daughter he adores, especially when his ex-wife is set on making him as miserable as possible. But, as flirtation with a stranger turns into love, his world becomes as close to perfect as he ever could have hoped for—and far too good to last. Although I was only introduced to her writing recently, Ms. Leigh has quickly become a new favorite. I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve read by her so far, even though each of those stories has broken my heart a little. Which, admittedly, is part of the draw. Not content to have her characters “merely” struggling to find love, they must fight unfavorable odds to keep it when the world seems intent on wrenching it away. Fortunately, the scale is tipped towards the hopeful side of the equation just enough in What Remains, and it works. Unlike many other stories I’ve read (irrespective of genre), I liked both main characters in What Remains equally well. Jodi and Rupert are each wonderful in very different ways. Jodi is the more open of the pair, always quick with a joke, and unabashedly determined when it comes to loving Rupert. Rupert, by contrast, is quieter—mostly, I imagine, from the responsibilities he shoulders all the time. He’s more practical and uncertain, yet he’s no less resolute in his devotion to Jodi. Jodi almost shines too brightly compared to Rupert’s more reserved demeanor, but, the combination of personalities is actually perfect. What Remains is also one of those stories that needs to be experienced and shouldn’t be reduced to a few perfunctory statements....
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Jun
14

Q & A + ARC #Giveaway with Piper J. Drake

Q & A + ARC #Giveaway with Piper J. Drake Today we are celebrating the upcoming release of Ultimate Courage by Piper J. Drake (July 26, 2016 by Forever Publishing) with an awesome ARC (advance review copy) GIVEAWAY of Piper’s book! Plus, Piper stopped by to answer a couple questions about her True Heroes series. Woo hoo! Keep reading for more about the book and giveaway. Jen: Dogs and military heroes… what a wonderful combination. Isn’t there something extra sexy about a man who loves animals? Was there any specific event or situation that inspired you to write the True Heroes series? Piper: A man who loves and has a good understanding of animals with a care for their well-being is incredibly sexy! The True Heroes series actually grew out of a brainstorming conversation with my agent, though. She’s amazing. We were chatting in general and I started to share my experiences with my rescued German Shepherd Dog, Kaiser, as well as my Chelsea, and a dog staying in my care, Mozart. She listened to me tell her about how smart these dogs were, especially Kaiser with his Schutzhund training and Mozart with his military explosives detection training. Right in the middle of one of many anecdotes about the shenanigans my dogs would get up to, my agent looked at me and told me this was it. This was the next series I should focus on writing. And she was right. The True Heroes series has been my favorite to write to date. Jen: What kinds of research have you done for the series? What was the most interesting thing you learned about working with dogs? Drawing on my interactions with Kaiser and Mozart provides the foundation for the canine personalities in the series, especially Kaiser. When I first rescued him, I worked closely with a Schutzhund trainer to rehabilitate Kaiser from being an outdoor guard dog with barely any socialization to a personal companion safely living in a suburban home. With Kaiser, I also worked with at least two former K9 policemen in both formal and informal training. I read several books on the training of military working dogs, particularly the multi-purpose canines of Special Operations. Most recently, Christopher Baity, executive director of Semper K9 (http://www.semperk9.org/) has been kind enough to answer my ongoing questions about training military working dogs and also training service dogs to partner with veterans after active duty. I learned that working with dogs–these brilliant and loving dogs with such dauntless personalities–changes you fundametally....
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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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