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Oct
4

Review: In Her Court by Tamsen Parker

Review: In Her Court by Tamsen Parker In Her Court Author: Tamsen Parker Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A What I’m Talking About: This is my first venture into Camp Firefly Falls, and Tamsen Parker totally brings it in the eighteenth story in the multi-author series. I love all things Tamsen Parker—this is no secret. In In Her Court, there was this undercurrent of pop culture that drew me in and kept me riveted. Well, along with Van and Willa—our main characters. Because, hoo-boy, these girls Got. It. On. I have a couple quotes from this book I’ll be sharing, and neither of them are too spoilery! First up, this gem from Van’s point of view: That was competence porn wrapped up in a pretty package, and nothing made Van happier. Or hornier. We’ve got two brainiac chicks in this story. Willa is a geology grad student looking for PhD and tenure track for her career. At the start of the story, she’s bummed because her summer of research got FUBARed by Mother Nature. Fortunately, her brother isn’t graceful and needs her to fill in for him at Camp Firefly Falls where he’s committed to work for the summer with his best friend, Van. Who Willa has been crushing on, like, forever. Van—short for Evangeline—is the epitome of geek. She’s a Star Wars buff and isn’t afraid to show it. I mean, who besides a fellow geek describes getting hot-n-bothered like this? …Willa was clearly enjoying herself. Maybe more than Van, and that was saying something given the pleasantly warm tingle that had set up shop in Van’s chest with satellite locations all along her nervous system. And, while I really, really loved all the 80s references and nostalgia it conjured for me, I have to admit what hooked me on Van as an awesome STEM character was how she would swear on Holtzmann. Get it? Holtzmann from Ghostbusters? Wait, you’re not laughing? It’s only me? **shakes head** Nah. It’s not just me. We got pretty deep into the feels and insecurities both Van and Willa had, too. What I loved the most about these sections is that the feelings were authentic—something we’ve all felt at one time or another. Not sure about relationship status? Check. Will it last or is it a fling? Check. Summer camp relationship? Check (This one time, at band camp…). So, what would have happened if everyone was a grown up and having the time of their lives at summer camp? Bingo. While...
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Oct
3

Review: Cover Up by L.A. Witt

Review: Cover Up by L.A. Witt Cover Up Author: L.A. Witt Reviewer: B. Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Nate Chandler gave ten years to the man who ended up breaking his heart when he cheated on Nate—in their own bed. Never one for random hookups in the first place, Nate was left furious and unsteady when the forever he was counting on disappeared in an instant. Moving on would be so much easier if he could erase Caleb—and that matching tattoo—from his life. And isn’t it lucky that the “cover-up wizard” at the local tattoo shop also happens to be just as gorgeous as the art he creates? Working two part-time jobs in addition to keeping up his apprenticeship at Skin Deep, Inc. doesn’t leave Lucas Brandt much time for anything else. Especially not romance, given his history of bad decisions and more recent pattern of disastrous sexual encounters. Even so, he can’t deny the undeniable heat that the recently separated and still hurting RIO stokes in him from their very first meeting. And, really, if being with Nate feels this good without any strings attached, there’s no way Lucas is going to fight it. Having met Nate and Lucas in the previous story, Pounding Skin, it was fairly easy to jump right into Cover Up without any backtracking. Lucas, in particular, piqued my interest before, so I was very excited to see how his story might play out. For most of the narrative, I stayed connected to what was going on with Lucas and Nate, and was either eager for them to sort things out or worried that the overall surface was too smooth by turns. It wasn’t until the relationship was still predominantly rooted in the bedroom when both men’s feelings had clearly evolved further that I began to hope for more. Although I liked each of the main characters, I definitely have a particular fondness for Lucas. Open about his sexuality, his major worries are about paying off his student loans and getting his confidence back after a mistake on a tattoo leaves him rattled. As for his relationship with Nate, he knows exactly what the situation is, but is just happy to feel good when he can, and makes a conscious choice to let himself keep falling. When he finally realizes that things can’t continue as they had been, I couldn’t help hurting for him. As I have an admitted weakness for returning characters that I like, Cover Up had...
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Oct
2

