Sunday, September 24, 2017

Book Review: Whispers of a Broken World by Jeff Pryor

Reactions to a poetry book can be varied, and I found this true of the different poems in "Whispers of a Broken World". A few I didn't care for, but I enjoyed many of the others in this collection by Jeff Pryor. The overall tone is one of despair, the view that this is a "broken world", and there's not much we, the readers, can do about it.  Some of the poems are more uplifting, such as 'Is It so Hard?' or 'Nature Night', but more are in the mood of 'I get sad' or 'Goodbye', melancholic and without hope.
A few, such as 'Prices', could be song lyrics. I could hear a tune as I read it.
My favorite was probably 'Do You Believe?'. It spoke to me as a writer and activist, but I think that any reader will find something to like in this collection. 

Link to Amazon

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Book Review: King of Code by CD Reiss

Taylor Harden is an ex-hacker who is on the cusp (yes, I used cusp - you'll get it if you read the book) of fame and fortune with his new unhackable system. Until, just as Wired is interviewing him, all his screens go black. His unhackable system has been hacked! He and his team manage to trace back to a small town in the middle of the US and Taylor takes off to find the hacker and get his system back.
Oh, I should probably mention here that Taylor is a thoroughly unlikeable misogynist, a typical Silicon Valley guy who works all the time and only cares about his core team of men.
He reaches the origin of the hack and almost immediately meets Harper Watson. He thinks she's beautiful and hopes she'll lead him to the hacker - except she is the hacker. She's also a genius, just as smart as Taylor. The resulting game of cat and mouse is intriguing, fun, and makes for a completely enjoyable read. The fact that the two have great sexual chemistry is just a bonus.
This is the first book from C.D. Reiss that I've read, but I've already preordered the next two that have to do with characters from this story. I come from the ITS world so I loved the technical aspects which were well researched and not too much for non-techies. The romance is hot and also tender. I thought it impossible that I'd grow to like Taylor, but by the end of the book I was totally team Taylor. Both he and Harper are great characters. I'll add that it was unusual for me to read a book entirely from the male hero POV and I found it thought-provoking to see how Taylor approached his life and the resulting changes due to the hack.
While not hitting the reader over the head with a sledge hammer, Ms. Reiss also made some great points about the 'elite coasts' and the rust-belt midwest. Harper's town had faded; the jobs are gone, the young have moved out, and there's not much hope left for the remaining people. Her writing is descriptive:
"We're the sale of the earth's what they say. Them in power, with the money. They stroke us. Jerk us off with some bullshit about how hardworking we are. Tell us we're the real America. Like we're stupid. Them fucks set man against man so we can feel like winners, but let me ask you." He held out his arms and stepped back. "Do I look like a winner to you?"
At the same time, there are many funny parts strewn into the story. The townspeople are real, and their humor shines through the book. Ms. Reiss manages to balance all the intrigue, the banter, the sex, the romance, and the politics into a satisfying and delicious goulash of a story that fills you up and warms you.

Link to Amazon

Monday, September 18, 2017

Promo, Excerpt, Review: The Sullivans Books 1-3 by Bella Andre

Contemporary Romance
Date Published: December 5, 2015
Publisher: Oak Press, LLC

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More than 6 million readers have already fallen in love with the Sullivans! Now get ready to meet your new favorite family in Bella Andre's New York Times and USA Today bestselling contemporary romances with the first three books in the #1 hit series.

"Not since Nora Roberts has anyone been able to write a big family romance series with every book as good as the last! Bella Andre never disappoints!" Revolving Bookcase Reviews

Chloe Peterson is having a bad night. A really bad night. The large bruise on her cheek can attest to that. And when her car skids off the side of a wet country road straight into a ditch, she's convinced even the gorgeous guy who rescues her in the middle of the rain storm must be too good to be true. Or is he?

As a successful photographer who frequently travels around the world, Chase Sullivan has his pick of beautiful women, and whenever he's home in San Francisco, one of his seven siblings is usually up for causing a little fun trouble. Chase thinks his life is great just as it is--until the night he finds Chloe and her totaled car on the side of the road in Napa Valley. Not only has he never met anyone so lovely, both inside and out, but he quickly realizes she has much bigger problems than her damaged car. Soon, he is willing to move mountains to love--and protect--her, but will she let him?

For thirty-six years, Marcus Sullivan has been the responsible older brother, stepping in to take care of his seven siblings after their father died when they were children. But when the perfectly ordered future he's planned for himself turns out to be nothing but a lie, Marcus needs one reckless night to shake free from it all.

