June 15, 2016

DNF Review: This Heart of Mine by Brenda Novak

Content Warning: Horrible, “holy shit, what the fuck?” levels of fatphobia; ableism; ignorant portrayals of mental illness; and all around shittyness. Seriously.  

Cover Description: a man and a woman walk their bikes next to each other while embracing.

Let’s play a game of “Find the Quote that Made Me Rage-Quit this Book” (the page numbers are from the kindle edition, so they may not match the paperback):

The noise of the dogs brought her mother to the door. Because of Lizzie’s tremendous weight, she moved slowly and ponderously, so Kyle was gone by then. Phoenix was glad of that. But it was never easy to contend with her mother. “What the hell’s going on out here?” Lizzie shouted, her words and tone containing the caustic edge she was so famous for.
(Page 36)

“I’m hungry,” her mother announced as soon as she was done, so she warmed up some soup, hoping her mother would eat a healthy meal instead of the cheap pizza, soda, chips, cookies and candy she normally consumed. Only when Phoenix had finished cleaning out a small section of her mother’s kitchen—the one part not buried beneath all the things her mother hoarded—did she feel free to return to her own place, and by then it was after two in the afternoon.
(Page 38)

March 8, 2016

(not quite a) Review: Fire Touched by Patricia Briggs

Cover image description: Mercy Thompson wears a blue tank top and jeans while holding a spear. Behind her there's a menacing-looking dog made out of cooling lava.
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

Warning: Mild spoilers for previous books in the series, but no spoilers for this one. Seriously, you don’t want to know what happens in the book, so avoid spoilers and reviews if possible (including this one, just in case I’m not as good at not telling things as I think I am). 

I have a weird reading history with this series. The first book I read was Night Broken (that’s the eight one, for those who don’t keep track) and as weird a choice as that sounds, I really liked it. I had no idea who any of the characters were, but I was pretty hooked regardless. And yet, I knew the previous books had rape, and I’m tired of the rape-as-rite-of-passage trope that seems so present in UF books, so it took me until last year to sit and read the whole series in order. But it only took me ten days to read them all. That’s how much I loved them. Yes, there’s rape and some unnecessary and surprising sexism, but I couldn’t put it down.

December 17, 2015

Holiday Hiatus

Someecard: A red card with a drawing of a man eating a pastry. The card reads: Sorry for eating all the cookies when you offered me one cookie.
Credit/Source: someecards 

I wanted to post my "Favorites" list before the winter break, but time wasn't on my side, so it will have to wait until January, and hey, this time I'm actually letting people know I'm on hiatus instead of disappearing for 6 months!

In the meantime, here's a link to my previous post, which I'm willing to bet you never saw. Yep, it's that time of the year when I find any excuse to promote old reviews.

I wish you all the best, most amazing holidays/break/winter/summer. Be kind to yourselves and don't feel like you have to do everything and be cheerful all the time.

See you next year!

December 7, 2015

The Evolution of the Small Town Romance: Shannon Stacey’s New Series

Image description: e-card with a couple dining and a text that reads: The nice part about living in a small town is that when I don't know what I'm doing someone else always does.
Image source: someecards

It’s no secret that I have a love-hate relationship with Small Town Romance (STR) and that one of the authors on the love side is Shannon Stacey. This year she published two new series, one with Carina, one with Berkley, and I wanted to talk about them, not because I loved them, but because I admire what Ms. Stacey is doing with the familiar sub-genre. Also, I have three review books, and everyone knows that the opinion post is the lazy reviewer’s shortcut to multiple reviews!

December 4, 2015

Mini Review: Star Dust by Emma Barry and Genevieve Turner

Source: review copy provided by the authors.

Space Age historical romance, do I need to say more?

This was such a lovely, surprisingly understated (considering the setting) book, and I had a great time reading it.
Cover Description: a man and a woman embrace against a night background where you can see the sky and stars.
It’s set in the early 60’s. The hero is a bit of a womanizing hot-shot astronaut, and the heroine is a recently divorced single mother of two. They butt heads at first. They fall in love. It’s sweet and charming. What’s not to love?

