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May
15

Review: Chasing Danger by Katie Reus

Review: Chasing Danger by Katie Reus Chasing Danger Author: Katie Reus Reviewer: Gikany & Una Rating: B What We’re Talking About: For fans of the Deadly Ops series, Chasing Danger is an exciting and passionate novella.  Although it had been awhile since Gikany and Una had read the last books, we did remember Hannah, Sophie’s friend from the first book who also makes a cameo in the second. We liked Hannah and Dax’s journey.  Since it was so short, it helped that they had a past together.  The obstacles in their relationship were serious, but we liked how they communicated and overcame them.  Their communication was really good once Sophie moved past the hurt that kept her deaf to Dax’s pleas.  We loved Dax’s integrity.  Having his point of view really helped us to not only understand the difficult position he was in, but it also clearly showed his desire and commitment to Sophie. The ruthless antagonist story arc did stretch our belief and reality a bit, but it was still an enjoyable read in a good military suspense/romance series. For a person to be so intelligent and yet so dense seemed a bit strange, but it did give credibility to his off-kilter sanity. Overall, fans of this series will enjoy this short novella and we encourage them to read it.  We enjoyed this treat and look forward to more in the series. Our Rating:  B, Liked It About the Book: Chief Nursing Officer Hannah Young is accustomed to working under pressure, but even she’s still reeling in the aftermath of a horrific terrorist attack on Miami. And things only get worse after a knife wielding maniac tries to kill her. Desperate for help, Hannah must turn to the one man she never thought she’d see again. After spending an intensely passionate night with Hannah, NSA Agent and former Delta Force operative Dax Costas fell off the face of the earth. He got called away for a two week mission with no way to contact her. Now he can’t get the smart, sexy woman out of his head. She might be angry at him, but when it appears she has a stalker, Dax moves her under his roof and into his protection. Unfortunately, whoever wants Hannah dead will stop at nothing. And if Dax can’t identify the perpetrator in time, it could be too late to discover if there is more between him and Hannah than just heated passion… Release Date: April 21, 2015 Publisher:...
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May
14

Joint Review: Into the Aether by PJ Schnyder

Joint Review: Into the Aether by PJ Schnyder Into the Aether Author: PJ Schnyder Reviewer: Una + Jen Twimom Rating: A and B+ What We’re Talking About: Today Una and Jen are here to talk about a new steampunk anthology from one of our favorite authors, PJ Schnyder. Which was your favorite story in the anthology and why? Una: Tough question since I enjoyed all three stories. I think I would have to pick Keeping Cadence (though it is a close race between it and Swan in Siam) since it was the most complete story, and I loved the happy romantic ending. Plus, I really enjoyed Cadence and was surprised by the twists in the story. Though it was a “love at first sight” story, it was really well done and not over the top. Jen: I agree, my favorite is also Keeping Cadence for many of the same reasons. I found Cadence to be one of those favorite flawed, but super strong heroines that I could read about over and over. I also appreciate that it is a complete package with a strong storyline and sweet ending. What was your favorite steampunk mech in the book? Jen: I LOVED Evie’s mech “pet,” Toby, from Evie’s Gift. While it’s probably the most far-fetched piece of machinery, I loved how it worked with Evie’s unique gift and helped in all sorts of situations (like pinning up her hair or torn dress). Una: I loved the “music box” in Swan in Siam.  The melody and the movements of it was enchanting, not to mention the mechanical quirk of it. This question is for Una: Having never read any of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences books, what were your thoughts about A Swan in Siam? Did it pique your interest to read the series by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris? I loved it, I found it enchanting. The mixture of legends and steampunk was beautiful, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. And yes it has piqued my interest; it left me wanting to read more in that world. And for Jen: Since you are a fan of MoPO, how well do you feel PJ’s story fit into the frame work? Oh, this short story was really well done and fit perfectly into the Ministry world. But learning some unique mythology – something not from the UK – was exceptionally interesting and intriguing. I could totally imagine Books and Braun going to Siam some day and meeting Phailin. Did you have any...
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May
14

