Tag: Self-Published

Guest Review: Working On It by Cass Alexander

Posted March 24, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Working On It by Cass AlexanderReviewer: Tracy
Working On It by Cass Alexander
Series: The Persimmon series #1
Published by Self-Published
Publication Date: September 23rd, 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance, New Adult
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four-stars

Rebecca—The self-reigning queen of four-letter words is in trouble. She’s got it bad for the hottest guy at Persimmon College. Unfortunately, Mr. Sexy Man has a girlfriend. Too bad it doesn’t stop Rebecca from wanting him.

Evan makes his desire for Rebecca pretty obvious. Her inexperience and fear of getting hurt hold her back. Oh, and that running list of character flaws she has doesn’t help. But she’s working on it.

Evan—Rebecca Banks makes flinging insults an art form. She’s short, blonde, and the sexiest thing he’s ever laid eyes on.

Rebecca is everything Rachel—Evan’s girlfriend—isn’t. Breaking up with Rachel will be difficult. Letting go of Rebecca? Impossible. To Evan, Rebecca is f-ing perfect. She doesn’t need to work on a damned thing. Now he just needs to get her to stop running away from him.

Rebecca is a serious student but a girl who like to have fun as well.  She’s got more guy friends than girl friends and spends a lot of time at the Tau frat house across the street.  She thinks that Evan Michaels (part of Tau) is totally hot but she’s heard some pretty bad things about him over the years and tells herself to stay away.  She doesn’t, however, and is soon involved with him right after he ends things with his long-time girlfriend, Rachel.

Evan can’t get enough of Rebecca.  He loves that she’s happy almost all of the time and she makes him laugh constantly.  He especially loves the friendly insults she throws around and her potty mouth.  She’s gorgeous as well and he can’t get enough of her.  She’s nothing like his ex, Rachel, and he loves that about her.  Unfortunately Rachel’s name keeps coming up and Rebecca’s insecurities about their relationship get the best of her.

I grabbed this one off of Kindle Unlimited not quite knowing what to expect.  I’m happy to say that it totally surprised and delighted me in the end.  What I thought was going to be an angst-filled New Adult story was actually a cute romance that made me laugh out loud more than once – I loved that.

Rebecca is the kind of girl I always wanted to be when I was in college.  Relaxed and fun, lots of friends (with both guys and girls), and a good student.  I think I was one of those things – I won’t say which one. 😊  Rebecca grew up in a home where there was a ton of humor flying around and the family that actually loved and cared for one another a great deal.  There were no unrealistic expectations and you could tell how well she was loved by them in the confident way she held herself and the way she acted.  I really liked her character a lot.  I loved how she talked to herself and would go over things she wanted to work on – it just made me laugh.

“I tend to judge people inside my head, something my parents encourage me to work on since I suck at hiding my emotions on my face.  I’ll work on it later.”

Later in the book…

“I also lack a filter.  But I’m working on it. Sort of.”

I thought she was really great for Evan, she just doubted herself when it came to him.  It was a bit out of character but I could see that his experience with women intimidated her.

Evan took just a bit of time for me to get to like him.  At first I wasn’t quite sure what to make of him because it seemed like he was a player (even though he’d been with Rachel for a couple of years) and that he’d broken up with Rachel just to get with Rebecca.  When things played out we got the whole story and I understood him much better.  He also, at some points, felt like a stalker when it came to Rebecca, but that was explained eventually as well.  In the end I liked him a lot and felt that him and Rebecca were perfect for each other.

The story was hilarious at times and I loved laughing.  The story had a great mix of love, angst, laughter and sex and it just worked for me.  If you’re looking for a fun contemporary new adult romance you should pick this one up.

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars

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Review: Silver Shark by Ilona Andrews

Posted March 14, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Silver Shark by Ilona AndrewsReviewer: Holly
Silver Shark (Kinsmen, #2) by Ilona Andrews
Series: Kinsmen #2
Published by NYLA
Publication Date: September 16th 2011
Pages: 96
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three-stars

Claire Shannon is a killer. She uses no weapons, only her mind.
Born on a planet locked in a long war, Claire is a psycher, a woman with the ability to attack minds and infiltrate a biological computer network where psychers battle to the death. But when the war abruptly ends, Claire must hide her psycher's ability to survive. She is deported to a new planet, a vivid beautiful place, where she meets Venturo Escana, a powerful psycher, whose presence overwhelms both her mind and her body.
She thought she had left war and death behind, but now she must fight for her new life and this battle might just cost her everything...

