Talking About Books Tuesday

TABT…The Ivy House, by Drea Stein

Yes, it’s been FOREVER since I’ve posted a book review, but I’ve decided I’m gonna give it the old New Year’s try.

I have a SERIOUS weak spot for well-written contemporaries.  I got The Ivy House when it was free on Kindle, and it took me forever to get to because my TBR pile is ridiculous (another 2015 ‘thing to do’…I refuse to call them resolutions–LOL).  So here’s the disclaimer that I’ll post with every review…I only post 4 or 5 star/heart/whatever reviews.  Why?  Because more than once I’ve seen glowing reviews on books that were complete and utter wallbangers for me. Different people like different stuff 🙂  Not only that, as an author myself, I tend to be hypercritical, and that’s not fair to other readers OR the author if I’m being fussy.  Sooooo, only 4 and 5 star reviews from me.

Without further ado…

 

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The Ivy House is actually the third book in the series (I didn’t know that when I downloaded it), but I had absolutely NO problem in following the storyline, or even the integration of other characters/couples (who were in previous books). In fact, this has to be one of the smoothest series books I’ve read, when it comes to “getting it” without undue brain pain.

Phoebe (the heroine) is the kind of lead I love to read about. Strong, but not overly stubborn (to merely advance the plot), vulnerable, and not afraid to admit that she thinks the guy driving her absolutely nuts is hot as hell.  Chase (the hero) was interesting to me, because he was almost too perfect, too charming–until he realizes that he’s almost blown it all.  The funny part was, because his build-up was so consistent throughout the book, it was that much more heartwarming when he realized what he would be missing. Both Phoebe and Chase had to make sacrifices to be with the other, but none of them felt contrary to their characters.  The setting was gorgeous and Ivy House a character in its own right.  Add in some hot celebrity gossip/juicy past loves and you’ve got a winning combination that’s hard to put down.  Can’t wait to dive into the first book in the series to see what I missed.

 

TABT — A Study in Silks, Emma Jane Holloway

A Study in Silks (The Baskerville Affair, #1)A Study in Silks by Emma Jane Holloway

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fabulous writing, interesting story, compelling characters. That’s why I’m giving this 4 stars, even though I never really connected with the characters–we were just in too many heads for me to do it. That’s my own fault, for thinking this would be more romance (like Kristin Callahan & Bec McMaster)than straight steampunk. As steampunk, it’s great, as long as you don’t mind bouncing from point of view to point of view.

View all my reviews

TABT–Hard Target by Kay Thomas

Hard Target (Elite Ops, #1)Hard Target by Kay Thomas

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A really nice rom suspense book. I was a bit iffy about the first chapter, but after that really enjoyed it. Both Anna & Leland were solid characters with believable motivations. I spent a good bit of time trying to figure out the plot twist and got SO close, but not quite, which made it even more satisfying. I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

View all my reviews

Good morning!  After a long blogging vaca, trying something a bit different!  This is a feature I participate in semi-regularly on FB, so thought I’d give it a shot over here too!  Basically myself and a bunch of other authors put up a teaser for folks to read.   This week I’m giving you a peek into Behind Blue Eyes. Hope you enjoy meeting Sara!

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Pure malevolence weighted the air as I pulled my SUV into a No Parking zone and slapped a DPD placard on the dashboard. Guess I’d been right…again. Damn it.
Camera in hand, I walked quickly down the filthy alleyway, trying not to breathe too deeply, but failing miserably. The rank aroma of urine, spilled beer and marijuana permeated the air, and it took everything in me not to spew.
I didn’t because I’m a professional, and I’ve seen and lived through worse. Much worse. But now was really not the time to go there.
My pace slowed as I approached the yellow crime scene tape fluttering feebly in the sweltering, almost-midnight breeze. Kliegs starkly illuminated the scene, showcasing graffiti-riddled walls rising above clumps of refuse that looked disturbingly like used condoms and dirty needles. Yeah, great neighborhood. But in my experience, murderers didn’t traditionally stick to the high-end zip codes.
Enough stalling. I took a tainted breath and slid my tinted glasses off slowly, wincing before the scene had even fully unfolded before my defenseless gaze.
Pure sensation arrowed through me with ripping claws, cleaving my brain before settling into a low throb pounding behind my eyes, making me close them in pure reflex. You’d think I’d be used to it by now.
“You okay, Sara?” The concerned voice came from my left and belonged to Officer Juan Alvarez, the uniform who’d been first on scene and happened to be one of my few friends. Sorta.
I gave him a grunt for an answer and prepared myself for what I would see when I opened my eyes again. I whispered a low prayer that it wouldn’t be as bad as my initial impression, and took the plunge.
As crime scenes go, this one was no better or worse than the hundreds of others I’d visited over my career as a photographer. At least not on the surface. Beneath it was a whole ’nother story.

