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Nov
10

Review: Perfect Gravity by Vivien Jackson

Review: Perfect Gravity by Vivien Jackson Perfect Gravity Author: Vivien Jackson Reviewer: Una Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Perfect Gravity is the second book in the sci-fi romance series, Tether.  Overall, I liked this installment though it had a bumpy start. This book begins before the last book, Wanted and Wired, ended.  It was a little disorienting at first as I had thought it was picking up where the previous had ended.  We are given a glimpse of Angela and Kellen reuniting since their young love breakup years before.  We learn why Angela felt the need to help protect Mari and what happens to Angela after the conclusion of Wanted and Wired. Kellen is one of Heron Farad’s crew of outsiders that are working to try to make this crazy world better.  He first met Angela when they were young at a boarding-type school for highly gifted children.  It is there they fell in love.  However, though one may be incredibly intelligent progeny – nothing ever makes one intelligent in love.  Though I felt that the blame of the breakup was a bit smudged, something remained.  They still were deeply in love with each other – even after Angela married her high powered husband and became a Senator. After learning of the death of Angela’s husband, I really liked that no matter how much Kellen burned for Angela, he held himself back. Wanting to reacquaint himself with her as so many years had passed.  There was time where they obviously yearned, but also cautiously stepped around each other as they didn’t want to make a false step.  But once they are tied at the hip to protect Angela and save the world – the passion explodes.  Though Angela had suffered and come to regret ending things with Kellen, her love for him had never ceased.  But the differences in their lives pose one large complication to them being able to have a happy life together. This is science fiction that isn’t weighted down by the science, but framed and grounded in it.  I’m not always sure about the basis of the technology, but it makes sense to me.  The volatile nature of politics, shadowy conspiracies and a race to stop the end of civilization are gripping elements in Kellen and Angela’s journey. Though it was a bit of a bumpy flow, especially with a few huge twists (one that gave me a bit of whiplash), I still liked the overall story.  I enjoyed revisiting...
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Nov
9

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Shooting for the Stars by Sarina Bowen

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Shooting for the Stars by Sarina Bowen Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: Shooting for the Stars Author: Sarina Bowen Narrators: Tanya Eby, Aiden Snow Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Gravity #3 Genre: Contemporary Romance Source: Blunder Woman Productions Stella Lazarus has loved her big brother’s best friend ever since she can remember. Stella tried to show Bear how she felt years ago, but he brushed her off. So she has to be satisfied with just being good friends. Bear thinks Stella is the sexiest woman alive, but she’s his best friend’s little sister, which means she’s off limits, and it has taken every ounce of will power to keep her at arms length. But when the pair find themselves alone in an upscale hotel room after a few drinks and good food, neither Stella nor Bear can say no to the years of denied attraction. Stella and Bear share an amazing, fantasy-fulfilling night together, but it all comes to a quick end when Bear freaks out about breaking the bro-code and not being good enough for Stella, coupled with Stella’s brother’s career-ending accident. Shooting for the Stars opens just before the start of the second Gravity book, Falling From the Sky and Hank’s horrific accident. The book then jumps ten months, keeping it on pace with the timing of Falling from the Sky. Although there is a lot of overlap in the timing of books #2 and #3, the story is completely different, with Hank playing a minor roll in this title. Stella and Bear are best friends who are perfect for one another, but something always prevents it from happening. Mostly it’s on Bear – he’s afraid to open up and face his feelings head on. When they are together – whether as friends, potential lovers, or awkward and unsure companions – they capture my attention. Both carry around so much baggage and pain, love and hope; their interactions are emotionally fulfilling. However, much of the first half of the book is spent in lengthy flashbacks, and the dynamic of the budding romance stumbles during these interludes. I appreciate knowing more of their history, but at the same time, the author established their deep connection early (starting some in the second book), so jumping to the past pulled me out of the present. Additionally, during much of the middle of the book, the pair avoids each another. But then, Bear starts making his movie and the couple are forced to spend time...
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Nov
8

