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TinaNoir

Tina's Reading Books

Genre fiction lover:  Romance, Sci Fi, Fantasy, Mystery, Urban Fantasy

Birdie

Birdie - M.C. Carr

I enjoyed this book quite a bit. I found the story really engaging, the relationship between the two mains was well developed with just the right amount of angst and the characters felt realistic.

The book is called 'Birdie' and for good reason. This is really her story although Wes has a good amount of real-estate and is sometimes more sympathetic than Birdie.

Birdie is biracial. She believes she was adopted into her all white family. Until a bombshell is dropped and suddenly she finds herself plucked out of her familiar school in the last four months of her senior year and dumped onto her unsuspecting uncle Tim, a sheriff who lives in the town where he and her mother grew up.

We first meet Wes as he overhears an intense conversation between Birdie and her mother. His response immediately endears him to me. He is quick witted and his subsequent actions signal to us that he is a pretty decent guy.

The book follows along as Birdie tries to adjust to her new situation, her new school and learning about her identity and her past. But we also follow Birdie and Wes into adulthood in a series of vignettes that allow us to watch their separation and then return to each other.

There are two central things about this book. The first is Birdie's coming to terms with her family, her mother and her feelings of abandonment. She has built a tough suit of armor and makes a lot of promises to herself in order to protect herself.

The second is Birdie and Wes' evolving relationship. This is truly a strength of the book. I like the way the author allowed this to evolve. Wes is drawn to Birdie and he is proactive about it only in the way that a person of confidence and conviction can be. Birdie is more wary. She's been a bit more battered by life than Wes and it takes a lot to get her to open up. A LOT. Until she does, we get to see them become friends, think a like, learn how to read each other's tells. It is such a nice relationship.

But this is a romance novel and things can't be smooth especially not when the two protagonists start out their romance as teenagers. We live with Wes and Birdie over about seven years where they break up, move away, argue, fight, but somehow manage to still find their way back to each other. I must say I did want to smack Birdie on two very distinct occasions, but I got Birdie so I couldn't be too mad at her.

In the end I come away with the simple fact that these two were meant for each other regardless of obstacles even the ones they make for themselves.

Outside of Wes and Birdie's relationship I did like a lot of other little details that made the book feel textured. Birdie and Tim's relationship, the complicated and fraught relationship with her mother, Wes' family dynamic, the significance of a cookie recipe, a lyric journal, Birdie's first book club...so many things.

One thing that stops me from giving it a full five stars is that I would have liked the final act to play out longer. I needed them to let their romance flourish a bit more once they had come together for the final time. It felt too abrupt. I wanted to spend more time with the older, wiser, really have their heads on right Birdie and Wes. Even an epilogue would have been welcome.

Otherwise it was a really nice book.

Love in The Light

Love in the Light - Laura Kaye

I really waffled between 3 & 4 stars. I wanna give it 4* for sentimental reasons because I like this couple. But really feeling 3* for execution. So I am going with 3.5 stars.

This is the sequel to Hearts in Darkness. The first book was a novella that ended in a HFN.

It was the first book by this author that I read and, imo, remains her best. I really enjoyed that one because it took a very simple premise and made it into an affecting and believable romance in a short space.

So I was very happy to know we were going to revisit Makenna and Caden and see how their romance was going. I was very happy as I was reading to see they were committed and still felt like the couple I met in that dark elevator.

Makenna is a great girlfriend who unconditionally supports Caden. I liked pretty much everything Makenna did in this book. She never was stupid. I am glad the author resisted the impulse to make her do some of the cliche romance novel things that too many heroines are made to do in their books. Makenna is rational and completely in it to win it with her guy.

Caden did most of the heavy lifting when it comes to the story's emotional center. He had a raft of issues in the first book and they are still there here in this one. Because things are going really well with Makenna and he is completely gone over her, his issues begin to surface with a vengeance. it is a case of 'everything is going so well, something is going to come along and screw it up' syndrome that some people who've suffered from deep misfortune seem to suffer from. Despite Makenna's best efforts to be his rock, Caden is the one who needs to confront his stuff inside him before they can move forward.