My stomach rolled as my brain tried to process the lust, hatred and terror imprinted on the next dimension. Sights and sensations only I could see and feel. It was my gift, my curse.

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And hey, wanna read other great stuff? Check out the other authors participating this week!

http://www.facebook.com/AuthorAmyCorwin
Anne Marie Becker, Author
Boone Brux
C.J. Ellisson
The Official Calinda B Author Fansite
@ChristineLondonAuthor
Author Gem Sivad
@lindalovelyauthor
Susan Vaughan, Author

TABT…Firelight (Darkest London) by Kristen Callihan

Firelight Coverd

This was a REALLY fun read. Kind of a Beauty and the Beast setup, set in regency London, with a definite supernatural, woo-woo bent.  Miranda was great, and I loved how she grew as a character throughout the story.  Don’t want to spoil anything, but she really shines in the end. Archer was fabulous, the kind of tortured hero with a true heart of gold romance readers love to celebrate.  And together?  Together they were magical, in more ways than one.  Can’t wait to read the next book in the series!

I’d definitely recommend this book for paranormal romance fans looking for a different venue/time period than the norm, it’s worth it!

TABT: One Good Friend Deserves Another

One Good Friend Deserves Another

I’m not usually a huge fan of non-genre fiction, or at least I haven’t been in the past, so this book was a pleasant surprise.  It really hit the right notes with me, probably because of the protagonists’ ages:  late thirties.   I could identify with them and their struggles more than a lot of the angsty women’s fiction that highlights younger women.

This story follows the lives and loves of four women over a three-monthish period.  Each of them must truly face and question the things they thought to be the truth, and make decisions that will impact the rest of their lives.  I know that’s a really wishy-washy description, but I don’t want to give anything away!

I really enjoyed that there was a lot of diversity in this book, both racially and economically.  I particularly enjoyed the snapshot of Indian culture.  It was a wonderful change of pace!

So, if you’re looking for a mature coming-of-age story, I can definitely recommend this one.

Book Review: No One Left to Tell, Karen Rose

I cannot begin to express how much I adored this book.  Rose is one of my auto-buy authors, so it’s no surprise that I’d enjoy this book, but I was blown away by it.  For those of you who have read Ms. Rose’s works before (specifically You Belong to Me ), you’ll recognize some of the characters.   In this story, we watch as Paige Holden and the hero, State’s Attorney Grayson Smith, both come to grips with their ugly pasts.  These two have been damaged by their pasts, but still managed to find a way to make their lives positive.   I won’t recap the plot, but I WILL say that the depth and circuitous routes it took made me dizzy (in a good way).  Paige and Grayson were perfect for each other, and in true romantic suspense fashion, they wouldn’t have reached their happy ending (never mind survived) had they not learned to love and rely on each other.  Romantic suspense at it’s finest!

TABT, The Black Hawk, Joanna Bourne

This is my first book by Joanna Bourne, but it certainly won’t be my last.  In The Black Hawk, she introduced me to a world of espionage spanning Europe in the late 1700s and early 1800s.   The characters, Adrian (Hawker) and Justine (Owl) were gorgeously drawn.  Both flawed, both from REALLY screwed up childhoods (if what they lived through can be called a childhood).  In each other, even as children and spies on often opposite sides, they find that indefinable something that makes them perfectly matched.  Decades later, as adults, they must work together to discover who is targeting Justine, and why.  I loved this book on so many levels.  The characters were unusual, and so real they leapt off the page.  I understand I have three previous books to catch up on, with characters mentioned obliquely in this book and I can’t wait!

TABT…Never Stay Past Midnight by Mira Lyn Kelly

I really enjoyed this one, more than I thought I would, to be honest. Both Elise and Levi were normal folks, with pretty normal problems, which was a really nice change from some of the heroes and heroines I’ve read about recently.

The sex is super-hot, but even more compelling was the emotional component. I *felt* the emotions of these characters, ached for them, laughed with them. Moreso than any book I’ve read recently, so I’ll definitely be looking for more of Kelly’s books.

My only quibble was with the Epilogue, which I felt was kinda cheesy, given the really contemporary tone of the book, and the introduction of characters from seemingly out of nowhere. But those are pretty minor, and didn’t really detract from the overall excellence of the book.

TABT…Holding the Cards, Joey W. Hill

This is my first Joey Hill book, and it certainly won’t be my last.  Hill weaves a magical story of two damaged souls who find redemption together.  The sex (as expected in a story that has three partners) is explicit, but the relationship building between the two main characters, Lauren and Joshua, is what really stands out in this story.  Both are wounded by past lovers, and while each is willing to explore a passionate weekend, neither expects to find more, or to find redemption.  If you enjoy books on the spicier side, then I can’t recommend this one enough.  It explores relationships, boundaries and the concept of self amazingly.  Definitely 5 stars!