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Dec
26

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: One Was Lost by Natalie D. Richards

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: One Was Lost by Natalie D. Richards Today we have a special #audiobook review. It’s time to… Audiobook Reviews: One Was Lost Author:  Natalie D. Richards Narrator:  Vanessa Johansson Audio Listening Speed: 1.25x Series: Standalone Genre: Mystery/Suspense, Young Adult Source: Tantor Audio One Was Lost is a very gripping thriller-suspense mystery with a hint of romance.  I enjoyed this chilling tale, enhanced by the narration. Sera is a high school senior who signs up for a fun hiking/camping trip.  This is a mandatory requirement for seniors, they must complete a “mission.”  It varies from working at a homeless shelter to this wilderness trip.  Sera is talked into the trip by the school’s organizer, a teacher named Mr. Walker.  Six students and Ms. Brighton (another teacher) make up the group.  However, right at the beginning of the trip, the group is split while trying to cross a river during a storm.  Mr. Walker along with Sera, Lucas, Jude, and Emily are able to cross while Ms. Brighton and two other students are left on the other side.  They decide to camp for the night and reconnoiter in the morning.  However the morning brings a ravaged camp, a seriously ill Mr. Walker, and a strange tattoo on each of the students: Damaged, Deceptive, Dangerous, and Darling. One Was Lost is entirely told from Sera’s perspective.  When she wakes the next morning with her belongings missing or destroyed and the word “Darling” on her arm, Sera thinks it is some strange prank.  She doesn’t realize that it is the first strike in the countdown.  It doesn’t help that Sera does not know the other people in her group well, except for maybe Lucas.  Her brief romantic interlude with him has left her cold.  She fears romance and love ever since her mother fell in love with someone else, leaving her and her father.  Lucas is tattooed with “Dangerous” which furthers Sera’s distrust.  Yet, Sera wants to try to figure out not only how to get out of the wilderness, but also who is seemly hunting them and why. I was thoroughly engrossed in this young adult thriller/mystery suspense.  The little bit of romance sprinkled in added depth and help to keep Sera off-balance.  I enjoyed the twists and turns in the plot.  The story is far more complicated than it seems and though there are plenty of clues, it was not easy for me to figure out until the end.  Though the story is indicative of some other lost in the...
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Dec
21

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Gingerbread Man by Lee Strauss

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Gingerbread Man by Lee Strauss Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Reviews: Nursery Rhyme Suspense series Gingerbread Man Author:  Lee Strauss Narrators:  Reba Buhr & Roger Wayne Audio Listening Speed: 1.5x Series: Nursery Rhyme Suspense #1 Genre: Mystery with sci-fi elements, New Adult Source: Tantor Audio On a whim, I picked up Gingerbread Man, the first book in the Nursery Rhyme Suspense series.  I was intrigued by the premise and was not disappointed! The story is a mix of a detective drama/mystery and a bit of science fiction to it.  It reminds me a bit of the movie Frequency or maybe The Lakehouse.  That being said, it was reminiscent but truly a unique tale.  Without giving anything away, Marlow is tested as he works to discover what is going on and who the killer is.  Teaming up with Sage, the roommate of his online crush, they race the clock as they try to stop a serial killer. It’s difficult to discuss the novel without giving anything away.  However, I really enjoyed the dual narrators.  With the way the plot twisted and turned, it really helped to have two narrators to convey which point of view is being expressed (as it switches), as well as helping to anchor the plot.  It was especially helpful as I got a little confused at first (along with Marlow) when his online date showed up after being murdered.  The dual narrators added a depth to the story and enhanced my enjoyment as the plot wove itself around. I was fascinated by this thrilling novel.  I enjoyed the mix of science fiction elements blended with this young adult suspense. Though, technically only one murder is solved, I wonder what happens next. It is also interesting to see what will happen, if anything between Marlow and Sage. I eagerly look forward to listening to the next novel in this series. My Ratings: Story: B+ Narration: A Overall: A- About the Book: When that cute chick you met online is murdered – but shows up for your next internet meeting anyway. Marlow’s just a regular geeky college freshman with little to no experience with girls, so when he has a semi-flirtatious chat with a cute girl online, it’s almost more than his nerves can handle. Then the girl is brutally murdered. Or is she? Marlow finds himself teamed up with intelligent and savvy Sage Farrell, a girl so far out of his league he feels blinded in her presence...
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Dec
19

