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Jul
28

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Then Came You by Jill Shalvis

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Then Came You by Jill Shalvis Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Then Came You Author: Jill Shalvis Narrator: Karen White Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Animal Magnetism #5 Genre: Contemporary Romance Source: Purchased Doctors Emily and Wyatt had a one-night stand three months ago at a vet conference in Reno. Never expecting to see each other again, it was a bit of a shock when Emily discovers her new supervisor is that sexy man with whom she had an uncharacteristic affair. The revelation that Emily is Belle Haven’s newest intern is equally shocking to Wyatt, who refuses to let his heart be broken by someone with one foot out the door, again. With each return to Sunshine, Idaho, I find myself more in love with the characters and stories of the Animal Magnetism series by Jill Shalvis. This delightful contemporary romance series follows the lives and loves of those who live and work in and around the town’s sizable animal hospital. In Then Came You, we witness two new characters who both work as vets for the Belle Haven clinic. Although both are (mostly) new to the series, the characters fit with ease into Sunshine’s close-knit group. The story is almost the reverse of Kate and Grif’s story (Rumor Has It), with Emily having one foot out the door and ready to head back to sunny LA to work, live, and help care for her father. She’s got a plan, but it’s one that she thinks she should follow to find happiness. It takes Wyatt’s firm but tender romancing, as well as her sister’s blunt heart-to-hearts, to help her see that she needs to make room for her own happiness rather than do what she thinks is best for everyone else. Meanwhile Wyatt thinks he’s open and honest with Emily, but he’s holding back a piece of himself, unwilling to tell Emily just how much he cares for her. Wyatt didn’t have a say in being dragged all over the world by his jet-setting parents growing up, so Wyatt refuses to influence anyone’s decision on where to life. His misguided behavior was frustrating for me at times, but he and Emily were so good together, it didn’t bother me like it may have in other books. In addition to the romance, the book had a semi-mystery that surfaced from time to time, giving the story added tension. Although I pretty much figured out the plot right from the get-go, I appreciated how the author worked...
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Jul
20

Review: True North by Tamsen Parker

Review: True North by Tamsen Parker True North Author: Tamsen Parker Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Get your one-click on, folks. Aficionados of BDSM tales will devour Tamsen Parker’s Compass series. True North, the fourth title, delivers with Parker’s attention to detail, emotional draw, and truly likable characters I wanna just have coffee with, share some stories, and be complete besties with. Let’s be honest here. I was worried when I started reading True North. I don’t have many triggers—at least ones that will make me drop a book like a piece of pottery fresh from firing. I considered it with this title. I’m SUPER glad I didn’t. Here’s your trigger warning, people: there’s berating going on in here. It’s all handled extremely well, and that’s pretty much all I’m going to say about that. Truth? I trusted Ms. Parker to make sure Rey had a handle on that stuff. He totally had it on-lock. You may now jump up and down because Rey is in True North. Readers of the series will be on-board with me. At the end of the title, there was a thank you from the author. There’s another Compass book coming out—this one is Lucy and Evan. However, in book six, “…the inimitable Reyes Walter will find his own happily ever after.” Yes, yes, and MORE YES! I might’ve been a little giddy that India (from Personal Geography & Intimate Geography) had a couple cameos. I miss her and Cris. A lot. So much so, that I think a re-read might be in order. This brings us to Slade. There are things about Slade I like, and other things I really, really dislike. Most of the time, I can get behind everyone’s right to have the kink they want. I wasn’t squicked out by Slade, or anything. I was just… I guess wary is the right word. Our personal experiences in life color the way we see people. Prior unfavorable experiences with someone can definitely conjure flashbacks. It wasn’t that bad. It did make me realize there are some things I probably need to look at, regarding myself, my vulnerabilities. There was one major thing I adored about Slade, though: he realized he had the power to *really* hurt Pressly. He did something about it, rather than ruin something beautiful. For that, I give the man props. Pressly. I simply adored her. She has confidence as well as a soft side, and she’s not afraid to ask...
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Jul
20