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: About Last Night by Ruthie Knox

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: About Last Night by Ruthie Knox Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: About Last Night Author: Ruthie Knox Narrator: Coleen Marlo Audio Speed: 1x Series: stand alone Genre: Contemporary Romance Source: audible  About Last Night is the emotionally rich love story between perennial screw up, American Cath Talarico, and high-bred British banker, Nev Chamberlain. The unlikely pair have an intense and immediate chemistry that they indulge in over and over, but only under a set of strict rules. Cath doesn’t want to fall in love, so she keeps Nev at a distance. Nev isn’t happy under his mother’s rules and expectations for his life, but plays her game. What develops between the pair is magical and perfect, yet messy. Their road to happiness is filled with both beautiful and ugly moments, but it’s the journey of survivors. The story is shared from both Cath and Nev’s POVs. At first I felt that split between the two was unbalanced, and I wanted more from Nev’s POV. However, that apparent discrepancy fell away as I grew into the story – whether there was a better balance later in the book, or not noticeable because the story was so engrossing, I don’t know. While it is obvious right from the start that all of their issues would come to a head eventually, I was pleasantly surprised with how it all came to be. I felt that Nev’s mother did act a bit out of character, but in the end, it didn’t matter because I thoroughly enjoyed the outcome. Their Happily-Ever-After is picture perfect and well-deserved. The narration by Coleen Marlo is pretty good. I found her narrator voice soothing and enjoyed her performance of Cath quite a lot. At times I found that she reminded me of Renee Raudman, most especially her performance of Burn for Me by Ilona Andrews. Ms. Marlo’s British male voices were okay – with Nev’s being the best of the bunch and his brother’s most annoying. Sometimes the narration felt a little slow, but I didn’t like the sound at 1.25x (I listened at 1x speed). Overall an enjoyable audiobook and lovely romance. Story Rating: B+ Narration:...
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May
11

Review: Kiss Across Deserts by Tracy Cooper-Posey

Review: Kiss Across Deserts by Tracy Cooper-Posey Kiss Across Deserts Author: Tracy Cooper-Posey Reviewer: VampBard Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: I have been eagerly awaiting more about Veris, Brody, and Taylor. While Kiss Across Deserts isn’t about them, per se, they do appear in a pretty significant way. What’s great about this book, however, is the way relationships build and characters are revealed. I fell instantly in love with Sydney—she’s a strong, kick-ass woman working in a man’s world—as well as Alex and Rafe. I mean, who WOULDN’T fall for all their alpha male vampireness?!?! I haven’t been reading a lot of paranormal romance lately. I love the genre, but I just…haven’t. I suppose we all go through phases in our reading, and that’s just where I was. However, I was quite excited to read this title, the fourth book in the Kiss Across Time series. I’ve been following Veris, Brody, and Taylor from the beginning. I’m pretty much addicted to their style of menage, and the sex scenes are erotic and emotionally satisfying. There were some usage errors missed in proofreading (the file I received wasn’t marked as an ARC), and there were at least three inconsistencies in the plot that interrupted my reading. That’s what keeps me from giving Kiss Across Deserts an A rating. I loved the characters, and they were well-developed. The plot was engaging. I probably would have overlooked these items if I could superficially read for enjoyment (something I struggle with every day as an English teacher and an editor). However, I’d still recommend this title to everyone and anyone that loves a good paranormal time-travel story. Sydney, our leading lady, has a secret. We all love secrets in our romance, right? Well, this secret is a major one, and it’s a driving force in the way the plot plays out. She’s a kick-ass cop in a patriarchal precinct, and has to work for every smidge of respect she’s gained over the course of her tenure on the force. At the expense of a personal life. We watch as she begins to allow a long-suppressed part of herself to reemerge. Her personal struggles dominate a portion of the story, but don’t overshadow the over-arching plot. Which is nice. As the story opens, Sydney and Alex have been conversing over the phone, via email, and the occasional in-person meeting. Alex is infatuated with Sydney, and he’s willing to wait her out—because he’s got all the time in the world, since...
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May
6