Review: Skin Hunger by Eli Lang

Review: Skin Hunger by Eli Lang Skin Hunger Author: Eli Lang Reviewer: B. Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: I liked Ava a lot in the first novel in the series, Escaping Indigo, so I was eager to find out more about her in Skin Hunger. At twenty-eight, Ava’s finally shaped her life into something she truly loves—for the most part. She’s the drummer in a successful band with her best friend and owns a house she’s proud of in a city she enjoys. It would be perfect if only she weren’t in love with said best friend (and completely unavailable bandmate), Tuck. The beginning of Skin Hunger held a great deal of promise overall, and I stopped to reread one or two specific passages on the spot so I could hold on to them as the story progressed. There were several moments that were simple and pretty, and which suggested a stronger foundation for the narrative as a whole. “But it was someone’s life, or it had been, even if it was only junk now. Maybe it had been loved. Maybe it had decorated someone’s windowsill or bookcase. Maybe someone had run their fingers over it every day. Maybe it had reminded someone of something, a memory or a person or something good.” These were, by far, some of my favorite scenes in Skin Hunger, and I’d have liked to have seen more of this kind of awareness from Ava throughout. There were also several secondary characters in Skin Hunger that I enjoyed a great deal, Ava’s grandmother and cousin Zevi, in particular. Though we don’t see nearly enough of him, Zevi is warm, supportive, and strong, and I couldn’t help but be intrigued by him, even with what little we’re shown. Ava’s grandmother is just as memorable, with her guarded resilience, and it was a pleasure to witness her tentative invitation to Ava to be a part of her world. One problem I kept having while reading Skin Hunger, however, was that the single-person narration placed high expectations on Ava’s handling of her own internal conflicts. Rather than following a solid trajectory to its conclusion, they seemed centripetal, circling without a definitive attempt on Ava’s part at any sort of resolution until the very end. That’s not to diminish the importance of what Ava is going through—as Cara says, two peoples’ experiences “can’t be measured against each other. They just can’t.” But, I still couldn’t help but feel that Ava’s POV might have...
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Nov
6

Review: Once upon a Maiden Lane by Elizabeth Hoyt

Review: Once upon a Maiden Lane by Elizabeth Hoyt Once upon a Maiden Lane Author: Elizabeth Hoyt Reviewer: Jen Rating: B What I’m Talking About: After a case of mistaken identity, Lord Henry Blackwell identifies the orphaned Miss Mary Whitsun as Lady Cecilia Albright, the long-lost daughter of an earl, the very woman he is supposed to wed. She is welcomed by her birth mother and twin sister, and even finds friendship with, and an attraction to, her betrothed. However, after two near misses on her life, it appears not everyone is pleased with Henry’s discovery. Once upon a Maiden Lane is a sweet, standalone novella that appears to wrap up the wonderful Maiden Lane series. As a recent newcomer to the series, I only recognized a handful of the characters mentioned in the story; however, longtime fans will probably enjoy this tale even more because of it. The romance of Henry and Mary is genuine and charming, and I love how the pair so quickly become friends, attracted to each another both physically and mentally. They spend time getting to know one another while getting in a few scandalous moments when left unchaperoned. Of course, Ms. Hoyt tosses in a twist or two, keeping readers on their toes. While the events of the story would have been significantly altered if only the Countess Angrove had spoken up sooner (I did have to roll my eyes on this part), the lightness and jovial mood of the tale swept me away and made me smile. Once upon a Maiden Lane is a delightful novella for fans of the Cinderella trope. My Rating:  B, Liked It About the Book: Miss Mary Whitsun is far too intelligent to fall for the rakish charms of a handsome aristocrat. But when the gentleman in question approaches her in a bookshop, mistaking her for his fiancée, Lady Johanna Albright, the flirtatious encounter only raises more questions. Could Mary, a servant raised in a St Giles orphanage, actually be Lady Joanna’s long-lost twin sister? If so, Mary has been betrothed since birth—to the rakishly handsome aristocrat himself. Henry Collins, Viscount Blackwell, is far too intrigued by Mary to let her go so easily. He’s drawn to her sharp mind, indomitable spirit, and the fiery way in which she dismisses him—ladies simply don’t dismiss Lord Blackwell. But as Mary makes her first hesitant steps into society, she can’t help but wonder if she truly has a place in Henry’s world—or in his heart. Release Date: November...
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Nov
6

