Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Open Library-borrow books for free.

Did you know that there's a free lending library online? OpenLibrary allows access to plenty of books with a free account. You may borrow up to 5 books at a time. It's kind of a random little library. You won't find a ton of the newest bestsellers, and some very popular authors are under represented (there are some but it isn't the backbone of this collection). But what you may find are little hidden treasures of books that may be out of print and may never see release as an ebook. These are scanned copies, often of older books, so even if epub is available, you will want to request the pdf version. Adobe Digital Editions is required for downloading most books, but there is often a read in browser version too.

For the visually impaired, they also offer protected Daisy files. I am unsure how those work, but they are available.

It's a free and legal alternative to pirating for the voracious reader on a budget, especially if that reader either doesn't want to deal with their public library or their library doesn't have a connection to OverDrive.

Murphy's Child

Murphy's Child
by Judith Duncan

This book kept popping up in the comments of blogs about "realism" in fiction. I was able to find it on OpenLibrary. Do yourself a favor though, if you do the Read Online thing, just don't try it on a phone.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Cynthia Eden Phoenix Fire Series

With the second installment coming out I re-read the first book. These two stories (and likely the as yet unpublished 3rd) run fairly concurrently, as such, minor spoilers for each of the books may be revealed in each of the reviews.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Fighting Fair

Fighting Fair
by Anne Calhoun

Natalie Copeland is tired of fighting for a marriage that in her eyes doesn't even exist anymore. Her husband basically ignores her and takes her for granted in favor of his business goals. She makes a last ditch effort to save her marriage with couple's counseling, which her husband can't even be bothered to show up on time to. Shane doesn't really see the problem, as far as he is concerned Natalie knew what she was going into and the time it would take to meet his goals.

Frankly speaking, I did not care for this story. It is all about Shane's wants and needs. When he meets a goal at work he looks around the celebratory party and realizes he has no clue where his wife is. When he tracks her down he finds her having a business dinner with another man and sparks fly. I'll admit it is really well written, I empathized with Natalie and it was all too easy to get into her head at the start of the book. But it doesn't get better after the start of the fight scene. Shane's method of "winning" her back feels like it is STILL all about him and his wants and needs and nothing really about her. Some of my issue with this is likely due to the shorter format, there simply was not enough time for me to make the transition between anger and hurt to passion, which means there was a really spicy scene that normally I would have enjoyed but instead left me cold.

Since it was well written I will probably try another longer book to see how it pans out, but this probably isn't a good intro as a new reader to Anne Calhoun's works.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Sin Brother's Series

Sin Brother's Series
by Rebecca Zanetti

"Romantic Suspense with a slight paranormal twist about a band of brothers who carry unnatural powers genetically engineered into them by a black ops military unit."

I received an ARC of the third book of this series, Blind Faith, from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. However, I found it difficult to drop into it without the background knowledge of the rest of the series. So here are my reviews of the series so far.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

A Kiss of Red

A Kiss of Red
by Garrett Zephyr

A copy of this book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

First of all, this story was way more interesting and clearly written than the blurb might suggest. Secondly, and probably the first thing people consider with indie books, is the spelling and grammar, which I am pleased to say was very good. The one notable issue is that the writing is extremely proper and grammatically correct, to the point of an almost complete lack of contractions even in the dialogue, however considering the state of many indie books on this matter-I consider it a breath of fresh air. Just fair warning, it took me a couple of chapters to slide into the story because of it.

The story revolves around the mysterious happenings in Brook Falls, Oregon and around one family consisting of the grandmother Ellen, and three cousins who were raised by her-Marie, Tanya and Lily (who we don't see until the end).

When Ellen mysteriously winds up in a coma, Marie (the main protagonist) returns to the home town she had left behind. She's caught between James Powell and Eugene Spencer, two men who are dangerous but only one of whom means to protect her. 

This is a paranormal romantic suspense so we have both world building and the mystery, and the author does an excellent job of avoiding info dumping on both counts. There are several plot twists that keep the reader guessing til the very end and there's a nice set up for Tanya's story.

