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Oct
23

Review: Legs by Kelly Siskind

Review: Legs by Kelly Siskind Legs Author: Kelly Siskind Reviewer: Jen Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Legs is the delightful and heart-felt start to Kelly SIskind’s new One Wild Wish series. Bringing wit, a strong female lead, and a whole lot of heart to this first book, Ms. Siskind has once again created a world and group of friends I would love to be part of. At times I was laughing out loud, while sniffling during others. Set in and around the wine country of Northern California, Rachel and Jimmy meet when she shouts an embarrassing statement just as the music stops at the nightclub where she is celebrating her birthday with her BFFs. Soon the two are vying for the same sommelier position in a silly contest. What starts out as playful flirtation, turns into a intoxicating love affair, one that pushes comfort zones and tests the heart. Jimmy is a powerful man who owns his emotions, even when they get a bit out of control. Having been hurt by his family and the woman he was set to marry, Jimmy is slow to trust and isn’t looking for the sunshine Rachel brings into his life. Meanwhile, Rachel is so scared of disappointing her mother again, that she’s living an unfulfilling life and playing it safe. Jimmy shows her that it’s okay to be who she really is inside, but she often lets her fears keep him at arm’s length. I enjoyed watching the pair come together. I loved how Jimmy realizes what Rachel means to him and works hard to bring her around. Yet when he makes mistakes, it’s bad. However, between Rachel’s kind and forgiving heart and Jimmy’s own insight, the pair can move past hurts towards a better future. The story takes some ups and downs as it progresses to its HEA. One of the lows is near the beginning, after the pair’s initial hookup. *potential spoiler alert* Rachel was so inebriated that doesn’t recall their marathon all-nighter. *end spoiler* This situation is used by Jimmy to taunt and tease Rachel, and I was a little uncomfortable with the entire situation. However, Ms. Siskind spins it in such a way that eventually worked for me as it progressed. Additionally, there is a twist in the later part of the book that at first had me thinking “really?” but as it moved forward, once again worked out. I like that the author could put me in uncomfortable situations and then...
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Oct
19

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Familiar Motives by Delia James

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Familiar Motives by Delia James Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Reviews: Witch’s Cat Mysteries Familiar Motives Author: Delia James Narrator: Elise Arsenault Audio Listening Speed: 1.5x Series: Witch’s Cat Mystery #3 Genre: Urban Fantasy / Cozy Mystery Source: Tantor Audio I continue to enjoy the Witch’s Cat Mystery series.  The combination of Ms. James’s words and Ms. Arsenault’s voice create a delightful Mystery audiobook a la Hallmark. This latest whodunit was gripping and fun. Though I’m starting to fear that Anna is a long lost relative of Mrs. Fletcher and no one should want to be near her (okay, this horribly dates me but I loved Murder She Wrote as a child), Anna’s genuine kindness more than makes up for the murders that seem to occur around her.  In this book, Anna’s veterinarian is unfortunately murdered while cat-sitting the town’s famous feline: Ruby (aka Attitude Cat), the spokes-cat for the Best Pet Store cat food, treats, toys etc. line.  Unfortunately Anna and her friend (and fellow coven sister) Kenisha find Ramona’s body but are unable to find Ruby.  Between Ruby’s owners bitter custody battle, Attitude Cat’s publicist’s strange behavior, and Ramona’s own witch family’s strangeness, it was a guess who was the murderer and why. I enjoyed how the story twisted and turned.  Though I was able to narrow down the why, the exact who was a surprise for me this time.  I liked how Anna was better at following rules and being safe during this investigation.  It was fascinating to watch and learn how difficult it is for Kenisha to be both a witch and a police officer.  She has to toe the line between the unexplainable truth and proof in the court of law.  I felt Anna was better at keeping her feet on both sides of the line and ensuring that Kenisha wasn’t left on the sidelines by the coven.  The relationships of the women are just as strong an element in this series as the clues.  It all contributes to the coziness of this mystery series.  Not to mention the slow burning romance between Anna and a certain young bartender. I feel that no one but Ms. Arsenault could narrate this series.  Her voices and personality truly bring the characters (both human and furry) and this world in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, to life.  I enjoy the audio so much, I prefer to listen to this series, rather than read it. I eagerly look forward to the...
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Oct
18