Review: Rock Wedding by Nalini Singh

Review: Rock Wedding by Nalini Singh Rock Wedding Author: Nalini Singh Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Nalini Singh wraps up her wonderful Rock Kiss series with Abe and Sarah’s story. Abe and Sarah share a tragic history that was chronicled briefly over the course of the series, so ending with their reunion is a fitting way to cap it off. The couple was married, but it was a very one-sided love. Abe was too wrapped up in the sorrow of his baby sister’s death, staying closed off and afraid to love. Turning to drugs and alcohol to bury his pain, his coldness eventually drove Sarah away, and into the arms of another man. That man wasn’t much better: emotionally abusive and selfish. Abe and Sarah’s story begins again when Abe, now clean and sober, protects Sarah from her ex. This event happened at the end of the previous title, Rock Redemption, and although Rock Wedding starts in the past, the bulk of the story occurs after the end of the prior title. Overall, I really enjoyed reading Rock Wedding and had trouble putting down the book. The best aspect of the story is that it takes place after both Abe and Sarah hit rock bottom, focusing on rebuilding from the ashes rather than watching them crash and burn. Each had grown up and changed mostly prior to the start of the story, and their maturity carried through to an amazing relationship. Rock Wedding was about a healthy, loving relationship. But don’t mistake healthy for easy! There were issues, especially with trust, but there weren’t contrived problems. Sarah and Abe’s journey is highly emotional and rewarding for the reader. I will admit that I was worried at the beginning, with the fact that their reunion is punctuation with what I would call a “repetitive issue.” Work with me folks – I’m trying to be spoiler-free here! However… even though there is a repetitive aspect, Ms. Singh places the focus on Sarah and Abe’s growing relationship, developing trust via actions and words, and the repetitive piece adds to rather than detracts from the story. And the actions Abe takes are extraordinarily kind and sweet; however the couple is full of sexy and hot as well! I loved how open and honest the pair was, sharing and giving equally. I think Rock Wedding may be my favorite book of the series. I especially enjoyed that the hard drama was behind the couple, and this...
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Jul
18

Review: The Best Seller by Dina Rae

Review: The Best Seller by Dina Rae The Best Seller Author: Dina Rae Reviewer: Nima Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: The Best Seller is a solid foundation to an as yet unnamed new science fiction series by Dina Rae.  With the flood of paranormal romance in the last decade, it’s been a long time since I’ve read a book about plain, old fashioned aliens.  We’re talking little green men with big eyes, flying saucers, and government conspiracy. It’s retro in a good way. There’s even a nod to the History Channel’s Ancient Aliens.  (Come on, you know you watch it and rant about the amount of product Giorgio Tsoukalos puts in his hair. I bet you even know how to correctly pronounce “Tsoukalos.”)  It’s the guilty pleasure that makes you feel less stupid than watching the Kardashians. The story begins in 1947 with the infamous Roswell incident and as that blossoms into a fully funded military operation, it flips back and forth with the present day.  In the modern portion of the story, Maya Smock writes a best seller, but unknown to her, a code is embedded in the text with ties back to the Roswell aliens. I love that Rae has included the concept of a deliberate construction within Maya’s book.  It was the construction I loved most about Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn and The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. As Maya skyrockets into literary stardom with the likes of Arthur C. Clark, Issac Asimov, and Ray Bradbury, she comes under the wing of another best-selling author, Jay McCallister who claims to have the same code embedded in his books. The only character I didn’t like was Claude.  It’s easy to say that’s because he’s the “bad guy,” but that’s all he is.  He comes across as one-dimensional, a little too obvious and a little too easy to hate.  Jay McCallister was my favorite character and we barely got to know him.  I’m hoping as Maya moves into new and unexpected territory that we’ll get to know him in new ways through her and her new friends. 1947 is post World War ll and some of Germany’s genetic scientists have ended up not as war criminals, but working for the military out in Roswell Nevada.  If anyone remembers the swastika which flashed briefly as part of Professor Langdon‘s lecture on symbols at the beginning of the Da Vinci Code movie, you’ll remember it was one that the Nazi party appropriated, but...
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Jul
14

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Proven Guilty by Jim Butcher

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Proven Guilty by Jim Butcher Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Dresden Files Series Book: Proven Guilty Author: Jim Butcher Narrator: James Marsters Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Dresden Files #8 Genre: Urban Fantasy / Mystery Source: purchased Proven Guilty After taking a break from the Dresden Files for a few months, listening to Proven Guilty was just what I wanted and needed from this dark urban fantasy series. The war between the Red Court and White Council isn’t going well, meanwhile the Merlin wants to find a way to remove Harry from the Council, permanently. Harry’s mentor, Ebenezer, tips off Harry that the Winter Court (fae) have not joined the war after the Red Court used their lands without permission and that there is a traitor in the Council. So Harry embarks on a secret, multi-faceted mission, where not only is his own life in danger, but that of his dear friend Michael’s daughter, Molly. While Proven Guilty continues the somber storytelling that dominates this series, I found it had a much better balance of light and dark with respect to Dreden’s mental and emotional wellbeing. There is no denying he lives in a dangerous world with the cards stacked against him, but he does have many friends, and Dresden is finally turning to them. I’ll admit that I held my breath while reading most of the first half, waiting for the proverbial shoe to drop right on top of Dresden’s head, Mr. Butcher was able to keep things from going too far, and brought Dresden back from the depths before he hit bottom. But with that said, there were a couple spots I was ready to give up, only to be drawn back in by the excellent storytelling. At the core of Proven Guilty, there is a mystery, and Dresden is back doing what he does best: piecing clues together to uncover the truth. As he does so, he discovers that the overall picture is much bigger than he initially expected, with an unknown threat that could be the ultimate foe. This journey allows Dresden to expunge some of the guilty he’s been carrying around for the past year or so, as well as strengthen friendships and alliances he’ll need to stay on “right” side of that fine line between dark and light. While we see Dresden work through his relationships with a few key characters, it is his heart-to-hearts with longtime colleague and friend, Karen, that gave me all the...
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Jul
13

