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Jan
25

Review: F*ck Club: Riley by Shiloh Walker

Review: F*ck Club: Riley by Shiloh Walker F*ck Club: Riley Author: Shiloh Walker Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A What I’m Talking About: Here’s the thing with Shiloh Walker books. They’re tough, gritty, and they rip your heart out. But, dammit. Those characters work for every ounce of happily ever after they get. F*ck Club: Riley is no exception. Riley has been the adult of his three siblings for entirely too long. After his parents’ sudden death, he put his life on hold to take care of his brother and sister. He did a lot of things to make ends meet and to pay off the debt left in their parents’ wake. Some were more… lucrative than others. And also illegal. But he’s always been in love with Bree. Bree—what we learn of her from Riley’s point-of-view—is a victim of circumstance. The girl should’ve dug herself out long before this point, but when someone is being emotionally abused and feels as though they’re worthless, there’s not much to look forward to. And no reason to leave. Until something catastrophic happens. Here’s the deal with this book. They both need to spill their guts. The information each has is sensitive, and both parties feel like it would change the perception of the other person toward them. Admitting one’s weaknesses and shortcomings—and naming their demons—are the most intimate types of conversations to have with someone we love. Those sensitive to domestic violence—verbal, emotional, and physical abuse (although the violence itself isn’t described in detail—but we see the aftermath) may want to skip this one. Ms. Walker ripped my heart out, rubbed salt in the wound, stomped all over the still-beating organ, and re-inserted the bruised muscle before stitching me closed without anesthesia with F*ck Club: Riley. I really want more books in this series—I see two more coming…and can’t wait for Shame’s. My Rating: A, Loved It About the Book: “The first rule of F*ck Club…we don’t talk about it. We just do the job and get paid.” And Riley Steele did his job very well. He’ll be the first to admit that his current life isn’t the one he’d foreseen. It’s not even one he really wants, but after his parents died and he was left to care for two siblings and a mountain of debt, he was willing to do almost anything. Now, after almost ten years of being paid to pleasure, he’s almost numb to it…and to women. That all changes with one phone call. Brianna Sharpe,...
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Jan
25

Review: Bait N’ Witch by Abigail Owen

Review: Bait N’ Witch by Abigail Owen Bait N’ Witch Author: Abigail Owen Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: A- What We’re Talking About: Gikany and Una enjoyed the latest story in the Legendary Consultants series.  Greyson and Rowan’s story was compelling and filled with humor and passion.  Although the novel has a lighthearted feel, neither the passion between Greyson and Rowan, nor the anxiety of the plot as Rowan tries to hide her identity while also trying to protect Greyson’s triplet daughters, is diminished. We were introduced to Rowan in the previous novel.  She was the unfortunate witch forced to do the bidding of Kaios.  Now the Mage High Council has their top enforcer, Greyson, hunting her down.  When Rowan turns to Delilah for help, she decides to have Rowan hide in plain sight.  Which is how Rowan finds herself the new nanny to Greyson’s out of control teenage triplet daughters.  As crazy and clichéd as it sounds, it works.  The mystery of the girls’ powers, the hunts for Rowan, and the attraction between Greyson and Rowan all weave together through the story creating a nicely balanced plot. Rowan needs to hide from the Mage High Council for more than just her role in Kaios’ plot.  She has secrets she must hide, not only about her own abilities, but also her training.  Rowan is innately a good witch, and we really loved how she did her best to be a good nanny.  Her genuine care for the girls was sweet and we enjoyed the honest relationship that developed between them.  We also liked how Greyson and Rowan’s relationship wasn’t forced but slowly built. Although the novel is short, the story is rich and completely satisfying.  We are intrigued by the ending and continue to wonder about what and who Delilah is.  Hopefully she will get her own happily ever after story.  If you enjoy lighthearted but passionate fantasy romance, you might just want to pick up the Legendary Consultants series. Our Rating:  A- Enjoyed A Lot About the Book: In love with the witch hunter father of her charges… Rowan McAuliffe has been hiding most of her life. Secretly trained in her powers by an unusual source, she’d been taught not to trust anyone. Especially other witches. However, after she was forced to perform a hateful act against her will, she now hides from the Mage High Council who seek answers, and possibly her life. Greyson Masters is the Council’s best enforcer–a witch hunter who lays...
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Jan
18