Review: To Fall Among Vultures by Scott Warren

Review: To Fall Among Vultures by Scott Warren To Fall Among Vultures Author: Scott Warren Reviewer: Nima Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: To Fall Among Vultures is a solid addition to the Union Earth Privateers series.  I found the writing to be equally as good as the first book, Vick’s Vultures, with the same exception that I noted before, that of repetition. (I read from an advance copy and it may be those few spots I took issue with are changed in final editing.)  Calling upon his own training as a pilot, Warren helps us to mentally visualize extensive battle scenes.  They feel authentic, if a little drawn out. The reader is definitely in the middle of the action as the point of view shifts through the perspectives of different participants in the fight. I wanted to see the movie the same way I wanted to see the campaigns in Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game. Like Star Wars’ The Empire Strikes Back, there has to be that middle book which gives us very important information, but maybe doesn’t have the final ending we want.  Truthfully, after reading To Fall Among Vultures there’s such a surprise (I won’t spoil it for you) that I’m not even sure what I want from book three.  It brings up major questions that need major answers, but until I read this book, I didn’t know to ask them.  Readers of speculative science fiction like to speculate and when the author is a step or three ahead of the reader—well, it’s just fun. The strength of Vick’s Vultures was watching humans overcome incredible odds, take advantage of opportunity, and make noble sacrifices—things we like to pat ourselves on the back for as a people.  In To Fall Among Vultures, Warren explores our flaws.  Most significantly, as the story becomes more fantastic, it remains plausible where the flawed Earthlings we know are the heroes and the bad guys.  Warren handles it well and maintains my good opinion.  I’m looking forward to book three. My Rating: A- Enjoyed A Lot About the Book: Humanity has spent decades carefully establishing a quiet foothold in an uncaring galaxy brimming with hostile powers. That all unraveled six months ago when Captain Victoria Marin and her crew of Vultures stumbled into the center of a conflict between two of the galaxy’s three apex civilizations. Eager to get off the intergalactic radar, the Vultures spent the last six months laying low, running routine salvage and recon missions for the...
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Oct
10

Review: Sorrow’s Son by Rene Sears

Review: Sorrow’s Son by Rene Sears Sorrow’s Son Author: Rene Sears Reviewer: Una Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Sorrow’s Son picks up shortly after where Strangehold ended. Though it wasn’t what I was expecting, I did enjoy this next installment of the continuing collision of two different dimensions. When I initially picked up this series, I thought (mistakenly) that Morgan would be the main character POV through the series.  This isn’t the case.  Though I really enjoy Morgan, this older witch and the romantic tension between her and Rowan, I was surprised by how fascinated I was with Javier.  It was fairly easy to figure out who Javier is, but it was not easy to figure out what his mother’s family is.  I hope we learn more about this branch of his family. If you thought you knew where the story was going to go, trust me you don’t.  I was surprised and intrigued by all the different ways the story twisted.  We were introduced to different aspects of Strangehold.  I enjoyed watching Javier relax and trust Morgan and the group.  However, I worry about the ramifications some of Javier’s choices will lead.  He has had enough hardship and I hope this path is one that will lead him to happier places. Through this novel we learned more about Igraine and Iliesa. Seeing their magic use through Javier’s eyes was fascinating and I eagerly anticipant the next novel as it seems to be from their point of view.  So much happened in this novel, connections broken and people twisted – I hold on to hope that divisions can be healed without the blood sacrifice that seems to be implied. If you enjoy urban fantasy with Fae and witches, you might really want to pick up this intriguing Crossroads of Worlds series.  Though it wasn’t what I was expecting, I found it engrossing and intriguing.  The plot moved in unexpected ways with fascinating twists.  I eagerly look forward to finding out what happens next. My Rating:  A- Enjoyed A Lot About the Book: Orphaned during the Savannah Flu, Javier is looking for other spellcasters without knowing if any survived. When he finds a caster named Morgan and her nieces, Igraine and Iliesa, he has to hide the secret of his isolated upbringing, desperate not to alienate the only community he has left. But Igraine and Iliesa have secrets of their own. The wild hunt comes to the mortal world seeking them. Why the Queen of...
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Oct
4