Review: Outside the Lines by Anna Zabo

Review: Outside the Lines by Anna Zabo Outside The Lines Author: Anna Zabo Reviewer: B. Rating: A What I’m Talking About: Finding romance—or even the occasional hookup—in a little town like Bluewater Bay has been far more complicated than miniature set designer Ian Meyers would have liked. Meeting a gay man not involved with Wolf’s Landing isn’t all that easy, plus there’s always a chance that they’ll try to use him to be closer to the show. Going home with someone from work is just begging for a lot of awkward afterwards, and is a bad idea all around. Giving up on the whole thing seems like his only option, at least until a collision between his finished model and a stuntman leads him to the local hobby shop—and Simon Derry. Sweet, geeky, and completely adorable, Simon is exactly the kind of guy Ian’s been looking for. As if the ideal mix between shy and flirty wasn’t enough to make Ian want him, Simon is also a highly skilled miniature painter himself, and is willing to work by Ian’s side to get his set repaired on time. Add to that Simon’s obvious (and welcome) interest, and the situation would be absolutely perfect—if it weren’t for Simon’s wife. Having enjoyed another title I’ve read by this author, I was very excited to see what they might bring to the Bluewater Bay universe. After reading Outside the Lines, I can say that it’s easily one of my favorites of the entire series. Somehow capturing the ZING! of Simon and Ian’s new relationship energy and combining it with the comfort, support, and irrefutable trust that anchors Simon’s marriage to Lydia, Anna Zabo has crafted a truly beautiful love story. Without a doubt, there is a lot going on in this story. Outside the Lines examines the distinction between polyamory and open relationships, bisexuality and acceptance, romantic versus sexual attraction, a couple of different kinds of kink, and more. That said, not once did I get the impression that the author was ticking boxes on a list, nor did the tone ever shift to preachy. On the contrary, while fundamental to the makeup of the main characters, those things seemed almost tertiary to the larger, and more basic, feeling of warmth and wanting between people in love. Though we only see the events of the narrative from Simon and Ian’s POVs, I was most taken with Simon’s wife, Lydia. She is rock solid all the way through, only needing support...
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Dec
15

Review: Spartan Heart by Jennifer Estep

Review: Spartan Heart by Jennifer Estep Spartan Heart Author: Jennifer Estep Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: A What We’re Talking About: Gikany and Una loved the Mythos Academy series.  When it concluded, we kept our fingers crossed that Ms. Estep would return to the world.  Our wish came true!  The Mythos Academy spinoff series features Gwen’s (the hero from the original series) cousin, Rory Forseti. This is an intriguing world where mythological creatures, warriors, and gods still exist (and mess with the mortal realm).  Rory, our heroine, is a Spartan.  These warriors are gifted with the ability to pick up anything and know how to kill something with it.  Yes, anything: a sword, a knife, a pencil, a fork, a paperclip, a loose-leaf notebook, etc.  At the end of the Mythos Academy series, Loki was captured and imprisoned by Gwen.  However, Loki’s followers, the Reapers, are not disbanded.  It seems with Loki out of the way, they have found a new leader who has decided to take over the world instead.  Well, unless a new band of heroes stops them. Rory’s character is similar to Gwen in that she is an outsider, smart, strong willed, and determined.  Gwen was an outsider due to her psychometric magic and gypsy background.  Rory, however, is the daughter of two high-ranking Reaper assassins.  Sadly, Rory never knew about her parents’ secret identity, until after they were murdered.  Now, Rory is shunned due to her Reaper parents.  Most people figure she will follow in their footsteps, even though she fought just as hard as Gwen to help stop Loki.   Rory now lives with her Aunt Rachel in Colorado, returning to her original academy and trying to find a small, square patch of normal in her completely upset life. We enjoyed watching Rory try to figure out who the Reaper student is.  It was interesting to watch her befriend the group of young Midgards and find her place among them.  It was touching to see the commonalities between Rory and Ian.  We look forward to watching the romance blossom between them and we have our eye on Aunt Rachel and Takeda.  Of course most of the bad guys got away and we look forward to the next battle in the upcoming untitled book 2. You do not have to have read the previous series, but it does give a stronger background in the mythology and the world.  If you enjoy mythology and young adult adventures with a touch of romance,...
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Dec
12