My favorite part about it, though, and the subject of this mini review, is how the story contrasts these two people and their situations to say something about the historical period, society and gender roles. He is an impulsive young man about to do something remarkable and is lauded as a hero for it. She is a young woman who did something remarkable--albeit not as unique as going to space--but by divorcing her cheating husband, putting herself and her kids first, and finding a job, independence and a better partner, she’s seen by everyone else as a villain or as a potential victim of her own recklessness, even though is his recklessness that might get him killed.

On top of that, the book is atmospheric and just plain fun. It brought back memories of being a kid and watching old reruns of I Dream of Jeannie and Bewitched, but with, you know, graphic sex *grins*.

December 2, 2015

Buddy Review: Stars of Fortune (Book 1 in the Everything but the Kitchen Sink Series) by Nora Roberts

It's been months since I last blogged, so to make up for it I've invited Ronnie to write a review with me. You may remember Ronnie for such things as being awesome and her reviews at Paranormal Haven. These days you can find her on Twitter and Goodreads. If you don't follow her, you're missing out! 

This review doesn't have a conventional structure, so here's the blurb to give you an idea of the plot.

Cover description: landscape of a Greek island.To celebrate the rise of their new queen, three goddesses of the moon created three stars, one of fire, one of ice, one of water. But then they fell from the sky, putting the fate of all worlds in danger. And now three women and three men join forces to pick up the pieces… 
Sasha Riggs is a reclusive artist, haunted by dreams and nightmares that she turns into extraordinary paintings. Her visions lead her to the Greek island of Corfu, where five others have been lured to seek the fire star. Sasha recognizes them, because she has drawn them: a magician, an archaeologist, a wanderer, a fighter, a loner. All on a quest. All with secrets. 
Sasha is the one who holds them together—the seer. And in the magician, Bran Killian, she sees a man of immense power and compassion. As Sasha struggles with her rare ability, Bran is there to support her, challenge her, and believe in her. 
But Sasha and Bran are just two of the six. And they all must all work together as a team to find the fire star in a cradle of land beneath the sea. Over their every attempt at trust, unity, and love, a dark threat looms. And it seeks to corrupt everything that stands in its way of possessing the stars…

Warning: All the spoilers.

Brie: First of all, no, the series isn’t really named “Everything but the Kitchen Sink” although it should be, and we’re about to tell you why. But let’s go back a bit first and talk about our relationship with Roberts’ books. I don’t know about you, Ronnie, but I have been a fan for years. Sure, there have been more than a few disappointments along the way, but I’m always excited about new releases, and Ms. Roberts remains a beloved author. I have, however, lost any type of expectation when it comes to her trilogies/quartets; in fact, the last one I truly enjoyed was Vision in White. But even for someone who has no expectations, this book still managed to surprise, and not in a good way.

August 18, 2015

Mini Review: Pairing Off by Elizabeth Harmon

Three words: Russian figure skaters! If that's not enough for you, here are some random thoughts that I hope will convince you.

Cover description: On the top half of the cover a man and a woman in winter gear smile at each other and are about to kiss; on the bottom half of the cover and a pair of figure skater are on the ice. The background is red.
The good:

The leads, Anton and Carrie, are smart, kind people who know what they want and work hard to get it. The hero is sweet and vulnerable; the heroine is self-aware and driven. Despite what the prologue suggests, theirs is a slow-burn romance that’s built on mutual respect and friendship. There are lots of interesting details about figure skating and the sport world, yet they are so well integrated into the plot that they never feel obstructive. I don’t know if the author has ever been to Russia (I haven’t, so I’m not a good judge of authenticity) but the story is incredibly atmospheric and evocative. Last but not least, the first half of the book is filled with amazing tension which makes for an emotional and gripping read.

The bad:

This book has an “other woman” and she only functions in one mode: mean. The hero is in a relationship with her for a huge chunk of the book. He doesn’t cheat on her with the heroine, but he’s obviously conflicted on account of her being so damn evil! There’s some mild effort put into justifying her actions, but frankly, those efforts were about making him look good rather than adding nuance to her character.
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FTC Disclaimer

The books reviewed here were purchased by us. If the book was provided by the author or publisher for review, it will be noted on the post. We do not get any type of monetary compensation from publishers or authors.