Claire Shannon was born on the war planet Uley. For eons two companies fought over the right to use the planet’s resources, which meant nothing existed there but war and death. It was a gray planet with very little to do but fight, prepare and sleep. Claire is a trained Psycher, someone who can enter the bionet (think psychic plane, like the internet, Matrix style) and navigate through to access data and/or kill enemies. She’s a soldier. All comforts have been given up for the sake of the war. When the war suddenly ends, Claire hides her true self so she isn’t killed on sight (psychers are considered much too dangerous to be allowed to live) and ends up getting deported. Her new planet is filled with light and color, sounds, textures and strange flavors. For someone who lived with nothing but gray, it’s a lot to take in. But she’s determined to fit in and do her best.

She’s given housing, clothes and a job at the outset. She becomes the personal assistant to Venturo Escena, a  self-made businessman and psycher himself. She needs to fly under the radar so she isn’t killed for being a psycher herself, but she’s a true leader, she can’t help but push for more – for herself and others. It isn’t long before she’s indispensable to Venturo…or before she’s half in love with him. When one of her countrymen comes to her for help, she knows she can’t turn them away, even though it means possible exposure of who and what she really is.

The romance is secondary to the rest here, but it really worked. Andrews’ excels at building complex, multi-layered worlds. Both planets were easily imagined, as was Claire’s determination to live and succeed in her new life. I do wish this had been longer, or that there were more books in the series. At 96 pages, this ended much too soon. The conflicts were resolved, but I wasn’t ready for it to end.

3.5 out of 5

three-stars

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Review: Stolen Magic by Marina Finlayson

Posted February 23, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Stolen Magic by Marina FinlaysonReviewer: Holly
Stolen Magic (Shadows of the Immortals #1) by Marina Finlayson
Series: Shadows of the Immortals #1
Published by Self-Published
Publication Date: October 18th 2016
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 262
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three-stars

Lexi Jardine may be a thief, but she’s not stupid. When a crooked fireshaper wants her to steal a ring from the boss of his order, she knows it’s a one-way ticket to sleeping with the fishes. Her answer is to drop off the face of the earth.
Safely hidden in a quiet seaside town, she just needs to keep her head down and pretend to be a regular human. Since her only magical ability is the power to control animals, that should be easy, right?
Then a new fireshaper shows up in town. He’s hot as hell but oddly hostile. With his suspicious eyes watching her every move, her safe haven starts feeling more like a trap. When her best friend disappears, Lexi knows the time for hiding is over. The fireshapers might be more powerful, but Lexi’s not one to abandon a friend. It will take everything she’s got to save them both from the flames.

The world is broken up into Shifters (who change shape), Shapers (who control the elements) and Humans. Lexi is a little more than human, but not a Shaper or Shifter. She and her best friend, cat shifter Syl, have been hiding in a sleepy seaside town for the last several months to escape a Fire Shaper who wants them to steal a powerful magical artifact from the leader of the Red Adept, the ruling Shapers council. When another Fire Shaper, Jake Steele, shows up unexpectedly in town, Lexi knows she should keep running, especially after he takes notice of her and starts asking some pointed questions. She’s happy for the first time in years, though, so she talks herself into staying. As things heat up, Lexi finds herself getting in over her head – spending more time with Jake, meeting Vampires and getting wrapped up in a nefarious plot to steel magic from Shapers and Gods everywhere, In the end she and Jake will have to decide if they trust each other enough to work together.

This was a fun read. It wasn’t perfect – Lexi was almost too-perfect, aside from making questionable decisions (though her best friend often talked her down before she did anything truly stupid), but I enjoyed the premise. The world-building is shallow, but I was interested in finding out what was going on. Finlayson didn’t reinvent the wheel, but the mythology was fun to get back into. The action was good and I liked the budding romance between Lexi and Jake. This isn’t a deep read, but I was entertained.

Until it ended on a cliffhanger. Then I was just frustrated. The conflict was cleared up, but there were a lot of unanswered questions about the heroine and the overall story arc. I really wish this had been labeled as a cliffhanger. It wasn’t labeled as “Part 1”, either, but rather as “Book 1.” That seems rather disingenuous when this read as the first part of a full story.