Review: The Hunt by Chloe Neill

Review: The Hunt by Chloe Neill The Hunt Author: Chloe Neill Reviewer: Jen Rating: C What I’m Talking About: Picking up about five weeks after the intense conclusion of the previous book, The Hunt opens with our heroine, the Sensitive Claire, in hiding with Para Moses. Unfortunately, Liam, her boyfriend who was struck by magic in that battle, went into hiding with his grandmother, Eleanor. Even though Claire refuses to ask the resistance leader Malachi about Liam, she is worried for him and misses him. However, their enemy in Containment, Jack Broussard, is dead and the top suspect is Liam. So Claire, Gavin (Liam’s brother), and Malachi head out to find Liam, risking their own safety for the good of the resistance. Devil’s Isle is a solid urban fantasy series set in an alternate world where Paranormal beings have invaded Earth through a breach known as the Veil. The attacking Paras are of a faction that wants to overthrow the existing, peaceful faction in the Beyond. However, most humans see all Para as bad, and fight against any and all magic. The story of The Hunt relies heavily upon the preceding events; therefore, I do not recommend reading it as a standalone story or starting the series with this title. Overall, I still enjoy Claire’s story and the battle to protect New Orleans and the Earth. However, I was disappointed with The Hunt. While I didn’t dislike the overall plot, I found I had difficulty connecting with Claire and pieces of the story. In the previous two books, I was fully engaged, because each character had much to offer. I loved the mystery surrounding Claire’s mother and the budding romance between characters. But this time around, I felt like I was just watching events unfold, rather than participating through Claire. The first third of The Hunt moves slowly, and I felt like we didn’t get into any real story as the trio looks for Liam. There are hints at the eventual storyline, but the interactions with the Paras at the Plantation seemed extraneous, and I felt like that whole journey could have taken a lot less book space. Things pick up after Liam comes back into the fold, but the atmosphere of the group changed dramatically from the previous books. The group is on the run now, Liam is ice-cold, Claire can’t go back to her shop, and some of Claire’s close friends have smaller roles. These changes are all necessary as the storyline develops,...
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Sep
29

Review: Of Flame and Fate by Cecy Robson

Review: Of Flame and Fate by Cecy Robson Of Flame and Fate Author: Cecy Robson Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: B- What We’re Talking About: Of Flame and Fate is the second spin-off novel from the Weird Girls series focusing on Taran (nicknamed the Flame series).  Although the overall plot of this book was intriguing, there was just a little too much angst for our enjoyment. Some angst is normal in this series.  The girls seem to continually need to prove themselves, not just to the supernatural community, but also to themselves.  The continuing power struggles between Taran and Gem just added to the melodrama.  Although they did make up in the last novel, they are still not 100% through their issues.  One could say they begrudgingly worked well together in this book, if struggling, growling, and arguing are normal in every couple’s interactions.  It would be awesome to see them actually honestly communicate with each other.  Gem is good at it, but Taran really needs to open up honestly with Gem. There were other angst-ridden plot lines in this novel.  One of which is the battle over the fate of Johnny Fate.  Although it was a little predictable how things with Johnny would go, we were still surprised by the ending.  We have no idea what is next, but we can’t wait to see Taran get even.  Destiny has always been a fun character and it was difficult to watch her slow demise.  The anguish of Tye was heart wrenching and painful to experience. It also seems that poor Emme continues to have her heart in a blender.  We hope that Emme will eventually not only find someone who will love and support her, but that she will have a book that is told from her point of view.  After having Bren’s point of view in a previous novella, it is strange to see how he is treating Emme now.  We hope Bren figures himself out or that his wolf and his human side reach an agreement and make the right choice. Although overly angst-riddled, we still liked this latest Weird Girls adventure, focusing on Taran.  With the cliffhanger ending, we wonder what will happen next.  Hopefully Taran and Gem will have an honest discussion and Destiny’s predictions for the children come true.  We know for sure, we are waiting for the next Weird Girls story. Our Rating:  B- Liked It, but we had a small issue About the Book: Taran Wird, who commands the power...
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Sep
27

