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Oct
3

Review: Can’t Hide From Me by Cordelia Kingsbridge

Review: Can’t Hide From Me by Cordelia Kingsbridge Can’t Hide From Me Author: Cordelia Kingsbridge Reviewer: B. Rating: C What I’m Talking About: As a member of a highly-skilled ATF team, Charles Hunter is a clever, adept agent who takes his profession seriously. Having recently broken off an engagement, the last thing he needs is to reconnect with another ex-lover during an emergency extraction from the latter’s current undercover assignment. Still hurting and bitter, Charles isn’t prepared for all the ways his life spins out of control when a stalker complicates the situation, and all the secrets he’s tried to hide come crashing down on him. Ángel Medina has been living a lie for two years. When he was given the chance to go undercover and bring down one of the most notorious cartels on the ATF’s hit list, he had to take it. Letting go of the man he loved to do it wasn’t easy, but he wasn’t willing to live his life as someone’s “dirty little secret,” either. But, when his only contact to the real world goes missing, and an extraction is his only hope of survival, his past and present collide in ways he could never have expected. On initial examination, Can’t Hide from Me, by Cordelia Kingsbridge, had a lot going for it: a diverse cast of characters, strong personalities, a range of sexual identities, suspense, as well as a path to redemption and second chances. Yet, as I got further into the narrative, I found that there were a few issues that I was never able to accept or ignore enough to become truly engaged with the story. One of my biggest issues is that I thought there was too much sex for the story trying to support it. It’s not the actual quantity of sex scenes that bothered me exactly, it’s just that, due to the characters’ circumstances, and the suspenseful intent of the narrative, a majority of these encounters seem more gratuitous than purposeful. Given the nature of Ángel’s most recent undercover operation, as well as the addition of a stalker who’s clearly much closer than should have been possible with an elite ATF team, a lot of the sex in Can’t Hide from Me seems emotionally and mentally reckless, at best. I try to ignore the “heat ratings” of a story, however, so others may not have any qualms about the situation. While I usually love suspense and mystery in the stories I get to review, it just...
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Sep
21

Review: Ninth City Burning by J. Patrick Black

Review: Ninth City Burning by J. Patrick Black Ninth City Burning Author: J. Patrick Black Reviewers: Gikany and Una Rating: C  What We’re Talking About: Ninth City Burning is the debut novel of J. Patrick Black.  This science fiction story was fascinating and easily visualized, if only Gikany and Una enjoyed reading it. Truly, we loved the overall premise – a science fiction story about a post-apocalyptic Earth battling back an alien species in order to avoid extinction.  The discovery of a new resource, Thelemity which most of us would describe as magic, is critical in the battle between these two factions.  It is utterly engrossing.  The novel begins with the assumption that we are winning, when in fact we discover, the hard way, we may be about to lose.  We watch as Earth makes a desperate move in order to survive the approaching alien horde.  Does this sound riveting? It was in a sense. Gikany and Una really enjoyed the overall world and the premise.  We just didn’t like reading it. An on-going preference of ours is that we prefer multiple points-of-view novels written in third person.  (We apologize if this will sound awfully academic).  In third person, it is easy to move from character to character, place to place while allowing the story to flow.  However, this is a novel from seven different character’s perspectives, all written in first person.  The story suffers from a lot of “stop and go.”  Each chapter is title with the character that will be narrating.  Now some consecutive chapters are from the same viewpoint, but not always.  The story doesn’t flow well regardless of how gripping the premise.  It was difficult in the beginning to orient to the world as we were in four different perspectives of the “current” world.  There is no background or prequel summary, we just start in the middle of each of the character’s lives.  It wasn’t until about 25% where several narrators encountered each other that we were able to fully comprehend the “what” and “where” of the story, including chronology.  Though each character was unique and fascinating, we feel that not all of the points of views were necessary. The mythology was completely fascinating and intriguing.  The science involved with Thelemity – an element that we would think similar to magic — is utilized in technically advanced engineering.  There is a pivotal moment near the end that questions the war.  With the politics we encounter, it makes us wonder if it is true...
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Sep
8