I immediately bought Book 2, Murdered Gods, but it, too, ended on a cliffhanger (and felt even shorter and less complete than this one did). Book 3 isn’t out yet. I doubt I’ll be continuing the series.

3 out of 5

three-stars

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Guest Review: Bluebeard’s Curse by Regine Abel

Posted February 13, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Bluebeard’s Curse by Regine AbelReviewer: Tracy
Bluebeard's Curse by Regine Abel
Series: Dark Tales #1
Published by Self-Published
Publication Date: February 15th 2017
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 82
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three-half-stars

King Eric Thorsen, also known as Bluebeard, is once more widowed. Like all the others before her, his late wife succumbed to the lure of the curse that plagues him and threatens the realm. Willing maidens gather at the castle in the hope of becoming the next Queen. However, that title comes with a steep price: the King’s new bride must first resist temptation for one year and one day, or die trying.

Eric is tired of getting married.  He’s at a ball and he has to pick a new bride – his 28th bride to be exact.  All of his previous brides have died as he is cursed.  The bride must outlast the curse for 1 year and then it will be broken but so far the longest one has lasted only 6 months.  When Eric sees Astrid he’s intrigued.  She’s not his normal type but he can’t take his eyes off of her.  He thinks that maybe because she’s not like the others she can break the curse.

The pair marry and Astrid seems to be doing well but soon the temptation starts to get to her.  Eric has done the worst thing possible and fallen in love with Astrid.  Knowing she will probably die tears him apart but he hopes she can beat the curse.  Unfortunately, other people get involved and after that breaking the curse may become impossible.

Bluebeard’s Curse was a good story.  It was definitely different from your average romance and had a bit of a twist that was unexpected.  I wasn’t quite sure what the time period was or where it was set – seemed like an old Viking story but I wasn’t sure.  Despite that the added paranormal twist/curse was a wonderful aspect to the story.

Eric and Astrid were pretty great characters although since the book was so short it really focused on the “now” and didn’t get too much into their pasts.  We knew why Astrid had gone to the ball to be picked for the bride and eventually we learned of why Eric was cursed but that was about as deep into the past as we got.  Their relationship was the main focus it was definitely erotic as Regine Abel wrote some pretty wicked sex scenes.

Overall I liked the book a lot.  If you’re looking for a short fantasy/paranormal read that doesn’t involved vampires or werewolves then this would be a good one to pick up.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

three-half-stars

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Guest Review: A Crown of Bitter Oranges by Laura Florand

Posted February 1, 2017 by Jen in Reviews | 9 Comments

Guest Review: A Crown of Bitter Oranges by Laura FlorandReviewer: Jen
A Crown of Bitter Orange (La Vie en Roses, #3) by Laura Florand
Series: La Vie en Roses #3
Also in this series: A wish Upon Jasmine
Published by Laura Florand
Publication Date: January 24th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
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five-stars

From international bestselling author Laura Florand:
Childhood friends. Tristan Rosier might have asked Malorie Monsard to marry him when he was five years old, but things had only gone downhill from there. She’d spent the rest of their lives ignoring him, abandoning him, and destroying his perfumes. Now she was back, to wreak who knew what havoc on his life.
Lifelong enemies. Tristan might choose to dismiss the generations-long enmity between their two families, but Malorie didn’t have that privilege. Like all the other privileges wealthy, gorgeous Tristan took for granted that she couldn’t. But if she was going to restore her family company to glory, she might just need his help.
Or the perfect match? They’d known each other all their lives. Could these childhood friends and lifelong enemies ever uncross their stars and find happily ever after?

I gobbled up the newest book in Laura Florand’s La Vie en Roses series as soon as I got my hands on it, and once again I’m left in a puddle of mushy, smiling, love-soaked goodness.

I have loved funny, kind-hearted Tristan Rosier from the start of this series. (Quick recap: The Rosiers have been growing flowers and manufacturing perfume in Grasse, France for centuries. The books are about the cousins in the family.) He is the perfumer in the family, a genius artist who can capture most any feeling, memory, or dream in a scent. While it’s never named, it appears he has something like ADHD. He’s learned to cope now, but it made his school years excruciating. One way his teachers tried to rein him in was to sit him next to Malorie Monsard. Malorie was quiet and studious and sitting next to her gave Tristan a tiny dose of calm he badly needed, but she left home after graduating and rarely returned since then. Malorie’s family was once part of the area’s perfume royalty just like the Rosiers, but after they were disgraced in WWII, they were outcasts. Malorie’s grandmother managed to keep the company hanging on by a thread, but now that she’s dead Malorie comes back to Grasse to figure out what to do with her legacy. Can she resurrect her family’s perfume house with Tristan’s help, and does she even want to?