Nicola Harding is known throughout the world by only one name - Nico - for her catchy, sensual pop songs. Only, what no one knows about the twenty-five year old singer is that her sex-kitten image is totally false. After a terrible betrayal by a man who loved fame far more than he ever loved her, she vows not to let anyone else get close enough to find out who she really is...or hurt her again. Especially not the gorgeous stranger she meets at a nightclub, even though the hunger - and the sinful promises - in his dark eyes make her want to spill all her secrets.

Gabe Sullivan risks his life every day as a firefighter in San Francisco. But after learning a brutal lesson about professional boundaries, he knows better than to risk his heart to his fire victims ever again. Especially the brave mother and daughter he saved from a deadly apartment fire...and can't stop thinking about.

Megan Harris knows she owes the heroic firefighter everything for running into a burning building to save her and her seven-year-old daughter. Everything except her heart. Because after losing her navy pilot husband five years ago, she has vowed to never suffer through loving - and losing - a man with a dangerous job again.

Enjoy the following excerpt from THE LOOK OF LOVE...

Chase almost missed the flickering light off on the right side of the two-lane country road. In the past thirty minutes, he hadn’t passed a single car, because on a night like this, most sane Californians—who didn’t know the first thing about driving safely in inclement weather—stayed home.
Knowing better than to slam on the brakes—he wouldn’t be able to help whomever was stranded on the side of the road if he ended up stuck in the muddy ditch right next to them—Chase slowed down enough to see that there was definitely a vehicle stuck in the ditch.
He turned his brights on to see better in the pouring rain and realized there was a person walking along the edge of the road about a hundred yards up ahead. Obviously hearing his car approach, she turned to face him and he could see her long wet hair whipping around her shoulders in his headlights.
Wondering why she wasn’t just sitting in her car, dry and warm, calling Triple A and waiting for them to come save her, he pulled over to the edge of his lane and got out to try and help her. She was shivering as she watched him approach.
"Are you hurt?"
She covered her cheek with one hand, but shook her head. "No."
He had to move closer to hear her over the sound of the water hitting the pavement in what were rapidly becoming hailstones. Even though he’d turned his headlights off, as his eyes quickly adjusted to the darkness, he was able to get a better look at her face.
Something inside of Chase’s chest clenched tight.
Despite the long, dark hair plastered to her head and chest, regardless of the fact that looking like a drowned rat wasn’t too far off the descriptive mark, her beauty stunned him.
In an instant, his photographer’s eye cataloged her features. Her mouth was a little too big, her eyes a little too wide-set on her face. She wasn’t even close to model thin, but given the way her T-shirt and jeans stuck to her skin, he could see that she wore her lush curves well. In the dark he couldn’t judge the exact color of her hair, but it looked like silk, perfectly smooth and straight where it lay over her breasts.
It wasn’t until Chase heard her say, "My car is definitely hurt, though," that he realized he had completely lost the thread of what he’d come out here to do.
Knowing he’d been drinking her in like he was dying of thirst, he worked to recover his balance. He could already see he’d been right about her car. It didn’t take a mechanic like his brother, Zach, who owned an auto shop—more like forty, but Chase had stopped counting years ago—to see that her shitty hatchback was borderline totaled. Even if the front bumper wasn’t half smashed to pieces by the white farm fence she’d slid into, her bald tires weren’t going to get any traction on the mud. Not tonight, anyway.
If her car had been in a less precarious situation, he probably would have sent her to hang out  in her car while he took care of getting it unstuck. But one of her back tires was hanging precariously over the edge of the ditch.
He jerked his thumb over his shoulder. "Get in my car. We can wait there for a tow truck." He was vaguely aware of his words coming out like an order, but the hail was starting to sting, damn it. Both of them needed to get out of the rain before they froze.
But the woman didn’t move. Instead, she gave him a look that said he was a complete and utter nut-job.
"I’m not getting into your car."
Realizing just how frightening it must be for a lone woman to end up stuck and alone in the middle of a dark road, Chase took a step back from her. He had to speak loudly enough for her to hear him over the hail.
"I’m not going to attack you. I swear I won’t do anything to hurt you."
She all but flinched at the word attack and Chase’s radar started buzzing. He’d never been a magnet for troubled women, wasn’t the kind of guy who thrived on fixing wounded birds. But living with two sisters for so many years meant he could always tell when something was up.
And something was definitely up with this woman, beyond the fact that her car was half-stuck in a muddy ditch.
Wanting to make her feel safe, he held his hands up. "I swear on my father’s grave, I’m not going to hurt you. It’s okay to get into my car." When she didn’t immediately say no again, he pressed his advantage with, "I just want to help you." And he did. More than it made sense to want to help a stranger. "Please," he said. "Let me help you."
She stared at him for a long moment, hail hammering between them, around them, onto them. Chase found himself holding his breath, waiting for her decision. It shouldn’t matter to him what she decided.
But, for some strange reason, it did.