Review: Her Wild Hero by Paige Tyler

Review: Her Wild Hero by Paige Tyler Her Wild Hero Author: Paige Tyler Reviewer: Gikany & Una Rating: B What We’re Talking About: Her Wild Hero has been an anticipated read for Gikany and Una since we were introduced to Declan and Kendra in the first novel in the X-Ops series.  Overall we liked Declan and Kendra’s story though there were a few odd elements. The action was so ramped up that it was almost too much.  The majority of the novel spent with our heroes trapped in the jungle, trying to escape overwhelming odds of hybrids.  Although more information was gleaned for the overarching plot lines in the end, the action was almost too much to take. Declan and Kendra’s romance was wedged in between bouts of intense action. Though it provided much needed breaks from the intense fighting scenes, it was in complete contrast to the violence around them.  These very tender moments helped to bring them together, even as Declan fought against the attraction he thought he had overcome.  Kendra, realizing the horrendous mistake she made in rebuffing Declan’s advances, tries to restart the romance.  Their dance is touching as they open up to one another.  Declan’s past truly haunts his future until Kendra, keeping him a prisoner of sorts.  Watching them open up to each other and come together was beautiful. One of the odd things, not necessarily an issue for us, was that Kendra was a “G.I. Jane” in this adventure. We wondered where Kendra, a desk jockey, got all this military grade training. We can understand her having nerves of steel from working around this group for seven years, but to be able to clean a machine gun in the dark perfectly and to be an expert shot?  Did she secretly serve in the infantry before she got her masters in psychology?  It felt as if there was some backstory missing here.  Even Declan was surprised, and we kept hoping he would ask the question to at least quench our disbelief. It never happened. This one aspect was a bit of a stretch for us but we were able to go with it as it did aid in moving the story along. Overall, we liked Her Wild Hero and enjoyed the story of Declan and Kendra.  Though Kendra’s backstory may have lacked some info, it didn’t detract from our enjoyment of her journey with Declan. Although the action was a bit much, we are intrigued with the discoveries made at...
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May
6

Review: Grave Phantoms by Jenn Bennett

Review: Grave Phantoms by Jenn Bennett Grave Phantoms Author: Jenn Bennett Reviewer: B. Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Astrid Magnusson appears to have it all: money, privilege, independence… . The one thing she doesn’t have is the man she’s loved for years: Bo Yeung. With prejudice against Chinese immigrants a constant and pervasive obstacle, a life with him seems impossible. But, when a yacht that disappeared a year ago suddenly crashes into her family’s pier, and a mysterious relic puts Astrid in the crosshairs of a secret society, everything changes—and Astrid discovers that some things are worth defying all the odds for. Yeung Bo-Sing has been in the employ of Winter Magnusson for a very long time, doing whatever was necessary for family who took him in, and make their bootlegging business a success. It’s a position he takes seriously, regardless of his ardent, if inopportune, desire for Astrid. It doesn’t help that, like her brothers, Astrid attracts trouble of the supernatural and lethal variety. But, if there’s ever been something he’s willing to give it all up for, it’s Astrid, and there’s nothing Bo won’t do to have her by his side. Though Grave Phantoms follows the pattern set by Bitter Spirits and Grim Shadows, the first two novels in the series, with regards to the Magnusson family’s knack for falling into deadly situations, it is the romance unfolding between Bo and Astrid that dominates the entire narrative here. The suspenseful side of the story wasn’t quite as immediate, and therefore didn’t seem as well formed as in the previous novels as a result. Even so, there are plenty of shootouts, knife fights, and mysterious goings on to keep the momentum of the story moving at a nice pace while the main characters work towards their mutual resolution. Historically, this story is both fun and educative, and Ms. Bennett seems to have gone to impressive lengths to research the time period in question. Set during the intersection of prohibition, the rise of flappers and the changing roles of women, and the ongoing discrimination against Chinese immigrants, Grave Phantoms incorporates several issues that haven’t been fully explored in this genre. The societal implications of a romance like Astrid and Bo’s are extensive, and I appreciated their journey a great deal. My favorite part of Grave Phantoms is undoubtedly the dialog and other interactions of the returning characters, especially those of Astrid and Bo. Despite the prejudice he faces on a daily basis, Bo is...
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Apr
23