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Wickedly Dangerous by Deborah Blake

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Wickedly Dangerous by Deborah Blake Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Wickedly Dangerous Author: Deborah Blake Narrator: Romy Nordlinger Audio Speed: 1.25 – 1.5x Series: Baba Yaga #1 Genre: Paranormal/Urban Fantasy Romance Source: purchased Barbara Yager is one of the Baba Yaga, a human, nature-witch of sorts. She was summoned to Clearwater County by an elderly Russian couple whose granddaughter was kidnapped. Right from the start, Baba realizes that otherworldly forces are at work, and that there is a menacing connection between the proposed hydro-fraking of the land and the missing children. Liam McClellan is the hardworking sheriff whose job is on the line because of the missing children. He knows there is something unusual, something more, going on, but is he ready to accept the truth? Wickedly Dangerous is the first book in an interesting UF romance series centered on the Russian mythology of the Baba Yaga. I enjoyed the premise of the book, taking a modern day spin on the witch who lived in a hut that walked on chicken legs. Baba’s powers are impressive, but she has limits and rules, which makes the entire situation a bit harried when she can’t take the necessary actions to right the wrongs. I don’t know if it was the narrator, writing, or both, but the book seemed to have a fairytale quality when the subject matter warranted a gritty, urban fantasy tone. I couldn’t always put my finger on it, but it didn’t always suit my tastes. I liked the storyline, but the almost whimsical quality turned me off. The language was often flowery and overly descriptive with odd comparisons. “His hands clenched on the folder until the papers inside crunched like dry bones in an abandoned graveyard.” “The drowsy coals flashed into sudden wakefulness, flames shooting upward as if to meet the stars halfway. Baba’s heart roared with matching fury and pain, it’s intensity catching her by surprise. One rare tear fell onto the fire and evaporated like a stillborn dream of happiness.” And then there was the awful part when the author compared a luscious roasted chicken to a Vegas show girl after a day in the sun. Just ew. Unfortunately, between the off descriptions and the constant witch hunt against Baba and Liam, the book began to wear on me, and I just wanted the issues resolved. I understand that witch-hunt mentality and type of behavior would happen in real life, and I don’t disagree with the direction...
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Sep
6

Review: Her Rogue Alpha by Paige Tyler

Review: Her Rogue Alpha by Paige Tyler Her Rogue Alpha Author: Paige Tyler Reviewers: Gikany and Una Rating: DNF / C What We’re Talking About: This is an odd review to write since only Una finished the book, but we do that we were disappointed with Layla and Jayson’s story. Una finished the novel, but found herself feeling let down.  The connection between Layla and Jayson was forged early in the series.  Their story is one we have waited for: a shifter who just joined the X-Ops and her wounded soldier.  However, Jayson is emotionally abusive.  The abuse is substantial enough to make us feel that there should possibly be trigger warnings for this book.  In the end he does apologize for being selfishly brooding in his disability, but it was long overdue.  He was brash and reckless in the beginning, and Layla accepted that all the pain he caused her was okay because he loves her.  Their reunion in a battlefield was odd and seemed untimely.  The plot of Jayson’s mission was convoluted and far-fetched – especially his abilities.  At the end of the novel, there is a revelation about Jayson that Layla reads and then destroys – without the reader being privy to it.  This carrot dangling was infuriating to Una.  Since this part of the story was told from Layla’s perspective, we should have been privy to the message.  It would have been preferable to have her destroy the note without looking. The plot that kept Una reading was regarding a thief.  This plot line is tied to the search for the enemy within the X-Ops.  Una found this storyline fascinating and intriguing.  And knowing it is not the end of seeing the thief, we hope to see her in a future novel. Gikany did not finish this novel.  The emotional abuse that begins between Layla and Jayson was too much.  By the 25% mark, the urge to have Layla punch Jayson and leave him was too great for Gikany.  She felt that there was no way he could redeem himself, and he just didn’t deserve her love.  Gikany could not stand to read anymore. Although we do agree that this novel did not go altogether well, Una was able to finish it.  Both Gikany and Una were disappointed in this long awaited story.  Una will read the next novel in the series but Gikany will not. Una’s Rating:  C, Finished It – Liked some, didn’t like some Gikany’s Rating:  DNF – Did...
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Aug
25