Review: How To Blow It With A Billionaire by Alexis Hall

Review: How To Blow It With A Billionaire by Alexis Hall How To Blow It With A Billionaire Author: Alexis Hall Reviewer: B. Rating: A What I’m Talking About: Opening with a prologue tinted with such sinister and brutal (and potentially prophetic) avarice that my nerves were on edge for the entirety of the narrative, How to Blow It with a Billionaire was as wonderful and absolutely crushing as I’d hoped—and feared—it would be. In a fairly seamless a transition, it picks up where How to Bang a Billionaire left off, continuing Arden and Caspian’s story with all the potential their new, and hard-won understanding might bring. Told entirely from Arden’s POV, How to Blow It with a Billionaire felt remarkably well-balanced and generous with regards to the other characters in Arden’s world. Arden is very easy to love, and I was instantly caught up in every hurt or happiness he experienced. Unguarded and generally hopeful, he views everything with an artist’s eye, always referencing various movies, music, novels, etc., to provide context for the situations he finds himself in. His awkward, often hilarious internal commentary provides most of the story’s humor, as well its heart. As was the case in How to Bang a Billionaire, I found the cast of secondary characters to be yet another highlight of the story. Ellery—Caspian’s younger sister and an absolute favorite of mine—is back, and her presence was both welcome and far better than I expected. Bellerose has returned, as well, and is even more charming and prickly than before. Arden’s expanding post-Oxford life also includes several notable additions, specifically the staff at Milieu—George the photographer, most especially. Never tidy nor easy, How to Blow It with a Billionaire is substantially darker than its predecessor, Arden’s increasing intimacy with Caspian exposing many of the latter’s secrets which were only hinted at before. Caspian is not at all what he appears to be, and Arden’s determination to make him at least accept the validity of Arden’s feelings and desires indicates a resilience that neither of them seemed to expect. As their relationship involves a particular kink, there is a significant emphasis on the difference between taking something unwillingly sacrificed and accepting something willingly given, and the inherent complications that must surely arise, allowing that a snapshot of either circumstance without proper perspective might look much the same. If you haven’t read How to Bang a Billionaire yet, I strongly suggest doing so before starting How to Blow It with a Billionaire. If you’ve already...
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Dec
6

Review: Forever Yours by Addison Fox

Review: Forever Yours by Addison Fox Forever Yours Author: Addison Fox Reviewer: Nima Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Forever Yours is the third installment in the Brooklyn Brotherhood series. The brief novella takes advantage of a lengthy history between Jasmine “Jaz” Shane and Cade Rossi. We were introduced to these characters in the last book Just Once. Jasmine is Detective Daphne Rossi’s life long best friend and Cade is Daphne’s older brother, also a member of the NYPD.  Jaz has been in love with Cade since she was nine years old.  Cade knows everything there is to know about Jaz, but has only recently begun to realize she may be the right woman for him. These two have not flirted in the traditional sense as the book description suggests.  Rather they have been sparing like near-siblings in their own form of foreplay. A catalyst incident moves them out of their bickering and into relationship territory, for which they are the only ones who seem surprised.  Because it takes history for granted, it really should be read in order rather than taken as a standalone. Also, because that history is assumed, we can jump from the friend zone into a forever relationship in just 100 or pages. I hope Fox takes on subjects in future books that are brought up in Forever Yours, but not really addressed.  Some of those subjects include racism and sexual assault.  They are too significant to ignore in the lives of her characters given the Brooklyn, New York backdrop.  Book four, Only You, comes out this month. My Rating:  A- Enjoyed A Lot About the Book: Detective Cade Rossi has spent the majority of his life oblivious to Jasmine Shane. She’s always been his little sister’s best friend, but after coming to her rescue one night, Cade is starting to see the woman behind the lawyerly suits. Since childhood, Jasmine has harbored an embarrassing crush on Cade. She’s seen him work his way through nearly every eligible bachelorette in Park Heights, Brooklyn, and Jasmine’s given up hope of them ever having a chance together. But summer is the perfect time for a fling, and as Cade and Jasmine grow closer, what starts out as an innocent flirtation could turn into so much more… Release Date: June 13, 2017 Publisher: Swerve Series: The Brooklyn Brotherhood #3 Genre: Contemporary Romance, novella Format(s): e-book Book Source: Publisher Purchase Info: Amazon Reviews in the Series: At Last by Addison Fox (Brooklyn Brotherhood #1) Just...
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Dec
4

