September 1, 2016

Book Review: Crimson Death by Laurell K. Hamilton

Title:  Crimson Death 
Author:  Laurell K. Hamilton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Synopsis:  Now, in her twenty-fifth adventure, vampire hunter and zombie raiser Anita Blake learns how far she’ll go to save someone she loves… 

When Damian—Anita’s sometimes lover, servant, and friend—is kidnapped, Anita heads to Ireland. There she must face off against the vampire who created him. M’Lady, Moroven, Nemhain…under every name she brings terror and destruction. But Anita brings her own weapon to the party: Edward, the man known as Death itself…

My Review:

I want to preface this review by saying that I have always loved the Anita Blake series, and I probably WILL always love the Anita Blake series. I have read every single one, and I will continue to read until the bitter end. However, there are a couple of things that have become very common throughout the last 10 or so books that do bug me.

#1 - Anita still constantly questions EVERYTHING around her. Especially when it comes to her relationships, her men/women, anything involved with that. It gets a little old when you have to read a two page explanation or dialogue discussing why she does or does not kiss one man or another, or why or why not she used to kiss this person, and why she feels guilty because she doesn't anymore. Or something along those lines.

#2 - Every time Anita goes somewhere to do actual police work, there is always at least one person who offends her because they judge her for sleeping with the "monsters" or looks down on her because she's a woman. We get it! This always happens to her, everywhere she goes. I'm just kind of getting tired of reading about it in every single book.

#3 - So much of the good part of the story gets bogged down by Anita's personal relationship drama. If you're new to this series, then for god's sake don't start at book #25 - go back to the beginning so the rest of us don't have to repeatedly get a refresher course! And Hamilton needs to give us all credit. We know who Anita's lovers are, we know how they became lovers, we know how they all fit together. We don't need yet another detailed explanation of a person's history just because they walk into the scene.

#4 - The ending was rushed, as usual. So. much. build. up. and then the finale is over in a dozen pages. I didn't get the satisfaction out of it that I wanted. There needed to be be MORE to the ending. The final battle was literally a couple of paragraphs. So disappointing! Probably a good quarter of the first part of the book could have been cut out so that we could have gotten the payoff at the end. Ugh!  And based on the synopsis, there should have been so much more of Edward involved when Anita fights the big, bad, ugly, but he pretty much disappears for the whole last quarter of the book.  The biggest let down was that there was so much that happened at the end that needed more explanation, or at the very least a couple of paragraphs description.  It was more like a list of this happened, this happened, and then this.  This should have been the payoff for the entire book, and it just fizzled out.

Overall, I liked it, but only because I love this series, and I love these characters. I'm invested enough that it would take something awful to drive me away from reading these books. But, I can agree with a lot of reviewers that over time the story has lost something as more and more of the polygamy/polyamory angle is incorporated. I wish it would go back to being about the crimes, the police work, the magic, and while I do love the romance/relationship aspect of it, it needs to be done differently in a way that doesn't bog down the story so much.

If you are a fan of Hamilton or this series, you will definitely want to add this to your TBR list. There's still way more good than bad in these stories that 100% make them worth the read. I'm still a fan, and will be anxiously awaiting the next Anita Blake book!

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August 25, 2016

Book Review: Disengaged by Jamie Magee

Title:  Disengaged 
Author:  Jamie Magee

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Synopsis:  Dark Romance Novel, sensitive topics—highlighted with religious elements (hope in the face of hell).

Finding herself stranded in a new city, eighteen-year-old Ember Bloom thought she’d reached her all time low. She was wrong. A mindless walk to a dead-end job landed her in the path of her gambling fathers’ enemies. Her only defense was a stranger, Slayton Winslow, a known enforcer and fighter—rumored to be Odin’s prince, underground royalty. On sight, Slayton stole her breath and rushed her heart. Slayton’s enigmatic attraction to her, how stoically he shielded her only churned Ember’s attraction to the bad boy who had given her safe haven in a real life hell. The draw to him, how he could reach her without saying a word, gave her a reason to fight, to awaken. She knew every second could be their last in the city seeded with treacherous deceit and life threatening power plays.