Review: In Her Court by Tamsen Parker

Review: In Her Court by Tamsen Parker In Her Court Author: Tamsen Parker Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A What I’m Talking About: This is my first venture into Camp Firefly Falls, and Tamsen Parker totally brings it in the eighteenth story in the multi-author series. I love all things Tamsen Parker—this is no secret. In In Her Court, there was this undercurrent of pop culture that drew me in and kept me riveted. Well, along with Van and Willa—our main characters. Because, hoo-boy, these girls Got. It. On. I have a couple quotes from this book I’ll be sharing, and neither of them are too spoilery! First up, this gem from Van’s point of view: That was competence porn wrapped up in a pretty package, and nothing made Van happier. Or hornier. We’ve got two brainiac chicks in this story. Willa is a geology grad student looking for PhD and tenure track for her career. At the start of the story, she’s bummed because her summer of research got FUBARed by Mother Nature. Fortunately, her brother isn’t graceful and needs her to fill in for him at Camp Firefly Falls where he’s committed to work for the summer with his best friend, Van. Who Willa has been crushing on, like, forever. Van—short for Evangeline—is the epitome of geek. She’s a Star Wars buff and isn’t afraid to show it. I mean, who besides a fellow geek describes getting hot-n-bothered like this? …Willa was clearly enjoying herself. Maybe more than Van, and that was saying something given the pleasantly warm tingle that had set up shop in Van’s chest with satellite locations all along her nervous system. And, while I really, really loved all the 80s references and nostalgia it conjured for me, I have to admit what hooked me on Van as an awesome STEM character was how she would swear on Holtzmann. Get it? Holtzmann from Ghostbusters? Wait, you’re not laughing? It’s only me? **shakes head** Nah. It’s not just me. We got pretty deep into the feels and insecurities both Van and Willa had, too. What I loved the most about these sections is that the feelings were authentic—something we’ve all felt at one time or another. Not sure about relationship status? Check. Will it last or is it a fling? Check. Summer camp relationship? Check (This one time, at band camp…). So, what would have happened if everyone was a grown up and having the time of their lives at summer camp? Bingo. While...
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Sep
26

Review: Chasing Christmas Eve by Jill Shalvis

Review: Chasing Christmas Eve by Jill Shalvis Chasing Christmas Eve Author: Jill Shalvis Reviewer: Jen Rating: A- Colbie Albright is the best-selling author of a hit book series, with a blockbuster movie releasing on Christmas Day. Family and work always come first for Colbie, and she’s hit a wall causing a severe case of writer’s block. Escaping to San Francisco, she finds herself in the arms of a sexy stranger. Spencer Baldwin is a wealthy, intelligent, good-looking entrepreneur who owns the hottest building in a trendy part of San Fransisco. He hides who he really is, trusting only a select few close friends. But when he accidentally knocks a beautiful stranger into a fountain, he is drawn to her in an inexplicable way. With only three weeks to explore this attraction, Spencer finds himself pulled out of his demanding world for the first time in his life. Chasing Christmas Eve is another wonderful, feel good romance in Ms. Shalvis’s Heartbreaker Bay series. Spence and Colbie are two peas-in-a-pod and fit perfectly together. Both are a bit quirky, introverted, and hiding from their larger-than-life personas. I love that they start on even ground, even though they don’t know it. Their mutual attraction is genuine and the friendship that grows so quickly is based on the “real” parts inside each – not the famous or wealthy parts. Their characters feel so true and relatable, even though they have these pieces of themselves that are so extraordinary, and this is what makes the story so enjoyable. While their relationship blossoms easily, both lead complicated lives, and I appreciate that part isn’t glossed over. Both struggle to balance the demands of work and family (for Colbie) with having a personal life, yet because they want to make it work, they find ways to be together. The only negative I found in the story is how easily things fell into place for Colbie once she returned home, but it wasn’t so obnoxious that I took issue with it. I enjoyed seeing all the regulars from the series, and loved the big secret revealed about one in particular. This group of friends is special, and I grow to love them a bit more with each book. Ms. Shalvis has created a wonderful, enjoyable world filled with some of my favorite characters, and I continue to look forward to reading more. My Rating:  A- Enjoyed A Lot About the Book: Meet cute… Run for the hills—temporarily. That’s Colbie Albright’s plan when she flees...
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Sep
25