Review: Rogue Affair Anthology

Review: Rogue Affair Anthology Rogue Affair Authors: Tamsen Parker, Ainsley Booth, Olivia Made, Kris Ripper, Amy Jo Cousins, Emma Barry, Adriana Anders, Kelly Maher, Stacey Agdern, Jane Lee Blair. Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A What I’m Talking About: I read three titles in this collection, and I’m really sad I didn’t have time to read more. Go pick this up, you guys. Dedication of a Lifetime by Tamsen Parker: This story totally hit me in the feels. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had THIS convo with Mr. VampBard. And the REALNESS of the relationship between Sean and Isaiah—oh, my. Get thee to a fainting couch, pronto. I loved the interplay between these two guys. School counselor Sean wants to fix the world, or at least he’s willing to bear the weight on his slim shoulders. No social justice slouch himself, Sean’s medical researcher husband Isaiah is exhausted by one assault to decency after another. Their world is crumbling, their marriage is in trouble, and Isaiah suggests they run away from it all but Sean balks. Will they honor the vows they made to one another or will their relationship be another casualty of the world gone mad?  Personal Proposal by Ainsley Booth: Astrid and Brianne. **content sigh** Brianne has balls of steel and is hiding out. Both of these women seem to have strong personalities and what I liked the most about their story was how there seemed to be an instant attraction yet they were so unsure. It was really endearing. I liked seeing Brianne through Astrid’s artist’s eye. New boss. Secret crush. Big problems.  Brianne can’t afford a crush on her new boss. Thanks to a storm of media attention, she’s fled her old life and desperately needs to please the aloof and demanding Astrid Dane. So she ignores the zing of chemistry every time they touch, and the ache inside each night as she tumbles into a cold, lonely bed. But as their work gets harder, and their days longer, boundaries crumble and Astrid finally puts her cards on the table with an unexpected proposal.  Such Great Heights by Adriana Anders: Shut. Up. I’m not crying. This poignant story highlighting an issue that definitely requires more attention felt so real. I felt like I was hiking up a handicapped path. Sleeping (etc.) in a tent. And the torment of someone haunted by his past. Small town reporter O’Neal Jones is a sucker for a good story. Which...
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Dec
4

Review: Roomies by Christina Lauren

Review: Roomies by Christina Lauren Roomies Author: Christina Lauren Reviewer: Jen Rating: A What I’m Talking About: Holland, born in a cab and the youngest of six kids, lives in Manhattan on the support of her doting uncles, who are more like fathers. She has a masters degree in fine arts – an aspiring writing, who isn’t writing. She’s got little direction in her life, but when an accident puts her in contact with the subway busker she’s been crushing on for six months, Holland’s life turns upside down. With a little bit of the 1995 Sandra Bullock movie, While You Were Sleeping, and a little bit of the 1991 film, Green Card, Roomies is a delightful romance about self-discovery and making dreams come true. When Holland finds a way to help her Uncle Robert with his broadway musical by marrying classical guitarist Calvin so he can stay in country, she decides to go for it. It’s a turning point for Holland who realizes she wants to marry Calvin because she never takes risks, and at twenty-five years old, is bored with life. She recognizes that maybe the reason she can’t write is because she’s not really living. Through Holland’s eyes we get to know Calvin, who is charming, sexy, sweet, and kind. He’s humble and gracious, and readers can tell that it’s not just Holland’s rose-colored, lustful glasses that filter how we see Calvin. There are stumbles, and yet, he continues to shine. Holland always puts the needs of others before her own. It’s through the getting-to-know each other process (for the green card application), that Holland recognizes some things about herself; that she’s a supporting character in her own life. And this is what eventually drives Holland to become more than a supporting character. Additionally, Holland doesn’t feel worthy of Calvin’s affection, and as they get to know one another, we experience the range of Holland’s feelings, most of all her uncertainty. The wondering if Calvin’s flirtatious actions are true or for show… my heart was pounding along side of Holland’s. Her flaws make her real and on some level, all of her insecurities are familiar: that piece of Holland that is always trying to help others. Who is unsure of where to go with life. Who doubts she can find true meaning and love in her life. Honestly, my only complaint is I wanted more. Although we get to see a lot of the pair as a couple and falling in...
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Nov
30