Review: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

Review: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden The Bear and the Nightingale Author: Katherine Arden Reviewer: Nima Rating: A What I’m Talking About: The Brothers Grimm appropriated many of their classic fairytales from tales handed down all over the world.  Stories told to entertain, scare children into good behavior, and make us believe in magic.  Just maybe, with a little help from our fairy godmother, things might turn out alright. My favorite Russian fairytale growing up was the Twelve Dancing Princesses.  (It’s deceptive and a little morbid in retrospect, but there’s no accounting for logic or taste in a seven year old who wanted to stay up all night and dance.)  Maybe it was the extremely long and extremely harsh winters, but Russian fairytales are made up of extremes in color, fantasy, violence, and a pantheon of characters which have so much personality, in and of themselves, that they seem to wander in and out of each other’s stories.  The Bear and The Nightingale is an amalgamation of multiple tales and characters into one, cohesive story. Author Katherine Arden has clearly done a great deal of research to craft an original story which stays true to the Russian roots of each character. I read The Bear and The Nightingale next to the fire over a couple of cold, snowy days. Even if I had read it in the heat of August, I still would have felt the bitter winds and deep snow drifts that fueled the story’s action and motivated its characters.  Arden’s writing is expressive and languid.  That slow pace and focus on multiple characters at once will not appeal to every reader.  My largest criticism was the seemingly random use of multiple Russian words, including nicknaming and renaming of core characters. There is a glossary in the back, but if you stop and flip back and forth to look words up, it breaks the flow of the story. Most of the time I just took them contextually. You can’t have winter without Jack Frost and he is right at that beginning of the book as part of a story within a story.  The Russian version of Jack Frost “Morozko” is sadly no boyish, Chris Pine from Rise of the Guardians, but not as old as Robert Pine either—more like Michael Shanks.  (Sorry, I’ve been binge watching Saving Hope.) He’s written here as a mature character, but appealing.  We get the sense that because he’s timeless, he could appear as any age.  Even though we...
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Jan
17

Review: Distilled by Deelylah Mullin

Review: Distilled by Deelylah Mullin Distilled (A Love Brothers Anthology) Author: Deelylah Mullin Reviewer: Una Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Some of you know that I’m not a huge contemporary romance reader.  However, I found something new that I really enjoyed by fellow TWITA reviewer, Vampbard.  Her novella, Distilled, was something different, and I really enjoyed it. What I loved about this novella is that our main characters are survivors.  They both have suffered different traumatic issues and are on a forever road of recovery.  I liked how these scars were integral parts of them.  These imperfect characters found a perfect fit with each other.  The grittiness of these elements weighted the realism for me.  Roni and Kurtis are three dimensional to me and I loved that aspect. Though only a novella, the story flowed very nicely and had a whole novel feel.  The plight of Kurtis trying to stop the sabotage and be able to watch his dream reach fruition was compelling.  I was biting my nails.  Without giving anything away, I suspected the saboteur, but there were a few details I did not catch until the end. Distilled is a modern everyday love story – one that took imperfect people and bound them in perfect love.  The scars of life only enhanced these characters bringing them right up and off the page.  If you want something different, something beautifully gritty, give this novella a taste. My Rating: A- Enjoyed A Lot About the Book: At Clementine Distillery, bourbon isn’t the only new development. When Roni Diarmuid took a position at Clementine Distillery, she planned on developing the best craft bourbon money could buy. She never factored in having a tall, suave, and devastatingly handsome boss, Kurtis Clements, who would make her panties melt. Fortunately, the company doesn’t have a no fraternization rule. When the universe seems to be against Roni and Kurtis’ romance—and the success of Clementine Distillery—accidents happen, things go awry, and all hell breaks loose. Will Roni and Kurtis—and Clementine—survive the accidents and sabotage, or will they fold? This novella is included in the Celebrate – A Love Brothers Anthology.. Release Date: December 15, 2016 Publisher: Self-published Genre: Contemporary Romance, novella Format(s): E-book Book Source: Author *Note of disclosure: The author, Deelylah Mullin, is Vampbard, reviewer here at TWITA. Purchase Info:...
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Jan
17