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: For 100 Days by Lara Adrian

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: For 100 Days by Lara Adrian Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: For 100 Days Author: Lara Adrian Narrator: Summer Morton Audio Speed: 2x Series: 100 Days #1 Genre: Contemporary Erotic Romance Source: Tantor Audio Avery is a starving artist living in New York, scraping by as a bartender for a trendy club. She hasn’t sold anything in a year and is being dropped by her gallery. Now with an eviction notice looming, Avery gets a gift when Claire asks her to house sit her uptown condo. It’s at her new, albeit temporary, home that she first runs into the powerful and handsome Dominic “Nick” Baine. When the pair meet again at a gallery showing, sparks fly, and Avery decides to ignore her inner warning signs, jumping into bed with Nick. Now she must balance her feelings and the lies she’s spinning until Nick discovers the truth and dumps her. **WARNING, Mild Spoilers Ahead*** I’m going to be brutally honest here, For 100 Days was not what I thought it would be, nor what I wanted in a book. While the story had promise, it definitely falls into the erotic romance side of contemporary romance, which I wasn’t expecting. There are a number of drawn-out sex scenes, and I got bored with it. Additionally, I took issue with Nick telling Avery she doesn’t need a safe word with him. It was reckless, and considering Avery’s history, frustrating that she didn’t have strong reservations. Had I known all of this before I picked up the book, I probably wouldn’t have read it; but I adore Ms. Adrian’s paranormal work and wanted to give this a try. Another issue I had with the book is that it is highly repetitive. Avery is a self-destructive heroine, making poor decisions based on her lust for Nick. She’s constantly reminding the herself, and the listener, that she doesn’t belong in Nick’s world, that she’s lying to him. It was annoying. I wanted her to get over it and own it, which she does eventually, but by then, I had lost interest. However, my biggest issue is SPOILERS AHEAD… ** ** ** THIS ISN’T AN HEA ROMANCE!! That’s right. I listened to the entire book and then found out at the end that Nick and Avery’s story continues to the next book. Avery weaves her web of lies for the entire book, comes clean in the last chapter, and then lies again. I wasn’t happy at all. On the positive sides, I enjoyed...
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Aug
2

Review: Forever Doon by Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon

Review: Forever Doon by Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon Please help TWITA welcome guest reviewer, Kymbo. An avid reader, Kymbo is also the teenaged daughter of our own Ang. Forever Doon Author: Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon Reviewer: Kymbo Rating: C What I’m Talking About: I’ve read the Doon series from beginning to end. Not being one for fairytales with the whole princess and prince thing, I was surprised at how much I thoroughly enjoyed the first two titles in the series. After the first two though, I started having some fairly major issues with the novels. I felt as though the target age for the series changed to a younger audience, as if series was being dragged on, like the authors lost their focus and were unclear where it was going, and like the classification of the novels changed. Forever Doon, like the three before, was a multiple point of view book. Although there is nothing wrong with that, there is a point when it isn’t needed. Forever Doon was told from four different points of view. It was clear why it was told from three of the four, but the fourth viewpoint seemed excessive, to the say the least, and completely unnecessary. Two of the characters were with each other throughout the entire novel, and having both points of view was just each story being retold, most of the time word for word. The fourth viewpoint did not add any extra insight or necessary details through the whole novel all it did was up the word count, and I firmly believe if it doesn’t add to the story it should be left out. Maturity was another topic I often found myself thinking about as I read this book. The main characters are all said to be high school graduates and well above 14, yet I often felt as though they were acting like they were middle-schoolers. Not only was the language used, such as “skellies,” immature and childish, the way character on character conflict was solved was immature. Many times the characters would simply yell at each other instead of actually figuring out the problem, and then it would magically disappear like it never happened. It was almost as though a few of the characters were developing, but not in a way that fit the story. I expected them to mature as they faced various conflicts and it felt like the opposite was happening. I was hoping that because the series was originally planned for four...
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Jul
26