My Review:  

This book was okay, but had the potential to be amazing. The beginning really kind of put me off, and it took me until the end to warm back up to the story. Jamie Magee jumps right into action as soon as the book starts, but the events were so disjointed and confusing that it takes a while to catch on to what exactly has happened. In a nutshell, the female MC, Ember, has been "kidnapped" by local bad boy Slayton. They don't know each other - have never met - but Ember seems perfectly content to be dragged all over town on the back of a motorcycle, getting pawed and kissed, and never getting one word in explanation. This guy ends up taking her to his storage building where he lives, and locking her inside with him. No questions asked, no explanations given. Blew my mind, but not in a good way. And all because she was attracted to him at first glance. He walked right up to her and kissed her and then took her. Yeah, not really believable to me.
So anyway, it does get better after this, and I did really like both Ember and Slayton, but Ember was still a little too passive for me to really LOVE her. Slayton is the ultimate bad boy with a heart of gold, but that's been done a million times over, so not really that special. The story was new and refreshing, and I liked how it all ended up. I especially liked the end of the book where we got to see into the future for quite a ways, and received closure.
Overall, it was a good read. Had a couple of problems that bugged me, but nothing too major. Definitely worth the read if this is your thing.

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August 24, 2016

Book Review: Four Letter Word by J. Daniels

itle:  Four Letter Word
 Author:  J. Daniels

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Synopsis:  Fate. Hate. Love. Lies.

Which four letter word will change their lives forever? 

In an effort to avoid dealing with the shocking end of her marriage, Sydney Paige high-tails it Dogwood Beach, North Carolina to vent her anger onto the man who broke her best friend's heart. But when she unknowingly dials the wrong number, Syd's newly single world is turned upside down by a stranger who wants to keep her on the line.

Brian Savage is living a life he's quickly come to hate- until Sydney and her innocently wild voice. But Brian has secrets, ones that could destroy everything between them. And when the woman on the phone becomes the lover in his bed, shielding her from the mistakes of his past becomes harder and harder...

My Review:

I really, really liked this book! The characters were intriguing right from the start, and I loved how their relationship began. Brian and Sydney were perfect for each other, and the chemistry between the two of them was perfect! I didn't want to put this book down, and that's always a good thing. There were only two things that kept me from giving this book 5 stars.

#1 - The dialogue was a little off to me. Brian, in particular, didn't use pronouns very often, which bothered me. So instead of saying, "I want you right now," he would just say, "Want you right now." I know that it's a small thing, but every time that happened, it jarred me out of the story.

#2 - The ending seemed rushed. There was this huge buildup through the entire book over what I just knew was going to be a big conflict. And while there was an altercation and tension, it didn't live up to what I needed it to be. I was ready for a knock-down, drag out fight, and instead I got a hasty make-up. It either needed to be the big event, or nothing at all. The in-between just left me disappointed

Despite these two things, I loved this book. I can't wait to read the next book in this series!

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August 19, 2016

Book Review: Amber's Adventures: Professor's Plaything by Jenna Sparkles

***Free for a limited time on Kindle Unlimited***

Check out the newest books in Jenna Sparkle’s “Amber’s Adventures” series for free on Kindle Unlimited, or only $2.99 for all others. 

If you like short, naughty stories, then these are definitely for you!

Amber’s Adventures: Professor’s Plaything

My Review:

I don't normally read these short and dirty stories, but I have to say that Jenna Sparkles has me hooked!  She has offered all of her stories to me for free in exchange for an honest review, and so far I have not been disappointed!  
This book focuses on Amber's second year in college.  She passed her first year with flying colors, and is happy with her personal life.  She has a hot boyfriend that is sweet and sexy at the same time, and even helps her study.  Life couldn't be better.  Except for her Advanced Brit Lit class that is taught by Dr. Hawkins.  Dr. Hawkins sets unreasonably high standards for his students, and because of this, Amber is failing his class.  She has tried everything she can think of to improve her grades, but nothing is working.  So she decides to approach Dr. Hawkins and explain the situation to him, and then hope that he will empathize enough with her to help her out.  
This is where the story gets really interesting!  Dr. Hawkins proposes an *ahem* unconventional way for Amber to pass his class (cliche, but still totally hot!), and Amber is faced with a tough decision.  Does she betray her boyfriend, Matt, in order to pass this class?  Or does she just resign herself to a failing grade?  Once Amber makes her choice she commits wholeheartedly.  And she may just have a few surprises of her own for Dr. Hawkins.
Overall, it was a quick and uncomplicated read.  Perfect for a lazy afternoon or a lonely night.  I recommend it, but only if this is your sort of thing!

And don’t miss out on the first three installments of Amber’s sexy adventures:

Amber’s Adventures: Teacher’s Pet

Amber’s Adventures: Daddy’s Girl

Amber’s Adventures: Frat Boy Fun

Book Review: We Are Unprepared by Meg Little Reilly

Title:  We Are Unprepared
Author:  Meg Little Reilly
Genre: Fiction, Cli-Fi

Synopsis: We Are Unprepared is a novel about the next big storm, the one that changes our relationship to nature and each other…the superstorm that threatens to destroy a marriage, a rural Vermont town and the Eastern Seaboard when it hits. But the destruction begins months earlier, when fear infects people's lives and spreads like a plague. 

Ash and Pia's move from Brooklyn to the bucolic hills of Vermont was supposed to be a fresh start—a picturesque farmhouse, mindful lifestyle, maybe even children. But just three months in, news breaks of a devastating superstorm expected in the coming months. Fear of the impending disaster divides their tight-knit rural town and exposes the chasms in Ash and Pia's marriage. Ash seeks common ground with those who believe in working together for the common good. Pia teams up with "preppers" who want to go off the grid and war with the rest of the locals over whom to trust and how to protect themselves. Where Isole had once been a town of old farm families, yuppie transplants and beloved rednecks, they divide into paranoid preppers, religious fanatics and government tools.

We Are Unprepared is an emotional journey, a terrifying glimpse into the human, environmental and cultural costs of our changing earth. But hope awaits on the other side.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book was okay for me. It started out promising, but there were several points along the way that it kind of bogged down and I lost interest. I would put it down and go off to do something else, and then come back to it later. I liked the narrator, Ash, but there were certain times where his inability or unwillingness to confront or stand up to his wife really annoyed me. This is the first "cli-fi" book that I have read, and while I did enjoy the events that created all of the tension and suspense in the story, I ended up feeling like even that was disappointing. There didn't seem to be enough real preparing or worry about what was going on. The storm event that happened didn't really seem to live up to all of the hype.

My favorite part of the book was when the focus shifted away from the storm and dealt more with the relationship between Ash and his wife Pia.  It is interesting to see how outside events and influences change people, sometimes for the worse, sometimes for the better.  You learn more about a person in a second of crisis than you may ever know in a lifetime of peace and calm.  I enjoyed the journey that Ash and Pia went on as both evolved into different, and not necessarily better, people.

Overall, I guess I can say that it ended up being an okay read. If you like this genre, it is worth checking out.

**Copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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August 18, 2016

Excerpt: Amber's Adventures: Frat Boy Fun by Jenna Sparkles

Title:  Amber's Adventures: Frat Boy Fun
Author: Jenna Sparkles
Genre: Erotica

Goodreads **  Amazon  ** Facebook

Synopsis:  Amber has finally made it to college! She can’t believe her luck when she is invited to her first frat party by the hottest guy she has ever met. She can’t wait to find out what it is all of the hot college guys do when they party. However, Amber may be in a little over her head when she finds herself tricked into helping “initiate” the new Beta pledges at a frat party. Amber is always up for anything, but this time she may have to ask herself if maybe you can have too much of a good thing.