Review: The Last Gentleman Standing by Jane Ashford

Review: The Last Gentleman Standing by Jane Ashford The Last Gentleman Standing Author: Jane Ashford Reviewer: Ang Rating: C What I’m Talking About: My understanding is the The Last Gentleman Standing is a re-release that was originally published some 25 years ago. This helped me understand the book so much better. The characters are fun and witty, but the character development isn’t as strong as I like, especially between Elizabeth and Derek. If they are the main couple of the book, why does the author spend so much time telling us about Belinda and the Duke? I also feel like the ending of the novel came out of nowhere. Yes, there are a few hints, but the villain of the story, along with his helper, are poorly developed and so the sudden climax makes little sense. The hero is valiant and handsome. The heroine is beautiful, strong, and charming. All the pieces are in place for a classic, lovely historical romance, and that is exactly what The Last Gentleman Standing is: a lovely little read and a fun diversion for an afternoon, but not something I’d likely pick up again. If you are looking for a sweet, “clean” historical romance full of all the classic elements, balls, courtship, an unexpected heiress, handsome men, and a secret or two, then this is perfect. The Last Gentleman Standing is a book you can share with your adolescent daughter as something that skips the heaving bosoms and torn bodices so common 25 years ago. It is light with a picture-perfect happy ending. However, if you’re looking for strong, well-developed characters that you want to know more about, then you might want to skip this one. My Rating: C, Finished It – Liked some, didn’t like some About the Book: A fortune hunter’s dream… Miss Elisabeth Elham is an unlikely heiress. She never knew the curmudgeonly uncle who died suddenly and left her a fortune. She’s proud, outspoken and independent―a definite challenge for London’s fortune hunting suitors. As various determined gentlemen vie for her attention at balls, routs, picnics and parties, Elisabeth finds herself embroiled with a charming rake, a mysterious nabob, and an elegant neighbor. This would all be great fun, if only she wasn’t so fascinated by the one man in London who’s not trying to woo her… Originally titled Bluestocking, this story has been unavailable for over 25 years. Release Date: September 5, 2017 Publisher: Sourcebooks Series: Standalone Genre: Historical Romance Format(s): paperback (352 pages), e-book, audiobook Book Source:...
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Sep
26

Review: Chasing Christmas Eve by Jill Shalvis

Review: Chasing Christmas Eve by Jill Shalvis Chasing Christmas Eve Author: Jill Shalvis Reviewer: Jen Rating: A- Colbie Albright is the best-selling author of a hit book series, with a blockbuster movie releasing on Christmas Day. Family and work always come first for Colbie, and she’s hit a wall causing a severe case of writer’s block. Escaping to San Francisco, she finds herself in the arms of a sexy stranger. Spencer Baldwin is a wealthy, intelligent, good-looking entrepreneur who owns the hottest building in a trendy part of San Fransisco. He hides who he really is, trusting only a select few close friends. But when he accidentally knocks a beautiful stranger into a fountain, he is drawn to her in an inexplicable way. With only three weeks to explore this attraction, Spencer finds himself pulled out of his demanding world for the first time in his life. Chasing Christmas Eve is another wonderful, feel good romance in Ms. Shalvis’s Heartbreaker Bay series. Spence and Colbie are two peas-in-a-pod and fit perfectly together. Both are a bit quirky, introverted, and hiding from their larger-than-life personas. I love that they start on even ground, even though they don’t know it. Their mutual attraction is genuine and the friendship that grows so quickly is based on the “real” parts inside each – not the famous or wealthy parts. Their characters feel so true and relatable, even though they have these pieces of themselves that are so extraordinary, and this is what makes the story so enjoyable. While their relationship blossoms easily, both lead complicated lives, and I appreciate that part isn’t glossed over. Both struggle to balance the demands of work and family (for Colbie) with having a personal life, yet because they want to make it work, they find ways to be together. The only negative I found in the story is how easily things fell into place for Colbie once she returned home, but it wasn’t so obnoxious that I took issue with it. I enjoyed seeing all the regulars from the series, and loved the big secret revealed about one in particular. This group of friends is special, and I grow to love them a bit more with each book. Ms. Shalvis has created a wonderful, enjoyable world filled with some of my favorite characters, and I continue to look forward to reading more. My Rating:  A- Enjoyed A Lot About the Book: Meet cute… Run for the hills—temporarily. That’s Colbie Albright’s plan when she flees...
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Sep
25