All in all, a rather solid first book from a new author.

The Professional

The Professional
by Kresley Cole

I received an ARC of this book from the Publisher, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

This was originally published as a three part serial.

Another reviewer labeled this as "glitterkink" and that seemed oddly apt to me. To that I'll add - BDSM plotporn meets superromance. It's over the top in many areas from the hero, to the heroine, to their backgrounds and the events of the story itself. He's a mafia enforcer with a tragic past and she's the unknown daughter of a mafia boss. It isn't safe or sane and should probably not be any one's idea of a healthy relationship. The other thing the story is over the top on (this time not in a cheesy way) is emotional impact, though I found myself empathizing more with Sevastyan than with Natalie. Putting all that together created a luscious romp as long as you use a bit of willful suspension of disbelief.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Otherwise Engaged

Otherwise Engaged
by Amanda Quick

The first thing to know about this book is that despite how many lists have it as part of the Lantern Street series, this is a standalone with absolutely no paranormal element. And it was nice to go back a more traditional historical story.

Amity Doncaster is a globe trotting adventuress who is writing a lady's travel book and has learned a variety of useful skills. During her time on one island she finds a man shot in an alley. He asks her a favor of getting a letter to his Uncle in London. While she does take the letter, she also takes Mr. Benedict Stanbridge and manages to save his life.

He levered himself partway up on one elbow. Pain tightened the corners of his eyes. "Do not tell anyone else about the letter-not any of the passengers or any members of the crew. It is vitally important that you not trust anyone who is on board now or who may come aboard between here and New York. Is that clear?"

"Quite clear." She gripped the doorknob. "I must say, you are certainly a man of mystery, Mr. Stanbridge."

He sank wearily back onto the pillow. "Not at all Miss Doncaster. I'm an engineer."

Unfortunately for Amity, saving Benedict doesn't come without some risk, namely a lot of gossip of an illicit nature, which brings her to the attention of a serial killer, the Bridegroom. Fortunately, Amity is intrepid and skilled so the bridegroom seriously underestimates her and manages to escape.

I love how Krentz's books are so intricate and this one is no exception. There are several well crafted sub plots and a cast of secondary characters that are portrayed realistically and have their own relationships and lives separate from the hero and heroine. I also love how researched Krentz's novels tend to be, she usually slips in some interesting tidbit or historical fact. In this case what seems to be an anachronistic bit of whimsy is actually a historic fact. Photovoltaic cells and solar power were around for the 1800's. Granted, Krentz has written so many books at this point and her writing style is so very distinctive that it is hard to stop comparing her current books to previous ones, but in my opinion this one holds up on its own merits and was a fun historical romp with hilarious characters.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Inn at Last Chance

Inn at Last Chance
by Hope Ramsey

This is the 7th full length book in the last chance series.

I received an ARC of this book from the Publisher, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Six Pack Ranch Series

Six Pack Ranch (6 books)

by Vivian Arend

“The Coleman family has ranched in the Rocky Mountain House area of Alberta for generations. These modern day contemporary cowboy romance stories follow the extended family as they find both their place in the community and a happy-ever-after.”

These are published through Samhain so you can expect a bit more kink than your average contemporary provides. But overall the heroes are pretty sweet so it also isn't what I would consider a traditional Samhain either.

I will be reviewing the entire series here so there may be mild spoilers for the previous books if you read all the reviews.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Collector

The Collector by Nora Roberts

Lila Emerson is a people watcher, a “Peeping Tammy”. She's a writer of tween novels to pay the bills and a house sitter for the adventure. One night she sees a woman pushed out the window of her apartment and this sets forth a chain reaction with an extraordinary number of coincidences and intersections to the main characters’ lives. The event brings her to Ashton Archer, a painter of some renown with a large extended modern day family. This is one of Nora’s typical 3 part novels with more than one couple involved. I won’t tell you about the other couple because that would ruin the surprise and the serendipity, but they are just as interesting as the main hero and heroine. Although there isn't really as much page time as I think there could have been.