As with all the books in this series, Florand makes the descriptions of the sights, sounds, smells, and feelings so incredibly vivid that you just get lost in their loveliness. Part of Malorie’s inheritance is her grandmother’s beloved bitter orange orchard, and the scents and sights of that space are Malorie’s home base, so to speak. She goes there when she needs comfort, and she lets no one in. (So of course, when she finally invites Tristan there it totally cracks open your heart.) This book drives home the point that our concept of home can be tied up in our sense memories, and that is especially true for these two families who make their living with their senses.

Tristan could so easily be a big jerk – he’s rich, brilliant, gorgeous, women falling all over themselves to get close to him – but instead he’s wonderfully adorable and big-hearted. He definitely does have some entitlement as Malorie repeatedly points out, but to me it was mostly a positive kind of entitlement that we’d all like to have. He comes from a family that loves and supports him unconditionally, and that gives him strength and a certain confidence that everything will be ok. He isn’t unwilling to accept his privilege; he just needs it pointed out sometimes. He is constantly described as a happy guy. At first I thought that must be a false front, but as the book went on I decided it’s more that he truly believes that happiness exists everywhere, and that’s a direct result of the security that came from his family. He does need to learn during the course of the book that his situation is unique and that his name has helped him, but you can tell he does still genuinely appreciate his family and the life he has.

Malorie, on the other hand, got little love or support from her family. Her father was a shallow, selfish narcissist who gambled away family treasures, tried to buy everyone’s affection with charm and presents, cheated on her mother relentlessly, and then got himself killed while Malorie was still fairly young. Now, her sisters and mother have scattered and don’t have much of a relationship. As if that wasn’t bad enough, her great-grandfather was a Nazi sympathizer who betrayed the local resistance (of which the Rosiers were members), and that got the Monsard family cast out from Grasse society. It’s always a little difficult for those of us in America with our comparatively short history (and even shorter memories) to imagine, but I can see where something like that would cast a very, very long shadow on a family and a town.

So, Malorie has more than a few chips on her shoulders, to say the least. She has some pretty severe trust issues, and when Tristan shows up acting charming and wanting to help her, she simply can’t understand his motivations. Her memories of her dad keep getting in the way of her present despite the fact that she knows intellectually Tristan is not the same, and those feelings of shame and worthlessness that were drilled into her from birth prevent her from fully letting anyone in. For his part, we can see that Tristan is head over heels for Malorie, and all the charm and flirting has always been one of his ways of showing her how he feels. They start the book with a ton of antagonism and bickering, which of course is really just hiding their insecurities and true feelings. As they spend more time together, Tristan is definitely in love with her, but he moves slowly so as not to scare her off. I loved the build up of the sexual tension. It’s kind of a slow circling that goes on longer than I expected, and by the time they finally get together the scene is so emotional and gorgeous that it had me melting.

At first I was going to say these two had a communication problem, but the more I thought about it, I realized it was really more like a comprehension problem. Malorie craves family, craves security, and craves self-reliance, because she didn’t have much of the first two and has had to rely exclusively on the last one her whole life. She appreciates but doesn’t really understand the way Tristan bears his soul to her. She dismisses it not because she wants to hurt Tristan but simply because she doesn’t realize what he’s giving her. Similarly, Tristan makes a serious misstep when he doesn’t tell Malorie about something she really should have known. While I wasn’t thrilled with his omission, I truly believed he did it because to him, security and a sense of family legacy was always a given, and he didn’t anticipate how important something that gave those comforts to Malorie might be. It was like they were simply speaking different languages, and I enjoyed seeing them suddenly “get it” and learn to give the kind of love the other needed.

In case you couldn’t tell, I loved this book. I loved everything about it and I cannot believe I have to wait to read the next one. (Ooh boy, based on the ending of A Crown of Bitter Oranges, shit is going down in that next book!) This is a book full of lovely imagery, vivid characters, and so much sweetness. Seriously, if you haven’t already, go spend 15 minutes Googling “grasse france” to ogle some painfully beautiful pictures, and then go read this book.

Grade: 5 out of 5

five-stars

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