Review: Rank & File by L.A. Witt

Review: Rank & File by L.A. Witt Rank & File Author: L.A. Witt Reviewer: B. Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Although he’s never sure what kind of challenges each day will bring on NAS Adams, Senior Chief Will Curtis has always loved his career in the Navy. And, despite the toll it’s taken on his personal life, he can’t imagine doing anything else. Even so, a one-time only, forbidden hookup with a sexy younger officer might be exactly what he needs to get over his lying, cheating ex. It would have been perfect, if once had been enough. Having been surrounded by his family’s military heritage his entire life, Lieutenant Brent Jameson always assumed he’d spend the rest of his days continuing the tradition. Following any other path was, literally, unthinkable. But, choosing between a future he doesn’t believe in and the “unduly familiar” relationship that makes him happy won’t be easy—and it’s bound to hurt either way. While I’ve generally liked the other stories I’ve read in the Anchor Point series, Rank & File is my favorite yet. PTSD and alcoholism are extremely important issues, and I think the author has always dealt with them well. But, Will and Brent’s struggle to find happiness was more external and possibility-oriented, and I became increasingly invested in the outcome as the narrative progressed. Rank & File is also one of the steamier novels in the series. Brent and Will’s relationship begins with a very naughty hookup in a public place, and it’s indisputably clear that they’re both getting exactly what they want. The frequency with which their encounters continue could have strained the other aspects of the story if it was the only indication of their compatibility, but it’s not. On the contrary, sex between Will and Brent has another welcome purpose: it opens the door to the kind of intimacy they both crave, but would never explore otherwise. Another refreshing thing about Rank & File is that it handily dodges the “anything for love” trope that would likely have diluted the internal conflicts both men deal with throughout the story. The unfairness of the policy that is technically causing Will and Brent problems on the surface is certainly noted, but the narrative wisely doesn’t rely on it as a scapegoat. Each must make a difficult choice based on certain things they can’t change, even if an intersection of those paths in the future isn’t guaranteed. Rank & File is absolutely among my favorite of the...
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Sep
25

Review: Completely by Ruthie Knox

Review: Completely by Ruthie Knox Completely Author: Ruthie Knox Reviewer: Nima Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Like the rest of Knox’s New York Trilogy, Completely doesn’t fall into a tidy classification.  More than the others, however, it wants to tip over into the dreaded women’s fiction category. I think Knox has earned it this time, and I didn’t like it as much as the two (three) previous books being Truly, Madly, and the related About Last Night. About Last Night is probably my favorite book Knox has written so it pleases me that she’s chosen to return to the Chamberlain family with the New York Trilogy and not with the focus on characters one might expect.  Many authors just run through the siblings of a family in a series whereas Knox gives more emphasis to their love stories through the women in their lives.  In Completely, Knox focuses on Rosemary Chamberlain, Winston Chamberlain’s (Madly) ex-wife.  Winston is the older brother of Neville in About Last Night. Rosemary led a tidy, scheduled, polite existence as Winston’s wife, but that’s all she was doing, existing.  She describes herself as “wallpaper.”  Not to put too fine a point on it, but in Completely she struggles to find herself and stumbles upon love in the process.  Unfortunately, it is not as compelling of a read as Knox’s previous books because it starts with a character who is neither likable nor unlikable.  Through shared tragedy she falls in love with a man who works very hard at being desperately private.  As a result, there’s not much for the reader to relate to in either character. I found it difficult to invest myself.  Like its predecessor Madly, the characters don’t seem to go together, maybe even less so.  With a spread of seven years between them, not as many as between Winston and Allie, Rosemary is the older of the two.  No one would mistake her for a cougar.  Rather, she’s a proper, British, would-be baroness. Kalden Beckett, her love interest, describes himself as “brown.”  It’s meant as a skin color reference having a Tibetan mother and an American father, being born in New York, but spending a lot of time in Nepal as well.  Like Rosemary’s wallpaper label, it seems more designed to make him blend in with his surroundings, which in his case is dirt and trees. Getting to know them both literally takes the entire book. One of my favorite characters is peripheral, like Allie’s father...
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Sep
21