Review: Terminal Alliance by Jim C. Hines

Review: Terminal Alliance by Jim C. Hines Terminal Alliance Author: Jim C. Hines Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: A What We’re Talking About: Terminal Alliance is a new hilariously witty science-fiction novel by Jim C. Hines.  We loved it! Mr. Hines has blended his characteristic humor, world building, and character development in a science fiction world.  The human race is actually endangered.  Humans destroyed themselves, but are being slowly saved from a devastating virus by an alien race, the Krakau.  The virus takes a thinking, reasoning, rational human being and turns them feral.  Humans have become id driven animals, reacting by instinct and fueled only by baser needs.  However, once rehabilitated by the Krakau into calm beings, humans are physically stronger than they once were and are almost invincible.  Most rehabilitated humans work in military professions for the Krakau. This novel focuses on Mops, the head janitor on the EMC spaceship Pufferfish.  During an operation to save another vessel from a Krakau enemy, the entire human crew, except Mops and her small team, revert to a feral state.  In the panic that ensues, all alien crewmembers, except Grom, are killed.  Command falls to Mops as the most senior member of the crew.  She must find a way to help her feral compatriots and uncover the cause of this mysterious virus. Yes, there is some bathroom humor, but it is tasteful and hilarious.  However, it is the perceptions of the aliens, the interactions between them and humans, as well as the “lost” cultural references that Mops and crew throw around that make this novel wonderful.  We loved how intricate the different alien races were, especially their cultures.  For example, Grom is an alien that is neither male nor female.  So the pronouns used in reference to all members of this species are always “they”.  However, there is another alien race that can change its gender, thus, when referring to them, you must change the gender of the pronoun every other sentence.  It isn’t as confusing as you think, but cleverly funny! The characters that create the core of Mops’ team are varied and wonderful.  Their names, their interactions, and the way their life is structured, are all fascinating, funny, and cleverly woven into the mythology.  One of our favorite characters is Puffy, the onboard ship’s computer assistant.  Puffy is the go to guy when you need to know how to steer the ship, use the tractor beam, or simple things like making a call.  It seems to...
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Nov
21

Review: Enchanted by the Highlander by Lecia Cornwall

Review: Enchanted by the Highlander by Lecia Cornwall Enchanted by the Highlander Author: Lecia Cornwall Reviewer: Una Rating: A I absolutely love Ms. Cornwall’s Highland Fairy Tale series.  This latest installment, Enchanted by the Highlander, is another delightfully romantic and compelling tale. In this story, we have a retelling of Cinderella.  But like the other stories in this series, it is a fresh retelling with twists and turns that make it wholly its own fairytale.  Gillian (Gilly) has always gone along with what her sisters and father have wanted, so much so, most of the time they even speak for her.  Gilly may be shy, but she is not unintelligent.  She is actually quite observant, intelligent, and possesses the MacLeod stubborn determination. But she prefers not to make waves, so she bobs along by the directions of her family.  However, in trying to do the right thing, the family decides to marry her off to a far older man.  Sir Douglas would provide a quiet, safe, and low-key home for Gilly while she could be more of an assistant to his writings.  Unfortunately, Gilly had already lost her heart to someone she knows her family would reject. We previously met our hero, English John, in the first novel in this series, Beauty and the Highland Beast.  He was Dair’s captain of the guard and protected Fia and her sister Meggie when the village were about to burn them at the stake (if you haven’t read it yet, do so – it’s great story).  John meets Gilly about a year before she is engaged to Sir Douglas.  She had been returning from Edinburgh after unsuccessfully finding a suitor.  Upon one glance between them, the line was cast and caught.  The problem, besides that John is an Englishman, is that he is disowned by his father.  John’s tale is full of grief and heartache.  He has no plans of marriage as he feels he could not condemn a woman to life bound with a disowned, poor man. The fates of these two are sealed when Gilly, stepping out of her comfort zone, dresses up in a different costume than the one her sister Fia had picked out.  John, stunned by the beautiful and intelligent woman, shares a kiss – the kiss that changes everything.  John does not know the identity of the masked woman, but after that kiss, he desires no other. Fast forward ten months, and we find Gilly preparing for her wedding. However, things do not go...
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