Review: Rank & File by L.A. Witt

Review: Rank & File by L.A. Witt Rank & File Author: L.A. Witt Reviewer: B. Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Although he’s never sure what kind of challenges each day will bring on NAS Adams, Senior Chief Will Curtis has always loved his career in the Navy. And, despite the toll it’s taken on his personal life, he can’t imagine doing anything else. Even so, a one-time only, forbidden hookup with a sexy younger officer might be exactly what he needs to get over his lying, cheating ex. It would have been perfect, if once had been enough. Having been surrounded by his family’s military heritage his entire life, Lieutenant Brent Jameson always assumed he’d spend the rest of his days continuing the tradition. Following any other path was, literally, unthinkable. But, choosing between a future he doesn’t believe in and the “unduly familiar” relationship that makes him happy won’t be easy—and it’s bound to hurt either way. While I’ve generally liked the other stories I’ve read in the Anchor Point series, Rank & File is my favorite yet. PTSD and alcoholism are extremely important issues, and I think the author has always dealt with them well. But, Will and Brent’s struggle to find happiness was more external and possibility-oriented, and I became increasingly invested in the outcome as the narrative progressed. Rank & File is also one of the steamier novels in the series. Brent and Will’s relationship begins with a very naughty hookup in a public place, and it’s indisputably clear that they’re both getting exactly what they want. The frequency with which their encounters continue could have strained the other aspects of the story if it was the only indication of their compatibility, but it’s not. On the contrary, sex between Will and Brent has another welcome purpose: it opens the door to the kind of intimacy they both crave, but would never explore otherwise. Another refreshing thing about Rank & File is that it handily dodges the “anything for love” trope that would likely have diluted the internal conflicts both men deal with throughout the story. The unfairness of the policy that is technically causing Will and Brent problems on the surface is certainly noted, but the narrative wisely doesn’t rely on it as a scapegoat. Each must make a difficult choice based on certain things they can’t change, even if an intersection of those paths in the future isn’t guaranteed. Rank & File is absolutely among my favorite of the...
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Sep
21

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: P.S. from Paris by Marc Levy

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: P.S. from Paris by Marc Levy Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: P.S. From Paris Author: Marc Levy Narrator: Tim Campbell; Translated by Sam Taylor Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Standalone Genre: Contemporary Romance Source: Brilliance Audio Finding fame with his unintentionally written first novel, Paul escapes his life as an architect in San Fransisco, moving to Paris where he spends the next seven years writing in solitude. Worried about their friend and feeling that fate needs a little help, his best friends sign up Paul for an online match-making service. What begins as an awkward misunderstand blossoms into a true and meaningful friendship with Mia. World-renowned actress Mia can’t pretend to be happy with her cheating husband any longer, running to stay with her best friend in Paris. There she struggles with her lingering love and hurt, trying to find meaning for her life, when she strikes up an unlikely friendship with an America author. Soon she and Paul work hard to convince themselves that their bond is nothing more than that between close friends. I absolutely enjoyed listening to the audiobook production of P. S. From Paris. The book opens with two separate stories – the events surrounding Paul and the events surrounding Mia. We learn how lonely Paul is and how he tries to convince himself he’s okay. On the other hand, Mia knows how miserable she is but is frightened to take any risks. They live parallel lives until “fate” (in the form of Lauren and Arthur) push them together. I love how awkward and similar the two are. They seem like a great fit, but they work so hard to convince themselves they are just friends. Yet through this guise, the pair open up and learn to trust and eventually love. What I love most about this story is the movie screen feel of the romance. It truly is a bit over-the-top and larger-than-life. I can see a young Audrey Hepburn playing Mia, so full of hope, not letting circumstances pull her down. She’s charming and silly all at once. Her behaviors mimic those of a pampered movie star, but she’s got a heart of gold. I love that both best friend Daisy and new friend Paul are able to see the internal spark under Mia’s shiny facade. The overall plot is a bit extravagant, but that opens the story up to silly misunderstandings and outrageous mix ups. But these situations aren’t always light, and there is one...
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Sep
20