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: P.S. from Paris by Marc Levy

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: P.S. from Paris by Marc Levy Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: P.S. From Paris Author: Marc Levy Narrator: Tim Campbell; Translated by Sam Taylor Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Standalone Genre: Contemporary Romance Source: Brilliance Audio Finding fame with his unintentionally written first novel, Paul escapes his life as an architect in San Fransisco, moving to Paris where he spends the next seven years writing in solitude. Worried about their friend and feeling that fate needs a little help, his best friends sign up Paul for an online match-making service. What begins as an awkward misunderstand blossoms into a true and meaningful friendship with Mia. World-renowned actress Mia can’t pretend to be happy with her cheating husband any longer, running to stay with her best friend in Paris. There she struggles with her lingering love and hurt, trying to find meaning for her life, when she strikes up an unlikely friendship with an America author. Soon she and Paul work hard to convince themselves that their bond is nothing more than that between close friends. I absolutely enjoyed listening to the audiobook production of P. S. From Paris. The book opens with two separate stories – the events surrounding Paul and the events surrounding Mia. We learn how lonely Paul is and how he tries to convince himself he’s okay. On the other hand, Mia knows how miserable she is but is frightened to take any risks. They live parallel lives until “fate” (in the form of Lauren and Arthur) push them together. I love how awkward and similar the two are. They seem like a great fit, but they work so hard to convince themselves they are just friends. Yet through this guise, the pair open up and learn to trust and eventually love. What I love most about this story is the movie screen feel of the romance. It truly is a bit over-the-top and larger-than-life. I can see a young Audrey Hepburn playing Mia, so full of hope, not letting circumstances pull her down. She’s charming and silly all at once. Her behaviors mimic those of a pampered movie star, but she’s got a heart of gold. I love that both best friend Daisy and new friend Paul are able to see the internal spark under Mia’s shiny facade. The overall plot is a bit extravagant, but that opens the story up to silly misunderstandings and outrageous mix ups. But these situations aren’t always light, and there is one...
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Sep
20

Review: Archangel’s Viper by Nalini Singh

Review: Archangel’s Viper by Nalini Singh Archangel’s Viper Author: Nalini Singh Reviewer: Jen Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Holly, a series’ fringe character who was brutally terrorized by the archangel Uram back in the beginning of the series, was left for nearly dead and Made into something not quite right. She now serves Raphael’s Tower under the close supervision of Dmitri and the Seven. However, after a kidnapping attempt, the gang discovers there is a bounty on Holly. With Viper back in town, it’s up to him to keep her safe. Figuring out who is after Holly and what she’s becoming are the focus of Archangel’s Viper. The story takes place concurrent in time to the previous book, Archangel’s Heart, while Raphael and Elena are far from Manhattan. Dmitri is left in charge, and with the support of Illium and Viper, they keep the territory safe while their sire is away. This allows room for Holly to explore her otherness and the changes happening under her skin without fear that Raphael will end it prematurely. With so much of the book’s plotlines focused on Holly, Archangel’s Viper isn’t really Viper’s story. This one belongs to her. Nearly broken after her capture by Uram, she’s evolving into something other, and Viper is the one person who can relate. During the story they bond – deepening a friendship born out of respect and understanding. They also explore their sexual chemistry, but this is secondary to Holly’s coming-of-age tale. I enjoyed watching Viper and Holly piece together what has happened to and what is becoming of Holly. However, I was a little bit frustrated with the kidnapping storyline, because it dropped off, taking a backseat to her evolution, shortly after it began. While I still classify Archangel’s Viper a paranormal romance, the romance piece is very slow-burning and not the primary focus of the book. Yet, it doesn’t matter to me because I enjoyed the interactions between Viper and Holly, regardless of how mild or flirty. These are two characters we know little about, so watching them develop before my eyes and learn so much more about both was entertaining. All in all, Archangel’s Viper is another exciting, engrossing story in one of my favorite series. Ms. Singh gets an A+ for her world-building and character development, with each book in the Guild Hunter series adding so much to the overall picture. I look forward to each installment and cannot wait to see what she cooks up...
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