Review: Legacy of Lies by Jillian David

Review: Legacy of Lies by Jillian David Legacy of Lies Author: Jillian David Reviewer: Una Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: I have found something new!  When I picked up Legacy of Lies it was with the understanding that it was going to be something different.  A paranormal western – that’s right, never thought to put those two words together.  However, Ms. David makes them fit and I enjoyed it! Legacy of Lies is the first book in the Hell’s Valley series.  From my research to put this review together, it seems it is spin-off from another series that I’m completely unfamiliar with.  That being said, I do not feel I missed out on anything.  The story of Garrison and Sara stands well on its own.  Thought it had the feel of a first novel, some of the mythology is a bit shadowed, but I expect these things will begin to be explained as the series progresses. I liked Sara and Garrison, they fit well for being opposites.  He is an uber-gruff alpha male while Sara is in contrast soft and gentle.  But she is no push over!  I enjoyed how she made Garrison work for it.  Especially those moments where he would stumble over his words to convey those pesky feelings, his male blundering was a bit endearing.  For all of Sara’s softness, she has a spine of steel, working hard and makes the tough decisions to do what is right.  They truly complement each other and deserve their happily-ever-after. The plot flows pretty well thought not entirely smoothly.  It took me a minute to realize that western didn’t mean historical.  This is a modern western…  I’d like to say it is a rural fantasy as opposed to urban.  The mythology was intriguing though we are still much in the dark.  I like that the family may have these psychic gifts but they exact a price for their use.  I look forward to learning more about Garrison’s siblings.  I will say that even though Garrison thwarts the enemy at the end, I still do not understand all the forces at work (though I suspect).  I hope we will learn more in the next novel. I am surprised by how much I enjoyed this novel.  It is not heavy into the paranormal aspects, but it was a nice introduction to the world.  I have a feeling things will thicken from here.  Legacy of Lies was an intriguing new start to the Hell’s Valley series and I...
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Jan
13

Review: The Protector by Donna Grant

Review: The Protector by Donna Grant The Protector Author: Donna Grant Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: The saga to find Orrin (Cullen’s dad) continues in this fast-paced continuation of the Sons of Texas series. Seriously. Find. Him! I want Orrin to get a HEA, too!!! Could it be the mousy doctor??? Enough with projecting my own needs as a reader. I think I liked The Protector better than the first book in the series, The Hero. I liked Cullen and Mia better as a couple because they felt more balanced—they could both take care of themselves. Both Cullen and Mia have demons. What really pushed me forward when reading was the next squishy middle I’d run across. You guys know what I’m talking about. The hard-core military that project the image of calm, cool, collectedness who show vulnerability. The Russian involvement and the way the series arc played out in The Protector, I’m champing at the bit for the third book in the series, The Legend, up for preorder & releasing June 27th. My Rating: A- Enjoyed A Lot About the Book: When Marine Force Recon captain Cullen Loughman learns that his father’s been kidnapped, he will do whatever it takes to find him. In order to achieve his mission, Cullen will need to team up with the best of the best—someone who just happens to be the most stunning woman he’s ever laid eyes on… This isn’t the first rodeo for ex—Air Force pilot Mia Carter. Still, Cullen’s bad-boy good looks and charm are distracting her from duty. . .and it appears that the feeling is mutual. As Mia and Cullen make their descent into a dark, dangerous world, their attraction reaches the boiling point. But is their desire worth the risk when a ruthless enemy is waiting in the wings—or will their Lone Star love conquer all?  Release Date: January 3, 2017 Publisher: St. Martin’s Press Series: Sons of Texas #2 Genre: Military Romantic Suspense Format(s): paperback (305 pages), e-book, audiobook Book Source: Publisher/NetGalley Purchase Info: Amazon Reviews in the Series: The Hero by Donna Grant (Sons of Texas...
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Jan
6