...Excerpt from THE LOOK OF LOVE by Bella Andre © 2015

Book Review:
I've read some of the other Sullivan books earlier; The Look of Love was one of those, but I reread it as it has been a while and I wanted to see how I felt about it now.
The Look of Love - Chloe is fleeing an abusive ex-husband when she meets Chase Sullivan, one of eight siblings who are all gorgeous-looking and mostly well-to-do. Chase is the photographer of the family. He and Chloe immediately hit it off and fall into bed while Chase is doing a photo shoot at his brother's vineyard. 
From This Moment On - Marcus, the oldest Sullivan and owner of the vineyard that's the setting for the first book, meets Nicola, or Nico, famous pop star and they fall into bed.
Can't Help Falling in Love - Gabe Sullivan is a firefighter in San Francisco and rescues Megan and her daughter in a fire. They are immediately attracted to each other and fall into bed.
All three books follow the same basic plotline: There's a tiny bit of story to set up each meeting, then chapters and chapters of sex scenes, then a resolution where the couples marry almost immediately. These are great beach books when you just want to read something without much depth and is very sexy.  

About the Author

Bella Andre is the New York Times, USA Today, Publishers Weekly and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of “The Sullivans”, “The Morrisons” and “The Maverick Billionaires” series. 

Having sold more than 6 million books, Bella Andre's novels have been #1 bestsellers around the world and have appeared on the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists 33 times. She has been the #1 Ranked Author at Amazon (on a top 10 list that included Nora Roberts, JK Rowling, James Patterson and Stephen King). Apple iBooks named her one of their “Bestselling Authors of All Time” (alongside Nicholas Sparks, Nora Roberts and EL James). And Publishers Weekly named Oak Press, the publishing company she created to publish her own books, the Fastest-Growing Independent Publisher in the US. After signing a groundbreaking 7-figure print-only deal with Harlequin MIRA, Bella's “The Sullivans” series is being released in paperback in the US, Canada, and Australia. 

Known for “sensual, empowered stories enveloped in heady romance” (Publishers Weekly), her books have been Cosmopolitan Magazine “Red Hot Reads” twice and have been translated into ten languages. Winner of the Award of Excellence, The Washington Post called her “One of the top writers in America”; and she has been featured in Entertainment Weekly, NPR, USA Today, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, and TIME Magazine. A graduate of Stanford University, she has given keynote speeches at publishing conferences from Copenhagen to Berlin to San Francisco, including a standing-room-only keynote at Book Expo America in New York City. 

Bella also writes the New York Times bestselling Four Weddings and a Fiasco series as Lucy Kevin. Her “sweet” contemporary romances also include the new USA Today bestselling Walker Island series written as Lucy Kevin. 

If not behind her computer, you can find her reading her favorite authors, hiking, swimming or laughing. Married with two children, Bella splits her time between the Northern California wine country and a 100-year-old log cabin in the Adirondacks.

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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Book Review: Home Front by Shannen C Wright

In this second book of the Sanctuary series, Kana has arrived in the jungles of China towing her young son, Michael. She meets up with Vincent (the werewolf boyfriend), Gabby (the ice queen), Lola (Gabby's shapeshifter daughter), Chloe (the vampire), Barney (the shade), and Luca (the trickster) in Gabby's new hotel for monsters.
Kana struggles to fit in as a mere human. She doesn't listen, thus causing more trouble for the group, but when Chinese soldiers show up, and then a new monster, Circe, it's up to Kana to save them all with a little bit of help.
This is a great book for YA readers who will recognize many of Kana's traits in themselves and their friends. She's about twenty-two in the book, but often seems much younger. Yet there's no doubting her love for her son and her loyalty to her friends. Now I need book 3 to come out!

Link to Amazon

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Book Review: Black Bird of the Gallows by Meg Kassel

Angie Dovage has a new neighbor. Reese Fernandez is good-looking, athletic, and is at the center of some odd going-ons. Angie is intrigued though he's really not her type and starts following him around, trying to understand the mystery. She finds more than she bargained for with paranormal happenings such as non-human beings and murders of crows.
I enjoyed this book so much. I thought it might be a YA story about the odd girl, the handsome guy, and the mean girl when I started reading, but it soon became something very different. The supernatural aspects were intriguing, drawing the reader into this world of the remnants of magic. The harbingers of death and the beekeepers were not something I've read about before and made this book truly unique.
Angie was so much more than the odd girl trope as was Reese much darker than the good-looking guy. The other characters supplemented the story perfectly. All-in-all, the result was a surprising and satisfying conclusion to a beautifully written story. 