Review: Archangel’s Viper by Nalini Singh

Review: Archangel’s Viper by Nalini Singh Archangel’s Viper Author: Nalini Singh Reviewer: Jen Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Holly, a series’ fringe character who was brutally terrorized by the archangel Uram back in the beginning of the series, was left for nearly dead and Made into something not quite right. She now serves Raphael’s Tower under the close supervision of Dmitri and the Seven. However, after a kidnapping attempt, the gang discovers there is a bounty on Holly. With Viper back in town, it’s up to him to keep her safe. Figuring out who is after Holly and what she’s becoming are the focus of Archangel’s Viper. The story takes place concurrent in time to the previous book, Archangel’s Heart, while Raphael and Elena are far from Manhattan. Dmitri is left in charge, and with the support of Illium and Viper, they keep the territory safe while their sire is away. This allows room for Holly to explore her otherness and the changes happening under her skin without fear that Raphael will end it prematurely. With so much of the book’s plotlines focused on Holly, Archangel’s Viper isn’t really Viper’s story. This one belongs to her. Nearly broken after her capture by Uram, she’s evolving into something other, and Viper is the one person who can relate. During the story they bond – deepening a friendship born out of respect and understanding. They also explore their sexual chemistry, but this is secondary to Holly’s coming-of-age tale. I enjoyed watching Viper and Holly piece together what has happened to and what is becoming of Holly. However, I was a little bit frustrated with the kidnapping storyline, because it dropped off, taking a backseat to her evolution, shortly after it began. While I still classify Archangel’s Viper a paranormal romance, the romance piece is very slow-burning and not the primary focus of the book. Yet, it doesn’t matter to me because I enjoyed the interactions between Viper and Holly, regardless of how mild or flirty. These are two characters we know little about, so watching them develop before my eyes and learn so much more about both was entertaining. All in all, Archangel’s Viper is another exciting, engrossing story in one of my favorite series. Ms. Singh gets an A+ for her world-building and character development, with each book in the Guild Hunter series adding so much to the overall picture. I look forward to each installment and cannot wait to see what she cooks up...
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Sep
20

Review: Death Shall Come by Simon R. Green

Review: Death Shall Come by Simon R. Green Death Shall Come Author: Simon R. Green Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: A What We’re Talking About: Gikany and Una discovered Death Shall Come by accident.  We thought we were picking up a new series by Simon Green (we love his Nightside and Secret Histories series).  It turned out to be the fourth book in the Ishmael Jones series.  It is awesome! Although you need not read the first three books, Gikany did and Una got through the first two.  You can easily jump into the series with Death Shall Come, but why would you?  This series has all of the wit, horror and sublime banter that we love in Green’s other books. The mysteries are gripping and not always what they appear. In this installment, Penny and Ishmael are summoned by Ishmael’s boss, the Colonel, to his father in-law’s estate to ensure the protection of the Colonel’s wife.  What befalls is a fascinating murder with a suspect that was quite the twist.  When you think you have this one figured out, trust us, you don’t. The overarching plot line of Ishmael’s background is intriguing. Although he is not human, Ishmael has no idea where he came from or who he really is.  It is compelling how he chooses to be human.  His interactions and mannerisms could give him away and yet, they just add to his odd character.  We enjoy how Penny both humanizes him is also Dr. Watson to his Sherlock. This is truly a fun series. Gikany and Una thoroughly enjoyed Death Shall Come.  This relatively new series is a wonderful balance of murder mystery and urban fantasy with a sci-fi twist. We loved Ishmael and Penny’s witty banter as they sleuth out the clues and find the culprit – hopefully before the body count gets too high.  If you enjoyed Green’s previous books or if you are looking for a classic mystery with a modern twist, this is the series for you!  We eagerly await the next mystery! Our Rating:  A, Loved It About the Book: Ishmael Jones is faced with a dead body and a missing mummy in this highly entertaining, genre-blending mystery.  Death shall come on swift wings to whoever desecrates this tomb …  Ishmael Jones and his partner Penny have been summoned to remote Cardavan House, home of the world’s largest private collection of Ancient Egyptian artefacts, for the unveiling of George Cardavan’s latest acquisition: a bone fide Egyptian mummy.  When a...
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