My two biggest reasons for not rating this higher are 1) I thought the author did too much of a good job convincing us of the seriousness of Caden's issues for him to have what felt like such a quick turn around in the end. And 2) There were a couple tv show level predictable moments that I knew would (but hoped wouldn't) happen. There was a little too much synergy in some things to not make me sigh a bit:

 

Caden's big trauma has to do with his family dying in a car accident while the car was rolled over and he was trapped for hours as a young boy. So of course, Makenna is in a car accident and roll over too.

(show spoiler)


But aside from that, the book was a welcome revisit. And I liked how Caden interacted with Makenna's brothers and her father. Good family scenes there.

Naked In Death

Naked in Death  - J.D. Robb, Susan Ericksen

Originally read in 1995, re-read 2016

The year is 2058. Prostitution is legal and licensed, guns are considered antiques akin to the crossbow, real coffee and meat are hideously expensive, and Eve Dallas is one of New York's finest.

She is called to the scene of a crime where a Licensed Companion is found murdered and the weapon of choice is a gun. Guns are kept in museums or are in private collections of the rich. One such private collector is the handsome billionaire Roarke (no last name, just Roarke). He becomes a prime suspect. Even though two other victims are murdered by the same MO, the first victim was the granddaughter of a state senator who has an eye toward the presidency. The powerful family puts pressure on Eve to find the murderer while simultaneously using her death further their conservative political agenda.

As Eve continues her investigation she grows closer to Roarke and learns some surprising truths about her victim.

I bought and read this book back in 1995 when it was first published. Having followed Nora Roberts from her Silhouettes to her mass market novels, I figured I was prepared for what she was writing under this newfangled pseudonym.

I was not prepared for Eve Dallas. I honestly don't think that at the time any Nora Roberts fan was at all prepared for what JD Robb had to say.

Eve Dallas was very different from any romance heroine at the time (and I would also argue even now). She's a hard, tough bare-knuckled brawler who has such a clear moral center and a commitment to justice that you feel almost righteous as you read about her. Truthfully it is a misnomer to consider Eve a romance heroine or these books truly romance. They are not. They are police procedurals. But because the writer is Nora Roberts and they feature prominently the romance of Eve and Roarke, it is difficult not to consider them alongside other romances. They are more a mystery-romance-futuristic-thriller hybrid.

Tower of Thorns

Tower of Thorns - Juliet Marillier

Lightning Review:

- Liked this one better than the first book.

- As in the first book, Grim and Blackthorne are what makes this book work. But Grim really became the MVP of this book. And if I liked him a lot in the previous book, I loved him in this one.

- Kinda tickled that these books feel like they are shaping up to be a weird sort of fae mystery series with G&B as partners who find themselves called upon to right wrongs and solve magical mysteries.

- Outside of the character development of G& B there are two parallel stories happening. One is the mystery of the Tower and how to defeat the monster in it. The other is a little more aligned with Blackthorne's past and once again her temptation to defy the conditions of her deal with Fey and seek her revenge.

- Unlike the previous book where I didn't really start to enjoy the 'mystery' piece until the second half of the book, the mystery of the Tower gripped me right away.

- Did I say I loved Grim? His quiet, unyielding loyalty to Blackthorn is a thing of beauty.

- The climatic chapters/ending made me tear up a little, sigh a little and smile a little.

Very curious to see how G&B's relationship develops after this now.

Good series.

Kiss Of Steel

Kiss of Steel - Bec McMaster

Interesting take on vampires and how the author built her society.

The steampunk elements were very light. Some bio mechanics, mention of a steam cab -- that was kinda it.

I liked the characters for the most part and I found the romantic chemistry was well presented.

But the plot and pacing were not spry. I felt like I was taking forever to read this book. And I was always amazed about how much I had left.

I wanted them to get the big showdown -- because, you knew there was gonna be a big showdown -- in the biggest way. When they finally did it was a relief.

Not bad, just 'OK' but I am not chomping at the bit to get the next one.

The Dirt on Ninth Grave

The Dirt on Ninth Grave - Darynda Jones

I started reading this book with some hope and some trepidation.

I did not like the last book very much. As a matter of fact over the course of the series I have not been enjoying the overall central arc of Charley discovering what she is. For me the way the story is spooling out feels muddy and not very thoughtful.