Review + Blog Tour: Long Shadows by Kate Sherwood

Review + Blog Tour: Long Shadows by Kate Sherwood Long Shadows Author: Kate Sherwood Reviewer: B. Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Jericho Crewe spent more than a decade trying to shed his past and the legacy of the father who drove him away. Though he lost a lot in the attempt, his new life in LA has made leaving his best friend and lover behind worth it. Mostly. But, a single phone call is enough to bring him running back, and, despite his efforts to reinvent himself, he quickly learns that home won’t let go so easily. I found Long Shadows interesting in many ways, not the least of which is its main character, Jericho Crewe. He’s at once resilient, uncertain, loyal, stubborn, independent, compassionate, and so on. He’s also dealing with a sizable case of denial when it comes to being back in Mosely, Montana, and Wade Granger, in particular—which I thought were some of his best moments. While he didn’t leave as vivid an impression on me as Wade did, I think Jericho has a lot of potential to develop over the course of the series, and am looking forward to seeing how he handles his new situation. My undeniably favorite thing about Long Shadows is the re-acquaintance of the two main characters. Rather than bogging the narrative down with regret, most of the scenes involving Jericho and Wade are touched with awareness, companionship, and a nostalgic fondness that reaffirms their story isn’t nearly as finished as Jericho would like to think it is. I’ve read a good many tales where the temptation that exists between reunited characters is laid out plainly, but this is one of the few that actually made me believe it. While it’s a somewhat familiar situation in different genres, the author doesn’t use the “desperate times call for legal infractions” sort of economy that’s present in Mosely, Montana as the cause of every bad thing that happens in the story. But, neither is it a blanket excuse for it. Rather, most of the characters walk a wobbly line between convenience and necessity when it comes to the law, and I found that ambiguity perfectly acceptable in Wade and Kayla’s cases, in particular. Another great thing about Long Shadows is that there’s so much more to it than any of the relationships that are involved. It is a suspenseful narrative that involves different government agencies, as well as local law enforcement, secrets and cover-ups, covert alliances, and a solid application of...
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Jan
5

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Side Jobs by Jim Butcher

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Side Jobs by Jim Butcher Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Dresden Files Series Book: Side Jobs Author: Jim Butcher Narrator: James Marsters Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Dresden Files #12.5 Genre: Urban Fantasy / Mystery Source: library loan Side Jobs After the cliffhanger-esque ending of Changes, I wasn’t sure I wanted to sift through a “side story” rather than going straight to the next book to find out what becomes of Harry. However, I am so glad I took the time to listen to this wonderful anthology from the Dresden Files. The book contains a set of mostly previously released short stories and novellas, ranging chronologically from before the first Dresden book up to a brand new story that takes place after the conclusion of Changes. The stories cover a variety of subjects and star a range of characters. All but two of the stories are shared from Dresden’s traditional point-of-view, some more humorous than others. I loved seeing Harry react as Harry would in different settings and shorter, less dark adventures. Additionally, much can be learned about those side characters Harry considers friends and family. While it’s very difficult to pick my favorite of the bunch, the two stories not told from Harry’s POV stand out the most. The first is “Backup,” a novelette told from Thomas’ POV, where he must protect Harry from an ancient evil, without Harry knowing he was doing it. The story shares Thomas’ struggles with his vampire monster, and the reader glimpses how much Thomas actually feels under his tough guy, nonchalant persona. The other highlight in this anthology is the final, all-new novella, “Aftermath.” Told from Karen’s POV, we find out what happened the hours after the shocking conclusion of Changes. No only was the story extremely adventurous and exciting, but the emotional content was powerful as Karen and Harry’s friends deal with Harry’s disappearance. Each story is narrated by the fabulous James Marsters, who gets kudos for maintaining consistent voices for a wide range of characters, taking place over the course of several years. I especially enjoyed his work in the two stories not told from Dresden’s POV. Side Jobs is an amazing treat for fans of the Dresden Files and it SHOULD NOT be overlooked and passed by for the full-length titles. While one could read/listen to it at anytime after Changes (if one wants to avoid spoilers), the timing coming after Changes was ideal. It was a great way to review Dresden’s history and life thus far, because things are going to be much different...
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Jan
3