Review: Ultimate Courage by Piper J. Drake

Review: Ultimate Courage by Piper J. Drake Ultimate Courage Author: Piper J. Drake Reviewers: Gikany and Una Rating: B-/C+ What We’re Talking About: Ultimate Courage is the second novel in the new True Heroes series. Though we enjoy the premise and the nature of this series, this novel struck an off-note with Gikany and Una. You need not have read the first novel in the series, Extreme Honor, to be able to enjoy this one.  So far it seems that these can be read as standalone, but that may change as the series continues.  What we really love about this series is that there are two happily-ever-afters in each novel. Or, should we say, the happily-ever-after involves three characters, our main couple and a dog. In Ultimate Courage you have the journey of Elisa and Alex as well as Sousa’s journey. We really enjoy how Sousa is a main character, not just a plot device.  Each dog has had a personality of their own, along with their own coming-of-age/challenge to overcome on their road to a happy ending. Sousa was a great character.  This German Shepherd dog was an interesting character.  We enjoyed his instincts as well as his development.  Though it was a bit obvious to us what his calling was as a working dog, it was fun to watch as the “silly humans” figured it out.  Another character that we really liked was Boom, Alex’s daughter.  Her spunky personality, coupled with her care and concern for others, was touching.  We really enjoyed the warmth and humor she brought to the novel.  We also enjoyed seeing David and Lyn (the major couple from the first novel) again.  Additionally, the story gives us a bit of an introduction to the next couple. Unfortunately what fell flat with us was a major plot point in this story.  As many followers of our reviews will know, we are very particular when it comes to characters that have suffered abuse.  Especially violent or long-term abuse, the treatment of the abuse and how a character reacts to it can be a pet-peeve with us depending on how an author addresses it. Though Ms. Drake is not as cavalier as some have been, we still felt that Elisa’s abuse was not as fully fleshed-out as it should have been.  For a woman who was in a four-year relationship characterized by extreme emotional abuse with the immediate threat of physical abuse, we felt her emotional and physical involvement with Alex was rushed. ...
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Jun
6

Review: Missed Connections by Tamara Mataya

Review: Missed Connections by Tamara Mataya Missed Connections Author: Tamara Mataya Reviewer: Nima Rating: C+ What I’m Talking About: The premise promised by the title Missed Connections is a fun one.  Two people shared a connection at some point in real life, but failed for any number of reasons to act on it.  Through the imaginary Missed Connections website featured in Mataya’s first installment of her Summer Love series, they can reach out and maybe have a second chance at a love.  Apparently that’s a real thing on Craigslist and several dedicated websites like Blew My Chance and I Saw You.  This is main character Sarah’s guilty pleasure while she searches for a new job after being unceremoniously dismissed from her last one.  (We never did get the reason she was let go.) The possibilities are fun to think about. Unfortunately, most of my enjoyment in the book stopped there. The characters were fairly stereotypical and one dimensional.  Sarah has zero depth. She’s almost likable on the few times we see her care for her father, resent her mother’s inappropriate behavior, and when she exhibits a truly admirable work ethic, but she’s not someone I wanted to be friends with. It feels like even the author was annoyed with her own character’s narcissism as evidenced by the harsh reality check she gets from her best friend.  My thought was, “Finally!” Sarah’s nemesis Phyllis is truly evil—without apparent cause.  They don’t do the same job or interact outside the workplace so there doesn’t seem to be any reason for her malicious behavior except that she is just a malevolent person. That was a bit of a head scratcher.  When it comes time for Phyllis to get her comeuppance, it doesn’t feel harsh enough.  We never liked her, why hold back?  Sarah’s employers are, perhaps, worse than Phyllis because they believe their own crap.  They, more than anyone, needed a reality check. Finally, there was no mystery in Sarah’s on-line mystery man, her missed connection, just impatience for her to get over herself and figure out his identity.  The reader knows who it is almost immediately.  As Sarah and her not-really-a-mystery man converse online, we don’t get much in the way of dialog.  This would have been the place to allow the reader to form an emotional connection with him as well.  Instead, we get brief highlights of the conversations and we have to take the emotional connection for granted that Sarah builds during hours and hours...
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May
31