Review: Ruined by Shiloh Walker

Review: Ruined by Shiloh Walker Ruined Author: Shiloh Walker Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A What I’m Talking About: Love tortured heroes who get a well-deserved Happily Ever After? Shiloh Walker is the master. And, these Barnes Brothers books? They are like the how-to guide for overcoming adversity. Ruined is the fourth title in the Barnes Brothers series. While it’s not necessary to read the books in order, I recommend it. We get cameos from other couples from earlier in the series, and it’d just make more sense (besides getting to see what’s up with those previous main characters). Sebastien’s brothers, his family, are really important to him, and we see the love and nurturing from those relatives throughout the title. This is a great book to show a model nuclear family, as well. Mr. & Mrs. Barnes have raised a brood of rambunctious boys who have ended up being wonderful men. Sebastien is a great example. Sebastien Barnes was the second brother to make it big in show business. His older brother, Zach, was on a TV series and Seb was ‘discovered’. He’s been on this rollercoaster career ride, and he took it in stride—being the playboy and never outwardly wanting to settle down. While he’s carried a torch for Marin for a long, LONG time, he was unable to act on it because Marin is a… bit older than he is. They were at different places in their lives. It’s probably a good thing Marin and Seb didn’t hook up previously, to be honest. Sebastien dated this girl that ended up in a… situation. He became… involved, and ended up with a scar on his previously pretty-boy face. I pictured Seb like the boy next door. Gorgeous, well-built, polite, and able to manipulate the media like a master. It’s only natural he’d think his scar would be a career ender. Oh, and the whole ‘incident’ totally jacked with his head. He fell into this huge abyss of self-blame and had a huge pity-party for himself. Pretty natural, right? I mean, who wouldn’t? His entire life had been turned upside down. Stop. Reframe. When I have a major life-changer coming on, I am pretty good at playing recluse. THIS was Seb’s ticket to hermit-dom. I half expected a volleyball with a bloody handprint to show up because Seb put himself on a figurative island surrounded with great white sharks, man-o-war jellyfish, and every other dangerous sea creature imaginable. Enter: Marin. It’s like that girl kept...
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Jul
12

Review: The Summer Bride by Anne Gracie

Review: The Summer Bride by Anne Gracie The Summer Bride Author: Anne Gracie Reviewer: Ang Rating: A What I’m Talking About: I have loved the Chance Sisters series since I read The Autumn Bride in 2013, but of all the sisters, Daisy has always been my favorite. Her spunky candor, hard-working nature, tender heart, and lioness-like protectiveness of those she loves won me over the moment I met her. The Summer Bride did not disappoint in my memories of Daisy or in my getting to know Finn, who was able to meet Miss Daisy tit-for-tat and balanced her humor while teaching her that trust is not always misplaced and it’s never a mistake to love someone. I thoroughly enjoyed Finn and Daisy’s chemistry, banter, and watching them both learn that often times what is need most is what we are most scared of. I also really enjoyed watching Finn work for Daisy and watching Daisy’s annoyance at being courted all while slowly realizing that their friendship has laid a firm foundation for an amazing and safe love. I love that Finn supported and waited for Daisy as she learned the lessons she needed to so that she could commit completely to their relationship, all while letting her think she was running the show. Because he knew she needed that control, even if he didn’t entirely understand why. I really loved Finn as a whole. He may have been raised poor, but he had the heart of a gentleman and went out of his way to protect anyone under his care, real or perceived, much like Daisy, which is one the reasons they suit one another so well. As usual Ms. Gracie gave us the perfect overview of the other sister’s stories so if someone picked up Daisy’s story and wasn’t familiar with the other girls they’d still be ok. She also continued to give us secondary characters that were well-written and added fun color to the story without diverting attention from Daisy and Finn. In some cases, those characters gave us even better insights into who Daisy and Finn are and why. Lady Beatrice continued to be the perfect balance of friend and protector, and the end of the novel made me tear up. It really was the perfect ending to this series. Overall, if you love the other Chance Sisters titles you certainly won’t want to miss Daisy, and if you aren’t familiar with the sisters I think you’ll still really love her. The Summer...
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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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Jul
5