Review: One Fell Sweep by Ilona Andrews

Review: One Fell Sweep by Ilona Andrews One Fell Sweep Author: Ilona Andrews Reviewers: Jen & Una Rating: A- What We’re Talking About: Opening three days after the conclusion of the previous book and just days before Christmas, an unauthorized Ku alien makes a ruckus in Dina’s neighborhood, bringing word to Dina that her sister is in grave trouble and needs help. And that’s just the start of Dina’s troubles. Soon she finds herself in the middle of a holy war, with her guests the primary target. One Fell Sweep is another exciting tale set in the wholly original world of the Innkeepers. The unique mythology, complex plotlines, and captivating characters draw us further into this world with each subsequent read and listen to these books. And by the conclusion of One Fell Sweep we were ready to jump into the next story immediately – do we really have to wait another year? So much happens in this title, we won’t even begin to try and summarize the various plot and subplots. However, there is tremendous growth and forward movement for the characters by the end of One Fell Sweep. First, Dina is reunited with part of her family: sister Maud and niece Helen. Last Dina knew, her sister was happily married to a ranking officer from one of the Vampire families. However we quickly learn her husband is dead, and the pair returns to Earth with Dina. Having Maud and Helen reenter Dina’s life was one of the best parts about the story. Dina has been alone for too long, and allowing her to let her guard down and connect with those she trusts and understand what her life entails was rewarding. Additionally, Maud provides comic relief as only a sibling can. Maud is also an excellent tool for putting an end to Lord Arland’s silly obsession with Dina, squelching any potential love triangle storylines (amen!). Though Una thinks that there wasn’t much of a triangle (but that could have been her optimism at work). Witnessing Arland’s fall as he gets to know Maud is perfect. She is everything he has been looking for in a woman, and it confuses and excites him. His interactions with Maud and Helen are fabulous. We are also happy to report that Sean is solidly in the picture the entire story this time around. We both appreciate and admire how the authors have grown his character from the first book through the conclusion of One Fell Sweep. Sean had to explore...
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Dec
29

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Magnolia Story by Chip & Joanna Gaines

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Magnolia Story by Chip & Joanna Gaines Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Non-Fiction Book: The Magnolia Story Author: Chip & Joanna Gaines Narrators: Chip & Joanna Gaines Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: n/a Genre: Biography Source: purchased The Magnolia Story I LOVE HGTV’s husband and wife team of Chip and Joanna Gaines. My kids and I watch their show to see not only Joanna’s beautiful designs and Chip’s outrageous antics, but mostly because the couple and their family exude wholesome, uplifting family goodness. Upon discovering their biography, narrated by the couple, I had to listen, and I’m so thankful I did. Chip and Joanna are beautiful people inside and out. They love their family, friends, and community, placing the needs of people before profit. Listening to the couple share their story was entertaining and inspiring. I found myself holding back tears or laughing out loud at times. They share their humble beginnings, how they met and their early married life, Chip’s entrepreneurial spirit, and Joanna’s life lessons. Having the couple narrate their own story is perfect. Already familiar with the couple from TV, I could see the pair in my mind’s eye, complete with hand motions and silly faces, as they read their story. The book comes to life as the authors and subjects of the book speak their own words. It gives the feeling that they are sharing their story with me in an intimate setting over dinner. I strongly recommend this uplifting, impassioned tale to all, regardless if you have watched the show Fixer Upper or not. Chip and Joanna share their inspirational story in their own words. Their message of faith, hope, and family is a blessing during these crazy, uncertain times. My Rating: A- Narration:...
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