Review: At Any Cost by Mandy Baxter

Review: At Any Cost by Mandy Baxter At Any Cost Author: Mandy Baxter Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: C- What I’m Talking About: Deputy U.S. Marshal Nick Brady hasn’t even been on the job three months and he’s already being reprimanded. Although he’s doing his job, on the side he’s been working off the grid, capturing the bad guys – taking work from other Deputies. Because of his inability to follow orders, Nick earned a mandatory one month leave of absence. But instead of using that time to reflect on his mistakes, he decides to pursue a most-wanted case, using a lead no one else tried. He’s going after Joel Meecum, ex-pres/member of the Black Death MC. Nick believes Joel’s ex is living under an assumed name in McCall, Idaho. Livy Gallagher has spent the last four years afraid for her life. Moving as necessary, changing her identity as often, she’s found some normalcy teaching ski lessons in McCall. But her life gets turned upside down when a sexy man moves into the rental unit across from hers. Livy needs to decide if she can trust this sexy stranger and allow herself the human companionship she so sorely misses. At Any Cost is filled with intense action and sultry sex scenes. But unfortunately, I never really got into the story or connected with the characters. Nick is an arrogant jerk who thinks because he is good at catching the bad guys, the rules don’t apply to him. Now, I’m all for the self-assured alpha male who does what he pleases. And I love me some vigilante Captain America who goes against authority because he is just and noble. But Nick is none of these. He only cares about winning, with little regard for his fellow Marshals. Granted we find out later his motivation for his obsessive actions, but by then, it has little impact on my feelings toward the character. The biggest problem is he doesn’t seem to learn from his behavior, and the book doesn’t deal with the outfall from his actions. I just never liked Nick enough to enjoy his story or romance. Livy, I mostly enjoyed. However her constant repetitive mantra that it is “better to be alone than dead” wore me down. Attracted to Nick from first sight, Livy felt a connection and trust that was borne out of loneliness, at least it seemed that way to me. Regardless, she decides to finally let her guard down and enjoy a human connection with Nick....
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Apr
5

Review: The Beast by JR Ward

Review: The Beast by JR Ward The Beast Author: JR Ward Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: C+ What I’m Talking About: Hello. My name is Jen. I am a recovering BDB addict… Yes, I was one of the many who felt betrayed by JR Ward when she wrote and released the previous Black Dagger Brotherhood book, The Shadows. I wanted to read The Beast because 1) I love Rhage and Mary, and 2) I wanted to see if I was finally over my obsession with all things BDB. In the end, I’m glad I read The Beast, and I probably would have enjoyed it more had The Shadows never happened. Generally, The Beast is a fun story and it brought back some of the old school fun the series has been lacking for years now. Most of the page time is dedicated to Rhage and Mary, telling the story of how they relate as a couple, and to the outside world, after a few years of mating and living with the BDB. Additionally, there are sidestories that follow the continuing path of Layla, Assail, the Scribe Virgin, and the Lessers. And per her usual, Ward tosses in new characters that don’t even interact with the main characters in any way. Here are my thoughts about each storyline: Assail storyline: Assail has been around for a while, but he’s not really making any forward progress. Back a few books ago, I liked his story, but then it dragged on and on. Now it looks like he may have hit rock bottom, but I don’t seem to care. I found him to be pathetic for most of the story. Ward has set him on a path for redemption, which began in The Beast, but I felt the reason for it, and the sudden 180 turnaround in his personality, was too abrupt for his character. He felt like two completely different people from the beginning to the end of the book, and it didn’t sit well with me. Layla / Xcor / Bastards storyline: Ugh. Layla has turned into an idiot again. I had hope for her character there for a short while in earlier books, but alas, I don’t like her again. She lacks any real personality and personal strength. She’s whiny, even in her own head. Her love for Xcor is ridiculous and childish because it was never really given much time to develop. Then we have the defunct Bastards with Throe up to something, but we...
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