There is of course mystery involved, but it doesn't stay much of a mystery to the reader for long. Mostly the reader is along for the ride as they figure out things we already know and develop their relationships with each other.

Overall I enjoyed this book, but I think it missed the mark and could have been a much better mystery/suspense story if the reader wasn't let so much into the mind and actions of one of the villains.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Justiss Alliance Series

Justiss Alliance series by Tina Wainscott

“When five Navy SEALs take the fall for a covert mission gone wrong, the brotherhood of bad-asses join The Justiss Alliance, a private agency that exacts justice outside the law.”

I received ARCs of these books from the Publisher, via Netgalley, in exchange for honest reviews.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Sweetest Surrender

Sweetest Surrender (The Serafina: Sin City #3)
by Katie Reus

This is the 3rd book in the The Serafina: Sin City which is a spin off from the Red Stone Security series.

Angel is a fairly interesting character with quite a story behind her. She is a sweetie and really only has one twit like moment. Vadim though, he is freaking adorable. He's slightly shy and awkward but still really hot. There was enough mystery and plot twists to keep this fun to read, and the ending is just too cute.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Kit Rocha-Beyond Series

Kit Rocha's Beyond series is a post apocalyptic dystopian series where after the apocalypse the world is split into sectors where each one is pretty different. Think the Hunger Games without the explicit child abuse but with a hard pornographic edge. The entire series is EXTREMELY adult content and features sexual relationships in a variety of configurations, voyeurism, and BDSM. There is no real info dumping so you glean information about the world and culture around the characters as you go through the stories. Personally I tend to prefer that approach, but if you are the sort of person who needs more background at the start, then this is probably not the series for you.

I sat down and devoured the entire series in a couple of days so I am just going to post all the reviews on this one post.

Seth (Cyborgs: More Than Machines #5)

Seth (Cyborgs: More Than Machines #5)
by Eve Langlais

This is the fifth book in Eve Langlais Cyborgs series, which chronicles the adventures and the relationships of cyborgs who became self aware and revolted from the humans.

Seth is a cybernetic spy model, as is his wife. This means they not only seem more human, but they also have retained more of their human memories.The book wasn't quite what I was expecting. The tone differed dramatically from every other book in this series. I also didn't enjoy the infidelity angle, though I appreciate that Langlais didn't leave one of them faithful as it made it slightly more palatable. Overall it was enjoyable, but I expected more from Seth's story.

Wild Wolf

Wild Wolf (Shifters Unbound #6)
by Jennifer Ashley

"Twenty years ago, shape shifters of all kinds banded together and announced themselves to the world, only to be shunted to areas no human wanted ("Shiftertowns"). They are forced to wear Collars that control their hunting and fighting instincts (referred to by Shifters as "Taking the Collar")."

Graham is an alpha wolf shifter and Misty is a human florist. Much like the rest of this series there is a strong sexual element to this book, and that part of their relationship is quite compatible. The rest of their relationship didn't quite work as well for me until the very end, but it wasn't bad.

This series has some pretty nice world building and it is completely in keeping with the human race that if people came out as so wildly different, governments would set up concentration camps for them. Up until this point however, the books have mostly been character and relationship driven. This appears to be the point where the story is becoming more story arc and world event driven. It wasn't badly done, and this seems to be a common theme in longer running series, but that isn't always my favorite part of the story.

The Arrangement

The Arrangement (The Survivors' Club #2)
by Mary Balogh

This is the third of the seven stories of six men and one woman, all severely wounded in one way or another during the Napoleonic Wars before ending up convalescing together at the home of the Duke of Stanbrook.

It took a me a little bit to write this review because while I knew I liked it very much, I had trouble parsing precisely why I did.