Review: Paper and Fire by Rachel Caine

Review: Paper and Fire by Rachel Caine Paper and Fire Author: Rachel Caine Reviewers: Gikany and Una Rating: A/A- What We’re Talking About: Gikany and Una have really enjoyed this new series, The Great Library.  The first novel, Ink and Bone, was a captivating and thrilling page-turner.  Paper and Fire ramps it up even more, with an unexpected twist at the end. As with our review of Ink and Bone, it is very difficult for us to do our normal discussion type review.  From the beginning of Paper and Fire, the plot begins to twist and turn, revealing some truths while hinting at other plots.  It would be far too easy to spoil this novel.  So we apologize for this terse and vague review. Jess continues to be the central character.  We follow him in the new chapter of his life as part of the Library.  As a bottom-rung cadet, he has very little power, but if the Library thinks they can control him, they are very wrong.  Jess continues to seek answers, find out the truth of his friends, and search for a way to change the brutal dictatorial nature of the library.  Although he never is completely sure whom he can trust, Jess knows he will never be able to free Morgan without help. This series continues to mesmerize us.  Although it can be argued whether this is a young adult series or fantasy, there are topics that are strictly for the more mature reader: torture, rape, and war.  The nefarious plots of the different factions all weave around each other, and all seem to be against Jess.  It is overwhelmingly and incredibly addicting.  We especially enjoyed the painfully clear depiction that no matter how gilded the cage is, it is still a prison. The end came as quite a surprise to us as the novel goes in a completely unexpected direction.  But it is one that makes sense and holds an intriguing possibility.  We eagerly look forward to the next book in this series.  If you haven’t picked it up yet, you are seriously missing out on a well crafted, addicting, and suspenseful world. Our Rating: A/A-  Enjoyed A Lot About the Book: With an iron fist, The Great Library controls the knowledge of the world, ruthlessly stamping out all rebellion, forbidding the personal ownership of books in the name of the greater good. Jess Brightwell has survived his introduction to the sinister, seductive world of the Library, but serving in its army is...
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Jul
5

Quickie Review: Once Upon a Moonlit Night by Elizabeth Hoyt

Quickie Review: Once Upon a Moonlit Night by Elizabeth Hoyt Once Upon a Moonlit Night Author: Elizabeth Hoyt Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: This enjoyable little novella shares the story of Hippolyta Royle, the most eligible bachelorette in all of London, who was kidnapped by the dastardly Duke of Montgomery in the previous full-length Maiden Lane title, Duke of Sin. Having escaped her imprisonment, she flagged down the carriage of Matthew Mortimer, Earl of Paxton, begging for assistance in her return to London. Meanwhile, Matthew hardly believes the story the smelly, beggar maid weaves, claiming to be a lady of society. Yet, despite his beliefs, he can’t help but be drawn to this exotic beauty. I absolutely adored Hippolyta and Matthew’s story. Short and sweet, they followed their hearts despite what society dictates. One needn’t have read any books in the series to fully enjoy Once Upon a Moonlit Night. The standalone story may be short, but it’s full of passion and humor. I love that the pair discovered their attraction and desires prior to being discovered, and that they dealt with issues as a couple. Once Upon a Moonlit Night is a wonderful standalone love story and a perfect introduction to Ms. Hoyt’s Maiden Lane series. I loved watching Hippolyta and Matthew fall for one another, and the entire story is a delightful afternoon read. My Rating:  A- Enjoyed A Lot About the Book: Hippolyta Royle is running for her life. Pursued by hounds on a cold rainy night, the heiress flags down a passing carriage and throws herself at the mercy of the coach’s occupant. Whoever this handsome traveler may be, he is her only hope to escape a terrible fate. But should he agree to escort her to safety, he’s in for much more than he bargained for. At first Matthew Mortimer doesn’t believe Hippolyta’s story, that she’s a fabulously wealthy heiress who’s been kidnapped. He assumes she’s a beggar, an actress, or worse. But once his new travel companion washes the mud from her surprisingly lovely face, and they share a breathtaking kiss, there is no turning back. Release Date: July 2, 2016 Publisher: Forever Yours Series: Maiden Lane #10.5 Genre: Historical Romance, novella Format(s): e-book, audiobook Book Source: NetGalley Purchase Info: Amazon Reviews in the Series: Duke of Sin by Elizabeth Hoyt (Maiden Lane...
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