Review: Holiday Wishes by Jill Shalvis

Review: Holiday Wishes by Jill Shalvis Holiday Wishes Author: Jill Shalvis Reviewer: Jen Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: At first, B&B owner Lotti Harford tries to pretend she doesn’t remember her high school sweetheart Sean O’Riley. Aware of the fact she couldn’t keep up the pretense, the pair strike up an easy truce, leading to a renewal of their childhood friendship. Sean, already realizing he’s looking for a meaningful relationship in his life, regrets the way he left things with Lotti. Lotti, burned by Sean’s actions from youth, is scared to open her heart. Holiday Wishes is a wonderful standalone story centering on Sean O’Riley, brother of Finn, the series’ first book hero. The story’s setting is Finn and Pru’s wedding, which, as a regular of the Heartbreaker Bay series, I love. I so enjoy when a novella takes us back to previous couples so we can see how they are doing. Stuck at a small B&B because of the weather, the gang makes the most of their time, and even puts on a memorable wedding ceremony. The time of the romance and story is compressed, but Ms. Shalvis develops a solid shared history that rings true, and the pair reignites their still smoldering flames. It’s sweet and sexy all rolled into a fun novella. I appreciate the apprehension of Lotti, and like that the author ends with an HFN rather than HEA because of the time factor. It’s a quick, easy read, made more enjoyable because of the connections with Finn, Pru, and the entire Heartbreaker Bay gang. My Rating:  B+ Liked It A Lot About the Book: When Sean O’Riley shows up at the Hartford Bed & Breakfast for his older brother’s bachelor weekend, he’s just hoping to make it through the weekend. What he’s not expecting is to come face to face with the woman he lost his virginity to a decade ago—a woman he’s never really forgotten. The last time Lotti Hartford saw Sean, she told him she loved him while he said nothing. Now, ten years later, she’s just looking for a good time. For once, she wants to be the wild and free one, and Sean – the good time guy – is the perfect candidate. But as the weekend continues, Sean realizes that after a lifetime of being the hook-up king, he’s ready to find happily-ever-after, and he wants it with Lotti. But will she open her heart to him again? As Christmas sweeps through the little...
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Nov
2

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Trouble with Twelfth Grave by Darynda Jones

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Trouble with Twelfth Grave by Darynda Jones Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: Charley Davidson Series Title: The Trouble with Twelfth Grave Author: Darynda Jones Narrator: Lorelei King Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Charley Davidson #12 Genre: Urban Fantasy Source: Macmillan Audio Note: this review contains spoilers from earlier books in the series, to include the surprising ending of the previous book. Opening three days after the explosive conclusion of Eleventh Grave in Moonlight, Charley is searching for her husband-turned-malevolent-god, Rey’azikeen. No longer Reyes after his short jaunt into the god glass hell dimension, Rey’azikeen is loose and Charley has been given one more day to find and stop him before Jehovah sends his army to capture him. The Trouble with Twelfth Grave is a wonderful addition to this crazy, hilarious series. Overall, the story is shorter and far more direct than previous titles (well, as direct as Charley Davidson can be). Each strand of the plot is clear and makes sense, and then Ms. Jones expertly draws them all together to create a larger picture as the book progresses. Charley uses her wit and cunning, along with her team of friends, to solve multiple cases that seem unrelated, but ultimately tie in loose ends or come together by the end of the book. I love how free Charley is in this book – she’s back. The whole “do I trust Reyes or not” issue seems to FINALLY be put to rest as Charley struggles with the very real possibility she may lose the love of her life forever this time. She goes from moment to moment, bringing readers and listeners along for one crazy ride. The convoluted subplots are absent, leaving behind a solid story with a bring big twist at the end. Additionally, the continuity issues I’ve noted in the past are either gone, or irrelevant because the rest of the story runs so smoothly. Finally, while the author does do some info dumping, it’s in the form of children’s books, and scattered throughout the story, rather than at the very end. Lorelei King, my all-time favorite narrator, continues to capture Charley’s unique and crazy personality, easily jumping from one subject to the next without pause. She has mastered Charley’s sarcasm and sincerity, her passion and her fury. I think the only reason I can keep up with Charley’s ADD lifestyle is due to Ms. King’s masterful performance. And it’s not just Charley, but Ms. King provides a large range of unique voices for...
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Oct
31