Excerpt:  A heavy silence descended on us as we entered the room.  I jumped as the door closed with a heavy thud.  I squinted in the darkness and could barely make out four guys kneeling on the floor.  A candle flared to life, and Zack stepped up beside me.
“Wait here,” he said.  He carried the candle to the center of the room and set it on a table.  Then he walked down the line of people kneeling and gently touched each one of their bowed heads.
“My brothers, you are here tonight to pledge your loyalty and allegiance to the Beta house.  Once you are accepted into this house, you become our family.  And in order to be considered family, we have to trust you beyond doubt.  In order to do this, we asked you to complete a series of tasks that initiate you into the fold.  Tonight you will complete your last task and become Beta brothers.  Are there any here who do not wish to carry out this last and final task?”  Zack looked at the four on the floor, and then his eyes locked on mine.  He inclined his head slightly and I knew he was also asking for my consent.  I slowly nodded my head, and he rewarded me with a small smile.  I held my breath and wiped my sweaty palms on my skirt as I waited.  When Zack was satisfied that none of the pledges were going to back out, he stepped away and came to my side.  There were two other Beta brothers standing in the shadows, watching silently.
“Okay, Amber, are you ready?” Zack asked. 
“Yes,” I said.
Zack grabbed my hand and led me to the center of the room in front of the pledges.  He stepped behind me and pulled both of my arms behind my back.  Fear spiked through me as the other two Beta brothers suddenly appeared on either side of me. 
“Wait, what’s happening?” I said as I tried to twist around and look at Zack.
“Shhhh, it will be okay.  Trust me.”  Zack said as he held me still.  The two silent brothers grabbed my arms and held me steady.  I struggled and then panicked as I felt a scratchy piece of rope cinch tightly over both of my wrists. 
“Zack, what the hell?”  Frantically, I tried to pull away from the guys holding me, but they were like mountains.  Unmovable.  Unyielding.
“Hush, Amber, it will be over soon.”  Zack said.  He quickly draped another piece of cloth over my eyes and tied it tight.  I yelped as pieces of my hair tangled in the knot and pulled.  Tears gathered in my eyes at the harsh sting. 
“I don’t want to do this anymore,” I said as I struggled against the restraints on my wrists. 
Firm hands pushed me until I began walking, and after several steps, my shins bumped into something soft. 
“Lie down Amber and just enjoy it.  It will be much better if you don’t fight.”  Zack whispered in my ear.  He spun me around and then shoved.  My knees buckled and I fell back onto a soft mattress.  I turned on my side to avoid laying on my tied hands.  Tears fell from my eyes and soaked into my blindfold.  What had I gotten myself into?  How could I have been so stupid?  I was always up for fun and games, but not whenever I didn’t have a choice.  If I got out of this unharmed, I would never trust anyone again.

August 11, 2016

New Release from Jenna Sparkles

If you like very hot erotica, these are the books for you!  Jenna Sparkle's has reached out to me for help promoting her new "Amber's Adventures" series, and I am happy to oblige!  Yes, they are short little novellas, but no, they are not just all about sex.  Don't get me wrong there is a LOT of very, very steamy and kinky sex involved, but there is also a lot of story.  And, these are very well written - not like most of the "porn" stuff out there.  I have read all three of her books, and so far I have not been disappointed!  Do me (and her) a favor and check them out.  All three are free right now on Kindle Unlimited, so you really have nothing to lose!  Or if you want to buy them, at $2.99 each, they are a steal.  And please, please if you do happen to read them, take the time to leave a review.  It doesn't even have to be a written review.  Just clicking on those stars makes a huge difference.  Thanks a million!

***Free for a limited time on Kindle Unlimited***

Check out the newest books in Jenna Sparkle’s “Amber’s Adventures” series for free on Kindle Unlimited, or only $2.99 for all others.  If you like short, naughty stories, then you should definitely check these out!

Amber’s Adventures: Frat Boy Fun

And don’t miss out on the first two installments of Amber’s sexy adventures:

Amber’s Adventures: Teacher’s Pet

Amber’s Adventures: Daddy’s Girl

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