Link to Amazon

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Book Tour and Giveaway: Four Victorian Romances by Rachel Brimble


The Seduction of Emily
by Rachel Brimble
Genre: Victorian Romance

Seduction is a wicked game, and no one plays it better than the devilish Will Samson in Rachel Brimble's captivating new novel. . .

Since girlhood, Emily Darson has accepted that she will marry Nicholas, the son of her father's trusted business partner. The marriage contract safeguards her family legacy, Emily's fortune, and everything she values--except her independence. Only when a sinfully handsome scoundrel enters her life does Emily realize quite how much a loveless match will cost her.

Will Samson has advanced from expert pickpocket to confidence trickster of the highest caliber. Now he has come to Bath to exact vengeance on the man who destroyed his mother--the man Emily will soon marry. But from his first glimpse of the enemy's bewitching, spirited fiancée, Will's plan changes.
Amid the ballrooms and salons of elegant society, heated glances explode into scandalous kisses. Revenge is sweet, but surrender will be irresistible. . .

The Temptation of Laura

Laura Robinson has always been dazzled by the glamour of the stage. But perhaps acting and selling one's favors are not so different—for Laura must feign pleasure with the men she beds to survive. Now, with her only friend at death's door and a ruthless pimp at her heels, escaping her occupation seems impossible. Hoping to attract a gentleman, she attends the theater. Yet the man Laura captivates is no customer, but a rising star and playwright. . .

What a Woman Desires

From country girl to actress of the stage, one woman dares to live her dreams—but is she brave enough to open her heart. . .?

Monica Danes always wanted more than the village of Biddlestone had to offer. After a failed courtship to a man of her parents' choosing, she fled for the city of Bath and never looked back. Today, Monica is the undisputed queen of the theater—a wealthy, independent woman. But when she is called home in the wake of tragedy, Monica returns—intending to leave again as soon as possible.

Thomas Ashby has been a groom at the Danes estate since he was a boy—and has been enamored with Monica for almost as long. He knows he isn't a suitable match for his master's daughter, despite the special bond he and Monica have always shared—and their undeniable attraction. But now that she's returned, Thomas has one last chance to prove himself worthy—and to show Monica a life, and a love, she won't want to give up. . .

Her One True Love

Jane Charlotte Danes has loved the squire of her idyllic country town for as long as she can remember. He is good, kind, and alluring beyond words… and he chose to marry another. Tired of dwelling on her futile longings, Jane plans a move to Bath, where she dreams of a new beginning. But the man who has so imprisoned her heart is only a few steps behind…

He Can't Let Her Go…

Until now, Matthew Cleaves has endeavored to meet the responsibilities of his position with dignity and good spirits--including his dutiful marriage. But when his wife leaves him for another man, Matthew is at last free to pursue his one true love. Only one vital question remains: will the captivating, stubborn, beautiful Jane allow him the challenge, and the pleasure, of winning her back?.. 

Rachel lives with her husband and two young daughters in a small town near Bath in the UK. Here first novel was published in 2007. Since then, she's had several books published with small presses and since 2012 has written mainstream romance and romantic suspense for Harlequin Superromance (Templeton Cove Stories) and Victorian romance for eKensington/Lyrical Press.

Agent represented in the US, Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and Romance Writers of America, When she isn't writing, you'll find Rachel with her head in a book or walking the beautiful English countryside with her family. Her dream place to live is Bourton-on-the-Water in South West England. And in the evening? Well, a well-deserved glass of wine is never, ever refused...

Follow the tour HERE for exclusive content and a giveaway!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

New Release: Black Bird of the Gallows by Meg Kassel

A simple but forgotten truth: Where harbingers of death appear, the morgues will soon be full.
Angie Dovage can tell there’s more to Reece Fernandez than just the tall, brooding athlete who has her classmates swooning, but she can’t imagine his presence signals a tragedy that will devastate her small town. When something supernatural tries to attack her, Angie is thrown into a battle between good and evil she never saw coming. Right in the center of it is Reece—and he’s not human.
What's more, she knows something most don't. That the secrets her town holds could kill them all. But that’s only half as dangerous as falling in love with a harbinger of death.

Meg Kassel is an award-winning author of fantasy and speculative books for young adults. A graduate of Parson's School of Design, she’s always been creating stories, whether with visuals or words. She worked as a graphic designer, a waitress, a tour guide and a farm hand. Meg is a New Jersey native who now lives in a log house in the Maine woods with her husband and daughter. A fan of ’80s cartoons, Netflix series, and ancient mythology, Meg has always been fascinated and inspired by the fantastic, the creepy, and the futuristic. When she’s not writing, Meg is reading, hanging out with her family, hoarding peanut butter cups, or playing video games.