If the central story of Charley's origins and her fate felt more ... I dunno... immediate, exciting, cohesive... I would be all over this. In raptures. But instead it feels like it is getting in the way of a good series. I fell in love with the first book. Utterly in love. I was really enjoying the series until i kinda wasn't. I think if this had just been a PNR detective series with all the same personalities and without the the boggy "What is Charley" stuff happening in the middle, I would love it still.

That said, I really enjoyed this installment. You know how when a tv series kinda goes a little off tilt and the next season they do a reset? That is what this felt like. In the aftermath of some really WTF stuff that happened at the end of the previous book (and WTF not in a good way, imo) Charley ends up in Sleepy Hollow, NY with no memory of what or who she is. We meet her as a waitress named Janey Doerr (of course Charley would never be as mundane as to call herself Jane Doe).

She has discovered that she can see dead people. It has taken her awhile to come to terms with that but she manages to roll with it and keep it a major secret from her co-workers. Even though she has no idea who she is, we recognize her still as Charley. She still has her insane love of coffee, her penchant for naming inanimate objects (Hi Denzel!) and her need to help people. I found it interesting that even though she is still Charley, the author managed to mute her somewhat in a believable way. Part of Charley's shtick has always been her outsized personality, her slapstick humor, the way she seems to never take anything too seriously. Her personality is only 1/2 outsized, her humor has been turned down to ten instead of twenty and she is very aware of the seriousness of her situation even though she tries not to dwell on it. It was like seeing Charley through a smoky mirror. I actually liked this smoky mirror Charley.

Of course her team manage to find her and surround her as regulars in the diner she works at. It was nice to see everyone there but also not quite their normal selves and they watch over Charley and wait for her to regain her memories.

I admit, I have not always been a fan of Reyes, but this book made me like him a whole lot. There was a thread of pure romance in this one. Charley has to fall for Reyes all over again not knowing who he is, while he has to stand helplessly by and wait for her to remember him.

A big plus for me is that Charley does some ghost-y stuff in this one which has always been my favorite aspect of the series. She helps solve a couple of ghost related things in satisfying side plots as well as play matchmaker.

I also admit, I liked how the author affected Charley's memory return. It was a good moment of series continuity and rather ingenious.

So this book was a good rebound from a couple of real clunkers

Angel's Fall

Angels Fall - Nora Roberts

I read this book before because Goodreads tells me I rated it a '3 stars.' But I literally have no memory of it and got sucked into the audiobook while I was putting together a standing desk.

*** sidenote, seriously a standing desk is great! also listening to audiobooks makes tedious stuff like that go so fast***

...Anyway....

I listened to this on audio with Joyce Bean narrating. She is a great performer. Very expressive. I have listened to her on several Linda Howard audiobooks and she never disappoints.

This is the story of Reece Gilmore. As we meet her she has just rolled into a small town in Wyoming with a busted hose on her car. We know that she drifts from place to place and we later learn that she was the sole survivor of a spree kill in a restaurant she worked in as a chef in Boston that killed all the rest of her co-workers and friends. Suffering from some serious PTSD and after a short stint in a psychiatric hospital Reece finds it easier to just check out, staying on the go, not putting down any roots, not creating any other relationships.

But she's low on money and Angel's Fist , WY is just as a good a place as any to get a quickie job and earn enough to head out. She gets a job as s short order cook in a diner and slowly, despite herself begins to become part of the town.

This is a romantic suspense story. The suspense part comes from Reece witnessing a murder, that no one else has witnessed and where there is no body and not even any signs that a struggle occurred. The romance part comes from the person of Brody, a writer who is a bit grumpy a bit snarky. But it also the only person who believes Reece saw what she saw. Even when it looks increasingly like she is making things up and jumping at shadows.

I liked the central structure of the story. The story is a bit of a nod toward Rear Window and a touch of Gaslight (Brody himself makes this observation in the book). It was a nice touch to see the different ways the killer tried to discredit Reece and gaslight her so she begins to believe like all the rest that she is making things up. There was no mustache twirler here. It was all done very subtly. As it becomes clear that the murderer is some one we know, the other bit of fun is trying to figure who it is.

What I really liked is that all the likely suspects were very nice. Great characters. You didn't want it to be one of them. She didn't throw in a total asshole just to give you someone to root against or to hope it was the killer. As the story went on and I realized who it might be I thought it was really cleverly done.