Review: Save a Truck, Ride a Redneck by Molly Harper

Review: Save a Truck, Ride a Redneck by Molly Harper Save a Truck, Ride a Redneck Author: Molly Harper Reviewer: Jen Rating: B/B- What I’m Talking About: Heading back home to spend the summer before going to law school, Marianne begins to question her life goals and dreams. She’s always feared being stuck in small-town Sackett, Georgia, but now the idea has a little more appeal, as long as she can maintain some distance between herself and her large family. Carl and Marianne were high school sweethearts, but when Marianne thought Carl might propose before Marianne headed off to college, she panicked and left him. After four years, the sparks are still there, but can they move forward instead of looking back? Save a Truck, Ride a Redneck is a short novella that kicks off the new Southern Eclectic series by Molly Harper. While not full of Ms. Harper’s usual snark and wit, the story is sweet and charming. However, I’m a bit curious as to its place in the series. I say this because there is a HUGE spoiler in the beginning of the book: a family tree which shows Marianne and Carl married with kids, as well as the death a major character who is still alive in this story. I really wish the family tree had been left out of the novella, and added once the series had progressed to match what the graphic displays. Other than that little issue, Carl and Marianne share a sweet romance. The novella sets the stage for the upcoming series by developing the basic framework of the world. Save a Truck, Ride a Redneck was entertaining and engrossing enough that it got me interested and invested in the characters, and I want to know more about the McCready family. My Rating: B/B- Liked It, but I had a small issue About the Book: Carl and Marianne were high school sweethearts, loving the way only teenagers can—with no thought to logic or pride, just a bone-headed, optimistic frenzy of unicorns and hormones. That was all they needed. Or so Carl thought. Scared of being stuck in Lake Sackett, Georgia, like so many of her friends—without a real shot at a future or achieving her own dreams—Marianne panicked and bolted to college after stomping Carl’s heart into the high grass. But when she returns to Lake Sackett for the summer with her family after years away, she and Carl are drawn together like moths to a flame. As they rekindle their old...
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Oct
26

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: A Plague of Giants by Kevin Hearne

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: A Plague of Giants by Kevin Hearne Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: A Plague of Giants Author: Kevin Hearne Narrators: Luke Daniels and Xe Sands Audio Speed: 1.25x & 1.5x Series: Seven Kennings #1 Genre: Fantasy Source: Random House Audio A Plague of Giants is the first book in a new fantasy series from one of my favorite authors, Kevin Hearne (Iron Druid Chronicles). Set in a world where certain members of the population are blessed with Kennings – the ability to manipulate one of the four elements, plants, or animals – although no one has discovered the sixth Kenning (animal control) yet. The six nations of the known world coexist in a tenuous peace; however, that all changes the day that the mysterious Bone Giants attack several cities along the coast. Coming from an unknown land, these warriors dressed in bones, speaking an unknown language, cut down all that stand in their path. A Plague of Giants is the first part of an epic tale. Similar to the first book in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, the book shares the journeys and battles of the land and its people, ending not at the conclusion, yet not on a cliffhanger, but rather, at a point of rest in between the parts of the whole. This story is shared in two ways within each chapter, both in present day and in flashbacks that cover the past year or so. First, the story is narrated in present day by Dervan, a scholar and historian, friend of the ruling king, and survivor of the Bone Giant attack. Willing to help his country as asked, he gets wrapped up in potential espionage and political maneuvering. From his point of view, readers are able to experience how the war has impacted the various classes of people. Additionally, he gives the story a personal connection – a way to internalize the massive events unfolding before our eyes. Dervan’s primary job by order of Pelenaut Röllend (king) is to accompany Fintan, the Raelech bard, each day and record the knowledge and the tales Fintan shares with the masses on Survivor Field. A Raelech bard has perfect memory recall and the ability to transform shape into the character who’s story he shares. The pelenaut believes Fintan to be a spy of the Triune Council, and wants the details of his day observed. This leads to the second method of storytelling, which is the bard’s recounting of the events of...
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Oct
24