The blind viscount Vincent Hunt has run away from home to escape his family's matchmaking attempts only to land himself within the reach of a grasping family's matrimonial schemes. So when Sophia Fry (the mouse) rescues him and thus loses her home, he decides to marry her.

I think what I liked about this book was that they were both so needy and so concerned about whether or not they could make a good spouse for the other. And there is something terribly touching about two sweet and dependent people working so very hard to shore the other up and make them less dependent. Most books you read are about how at least one of the main characters just can't survive, thrive, or live without the other that it is nice to see ones who know very well they can, but chose love and stay together.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Escape

The Escape (The Survivors' Club #3)
by Mary Balogh

I received an ARC of this book from the Publisher, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

This is the third of the seven stories of six men and one woman, all severely wounded in one way or another during the Napoleonic Wars before ending up convalescing together at the home of the Duke of Stanbrook.

The Escape is a story about journey's, a journey to a place, but also a journey through loss and grief and acceptance to joy. A journey where at the end a person can say of themselves "I am as I am."

This is also a story with a great deal of introspection, a story where the hero and heroine work slowly through their issues. So this isn't a fast paced or even an exciting book, it isn't a book that just invites you to settle in for a lovely stroll, it absolutely requires it. For me, as with most books, I jumped in expecting a whirlwind that would whip me off my feet and into my imagination, and that isn't the tactic this book takes. But, once I settled in to the slower pace I found the story to be lovely. The settings and the emotions were vivid. The characters had real emotional baggage and their thoughts, actions and feelings seemed to accurately portray them. The characters also held very true to their own personalities and motivations as they changed and grew. I cared about Benedict and Samantha, I cared about their relationship and their resolution, and better their changes and resolutions actually made absolute sense with the story that was told, which seems to be a fairly rare trait now.

Overall I give this book 4 stars and I will be looking into the rest of the series.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Against the Cage

I received an ARC of this book from the Publisher, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

Against the Cage (Worth the Fight #1)by Sidney Halston (Goodreads Author)

In her Loveswept debut, Sidney Halston turns up the heat as a sexy cage fighter shows a former bookworm how delicious a few rounds between the sheets can be.

For Chrissy Martin, returning to her Florida hometown always seems to bring bad luck. The day starts with a breakup text, followed by a jailhouse phone call from her troublemaker brother. Now a routine traffic stop has ended with her accidentally punching an officer . . . in a delicate place. Then Chrissy realizes that the hot cop on the receiving end of her right hook is none other than the man from her teenage fantasies.

Jack Daniels knows how to take a hit. After all, when he’s not chasing reckless drivers, he’s kicking ass in a mixed martial arts ring. So what takes his breath away isn’t the low blow, but the woman who dealt it: a gorgeous knockout with legs Jack wouldn’t mind being pinned under—who just so happens to be his best friend’s nerdy little sister, all grown up. Soon their instant chemistry leads to a sizzling affair, but Jack and Chrissy are fighting an uphill battle if they want to make love last beyond the final bell.

Against the Cage is mostly a pretty humorous book. The two main characters have quite a bit of history together so the relationship progresses rapidly. The plot mainly revolves around the heroe's fighting and the heroine's opinion about his MMA fighting, as well as her opinion about her brother's fighting (both in the cage and out), so it looks like this will be a series similar to Lori Foster's SBC fighters series. This looks like the author's debut to publishing, and as such she did a bang up job. There were a few instances where the heroine's mood was a bit bipolar, and a few spelling and grammatical issues like "you're" for "your" but overall it was an interesting story with engaging characters. The set up for future characters and future books was intriguing without detracting from the current story and I look forward to the rest of the series.

Alpha's After Dark

Alphas After Dark (Takhini Shifters #1)
by Vivian Arend, Deanna Chase, Marie Hall, M. Malone, Crista McHugh, Roxie Rivera, Kit Rocha, Mimi Strong, S.M. Reine

I like picking up anthologies and bundles because they are an economical way to introduce myself to new authors and find new series to read. I picked this one up specifically for Vivien Arend's Copper King.