Review: The Diamond Conspiracy by Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris

Review: The Diamond Conspiracy by Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris The Diamond Conspiracy Author: Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Note: this review mentions events from previous books, therefore may be spoilerish if you haven’t read the earlier titles. Having just barely escaped their adventures in America, Eliza Braun and Wellington Books are heading back home to the British Empire, taking their time to consummate their newly formed romantic relationship. However, back home, Eliza’s foster children, known as the Ministry Seven, uncover a monstrous plot against the Queen, putting themselves and housekeeper Alice in parlous danger. Books and Braun cut their trip short, racing back to meet up with Alice and the children, only to find out that the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences is being hunted down by the Department of Imperial Inconveniences on orders of the Queen. Now its up to Books and Braun to save themselves, their family, and the Empire itself! The Diamond Conspiracy is another exciting adventure from the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences. Building upon the solid foundation laid in the previous three titles, Books and Braun are finally partners in all its meaning – growing into the dynamic duo I knew they could be. Their relationship is well played within the setting of the story, enhancing their working partnership while not creating unnecessary drama. It humanizes both Books and Braun, making them more relatable. That part of the story was absolutely perfect. The unfolding plot against the Queen and country is terribly engrossing and filled with twists and turns that I didn’t see coming. The not-so-mysterious-any-longer Maestro remains as the central bad guy, while his sanity continues to decline in its downward spiral, allowing an additional key figure to take charge. I adore the inclusion of several historical and literary figures as key players in the plot, one of which truly caught me off guard. However, the authors rely on the reader’s existing knowledge of these characters, so if you are unfamiliar, you may miss out on some of the implied understanding. I feel this also lead to a lack of physical descriptions of some of the tech and war machines, making it difficult for me to picture some of the events in my mind. While Books and Braun work to save the Empire, we have the opportunity to finally learn more about Wellington’s upbringing, specifically his father, who has always haunted Books. And with how things were left by the end of the book, it...
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Apr
9

Listen Up! Audiobook Review: No Matter What by Erin Nicholas

Listen Up! Audiobook Review: No Matter What by Erin Nicholas Welcome to our weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: No Matter What Author: Erin Nicholas Narrator: Rebecca Estrella Listening Speed: 1.0x Reviewer: Una No Matter What is the short and sweet story of Jaden and Adam.  Though it was somewhat of a whirlwind romance and a slightly clichéd love story, it was an enjoyable listen. First, let me say that overall, I did like Jaden and Adam’s journey.  I really like them as characters.  Though I enjoyed Jaden’s mental struggle between her attraction to Adam and her strive to be professional, I did find it funny that the temptation of Adam usually won.  Every time she got herself under control and walked away…she just couldn’t resist him.  Adam was more interesting.  I found it odd that he had no problem hiring Jaden and immediately succumbing to his attraction to her by flirting.  Since he was so concerned and overbearing about his daughter and her well being, I was surprised he thought he could just have both; Jaden the lover and Jaden the physical therapist for his daughter. I liked how time passed between the interludes of unprofessional flirting, giving them time to get to know each other and think about the situation.  However, it was a bit of a whirlwind romance.  But for those that enjoy a contemporary that indulges a hopeless romantic fantasy, this is entirely up your alley!  As we approached the end, however, I was surprised by the seemly abrupt twist that pulled them apart as well as how they reunited.  I really loved how the story ended.  Absolutely loved it! I liked Rebecca Estrella’s narration overall.  Though her voice differentiation wasn’t as strong between the male characters and female characters, I was able to follow the story for the most part.  There were only a couple of instances where I had difficulty discerning who was speaking.  Since I was listening via iTunes and I couldn’t figure out how to tell my phone it was not “music” but an audiobook, I was unable to alter the listening speed.  I might have enjoyed it more if it had been pushed up to 1.25x, which seems to be my usual listening pace. Though No Matter What was a fairly simple and somewhat straightforward contemporary romance, I liked the story of Jaden and Adam.  The romance had a strong initial attraction and then allowed time to build up the romance.  I was a little put off...
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Apr
7