Review: Drop Dead Gorgeous by Juliet Lyons

Review: Drop Dead Gorgeous by Juliet Lyons Drop Dead Gorgeous Author: Juliet Lyons Reviewer: VampBard Rating: B What I’m Talking About: This is the second title I’ve read by Ms. Lyons, and I do love her voice. There’s something about reading a story set in London and having the history aspect for a vampire whose lived several centuries that makes me a bit giddy—especially when the details are on-point. I really like the premise of this series, and I hope to read more. There were a couple things I read in Drop Dead Gorgeous that might’ve been caught in another round of editing—or it’s something I missed about the world-building in the first title that I just glommed on to. Honestly? It probably wouldn’t be a big deal at all to anyone, like, ever…but I’ve recently done some world building for my own vampire book series and it snagged me and held on tight. Really—it’s insignificant and probably a ‘me’ thing. That’s the only reason this isn’t an A rating from me. Mila is an interesting character. She’s a little less self-reliant than the usual female MCs I prefer. Vincent made MY heart stop a few times, what with the chivalry and all that. But, hey. What should I expect from a dude that’s been around since the French Revolution? Even with the one teeny, tiny snag, I did adore the characters and plot from Drop Dead Gorgeous. As I read through the title, I always wished I had more time to sit and enjoy the title. I may have snapped off the heads of a few people who interrupted me (this is why there are headless people running around…) when there wasn’t blood or impending death. I think I like the change in the series name, too. My Rating: B, Liked It About the Book: SWIPE RIGHT FOR MR. BITE Mila Hart’s first experience with the hot new vampire dating site is a complete disaster. Turns out, her date is wanted for murder! But things turn around when she’s rescued by dashing vampire cop Vincent Ferrer. Dangerous and drop dead gorgeous, he’s just the vampire hottie Mila was hoping for. Haunted by his past, Vincent can’t risk falling in love again, even if Mila charms him more than anyone he’s ever met. But when the killer from Mila’s first date seeks her out, Vincent is the only one who can protect her. Protecting his heart is a different story… Release Date: October 3, 2017 Publisher:...
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Oct
24

Review: Rock Candy by Devon Monk

Review: Rock Candy by Devon Monk Rock Candy Author: Devon Monk Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: B+ What We’re Talking About: Rock Candy is a delightful novella that centers on Jean and her new beau, the baker Hogan.  Gikany and Una enjoyed this spooky seasonal read.  How could you not enjoy a romantic tromp complete with a curse, zombie gnomes, and Death stopping by to visit?!? Ms. Monk has created a unique and fascinating world set in Ordinary, Oregon.  For fans of the series, you won’t want to miss this chance of seeing Ordinary from the youngest Reed sister’s eyes.  Though Jean loves Halloween, there is one aspect that is trying – the October gnome-sitting.  For some reason, there is a curse that brings the gnomes to life every October 1st through October 31st.  It is always the responsibility of a Reed sister to ensure that the trouble the gnomes get into is minimized (if possible) and kept from the humans who are NOT in the know.  However this Halloween, the curse is ramped up due to a zombie infection that is moving through the gnomes.  Not to mention Death shows up partly for work (someone it seems will die) but also to experience the Halloween Harvest festival. This novella was a riot to read.  One of our favorite parts was the “five stages of zombie grief: denial, acceptance, hunger, more hunger, and knock-knock jokes.”  It was priceless!  Though the story moved quickly, we enjoyed how Jean chases down the (ahem) head gnome all while trying to figure out if this six-month dating anniversary with Hogan is a good milestone or an ominous one. Her inexperience with long-term relationships coupled with her own insecurities was heartening. Not only do we learn more about her personality, but also about her ability.  We hope this is not the only story told from her point of view. All in all, Rock Candy is a fabulous Halloween novella from the intriguing world of Ordinary, Oregon.  It’s a must read for fans and would be a fun introduction to those that won’t mind some mild spoilers from the previous three novels.  Gikany and Una eagerly await the next novel in the Ordinary Magic series. Our Rating:  B+ Liked It A Lot About the Book: Just An Ordinary Halloween…  Police officer Jean Reed doesn’t normally mind pulling the graveyard shift in Ordinary Oregon, the sleepy little beach town where gods vacation and monsters reside. But October in Ordinary is anything but...
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