Review: The Beholder by Ivan Amberlake

Review: The Beholder by Ivan Amberlake The Beholder Author: Ivan Amberlake Reviewer: Una Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: The first in a new self-titled series, The Beholder is an interesting mix of action and drama set in an alternate world.  I found the mythology fascinating, though a bit confusing, and the plight of the hero gripping, though I felt an emotional disconnect with him. This book really threw me for a loop.  It is not often I can feel so conflicted about how I want to rate a novel.  But The Beholder has me a bit knotted.  Overall, I really did like the novel.  The action and plight of keeping Jason and his friends (Matt and Debbie) safe was gripping.  I enjoyed the fight sequences and the awe of the battles between the Lightsighted and Darksighted.  The hints that Jason should not trust easily, that maybe those trying to help him were actually leading him to his end. It was tension-filled up unto the very end. The mythology was really interesting and very different from anything I have read before.  It is as if there is a secret society hidden from the Unsighted, those that cannot see Energy and are kept ignorant of it.  Sighted are those that can see Energy and are split into two groups: Light and Dark.  Obviously, Darksighted are those that are, for all intents and purposes, evil.  They seem to desire to take over and rule the world, while the Lightsighted want to keep the Sighted hidden from the Unsighted as well as maintain a balance between good and evil.  The Sighted can utilize Energy in ways that would appear to the Unsighted as if they wield magic or have special powers.  Although it seems like easy concepts to understand, it was very complicated at times.  There was quite a bit to learn about and the science was staggering.  These moments made the novel drag a bit, but since Jason was trying to understand a world he had been kept hidden from, it was a great way to convey the mythology while allowing the story soldier on. I’m not sure if it was the world-building that dulled me in some way or the love at first sight element that disconnected me from Jason.  It was during lulls between the action sequences when Jason was learning about the world at the same time falling in love with Emily.  Sadly, I just didn’t feel the emotions that formed between Jason and...
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Apr
3

Review: A Curse Unbroken by Cecy Robson

Review: A Curse Unbroken by Cecy Robson A Curse Unbroken Author: Cecy Robson Reviewer: Gikany & Una Rating: B What We’re Talking About: For fans of the Weird Girls series, fear not. A Curse Unbroken is not the final novel in the series. It is only the last book from Celia’s point of view, “for now”. This novel nicely wraps up Celia’s relationship with Aric and the ramifications from the last battle in the previous book with a nice pretty bow. Since the stories in the Weird Girls series build upon themselves, one should read them from the beginning. If you enjoy dark action and drama lightened by irreverent humor and witty banter between four strangely but powerfully cursed sisters, their hot werewolf boyfriends, and the sex crazed vampire allies, then you seriously need to pick up the first book. Celia and Aric have been through hell and back. They met, fell in love, were pulled apart, betrayed, threatened, and almost murdered. But their love for each other and the mating bond their animal halves know continued. It was a long and difficult fight and though they had more to contend with in this novel, they finally get their happily ever after. This is not a spoiler. I don’t think any fans of the series would have enjoyed it if their HEA never came to fruition. We always knew it would happen and we are happy to say, it did. Though we were not on Team Aric for most of the series, we are by the end of it. Aric and Celia do love each other, fight for each other, and protect each other. Their bond is beautiful and special. It was awesome to be on this journey with them. We had two major expectations for this book. One was the final resolution of Aric and Celia’s relationship, which we already touched on. The second was the resolution of the ramifications of the damage Celia suffered from the battle with Anara. Though we could tell the means of how that would be resolved in this novel, we didn’t know exactly how it would happen. We really enjoyed how the tale twisted and turned until the end. Shah was a truly fun and fascinating character. We loved his quirky humor and enjoyed the light-heartedness he brought to the story. Though overall we liked A Curse Unbroken there was one glaring issue we had that knocked it down to the B rating. The first chapter of the book...
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