I liked Brody better than Reece, That is not surprising as I tend to like NR's heroes better than her heroines in her rom-suspense books. Brody was not a perfect, swoony hero. As a matter of fact, he was rude and a little obnoxious and struck just the right tone for the nervous Reece.

There was a great group of supporting characters and colorful townspeople. I even thought the eventual villain was a good supporting character. Sigh.

I do take a whole star off because the book was heavy in gender stereotyping. In was done in humor but I felt there were just too many instances where characters made observations about "Men are..." or "Men do..." versus "Women are.." or "Women do..." it might be nitpicky but it came off as annoying to me.

Anyway I upped my star rating to a '4' from the previous '3' because I liked it quite a bit.

— feeling sad

Dreamer's Pool

Dreamer's Pool: A Blackthorn & Grim Novel - Juliet Marillier

" 'We're friends. We work together. We understand each other. We put up with each other. We know when to stay around and when to leave each other alone. We're a team, Grim...The fact is, I can't do without you. We're friends.'

It came to me, through a blur of tears, that we'd been friends since the wretched, lice-ridden days in Mathuin's lock-up. Only, back then, I'd been to eaten up with bitterness to see it. In that place, we'd kept each other alive."


I've had this book for quite awhile. I actually got it after I read and enjoyed the Bridei Chronicles by this author. But kept putting it off.

The story starts off very fraught with the two main characters, Blackthorn and Grim, incarcerated in a prison. The conditions are vile.... they are dirty, vermin ridden, and abused. Their relationship is prickly and uneven. Grim, a hulking quiet man, is as protective as he can be in an opposite cell toward the woman he only refers to as 'Lady.' Blackthorn is bitter and hardened by her year in prison and alternately is friendly to or dismissive of Grim. She is laser focused on one thing. After one year she will get her day and in court and will seek her revenge on the person responsible for her incarceration.

But things don't go as planned. In order to save her life she enters into a strange bargain that requires her to delay her plans for revenge.

The bargain entails her to travel to a far land and take up the role as a Wise Woman. Grim, still in his self appointed task as her guardian, accompanies her. First via stealth and then, when she discovers he has been tailing her, with her begrudging acceptance.

The two of them settle in the principality of Delriada where they become embroiled in mysteries both Fey and mundane and help two very different women in need.

Despite what seems like a middling rating, I really did like this book. So much so that I am immediately starting up the second book.

So why the middling rating? The first half of the book kept fracturing my attention.

The story is told from three POVs -- Blackthorn's, Grimms and Oran's. Oran is the Prince of Dalriada. The three POVs are switched off chapter by chapter. My problem with the early half of the book is that I had absolutely no interest in Oran's chapters. None. I was riveted by Blackthorn and Grim's plight and their prickly relationship and their complicated personal history. By contrast Oran's early chapters felt like a detour in courtly banality.

Oh sure, I know enough about narrative structure to understand that Oran's story was going to be critical to Blackthorn and Grimm, but I didn't care at that point. I wanted to read about them!

The second half of the story picks up nicely when all three finally cross paths. And Oran's narrative surrounding his impending nuptials with a woman he'd only met through letters finally gets really interesting. It becomes suspenseful and, yes, a bit of a magical mystery. I guessed the mystery. Or so I thought. I was half right.

Outside of the Oran story was another mystery regarding the villagers of the princedom. A young girl is missing only no one but her best friend thinks she is really missing. Everyone else thinks she ran away. Blackthorn and Grimm manage figure out what is going on because they are outsiders and see things with an outsider's perspective. As a B-plot this was nice and gave the opportunity for some good character building and bonding for B & G.

Throughout the two main mystery plots, B & G must navigate their relationship. She still pushes him away, he still quietly and steadfastly wants to protect her. They both have pasts that we are not privy to. We only know a little bit of why they were both in prison. Blackthorn finally tells Grimm a little about herself. But his past is still a big mystery. There are hints it was something bad. But knowing the character as we do it is difficult to see him as being a really bad person. This will be interesting to see how this plays out.

In the end they have a breakthrough. Thank God. i was becoming more than a little peeved with Blackthorn and her insistence that Grimm was just a temporary companion.

It isn't a romantic relationship, although it may turn out to be one later, but for now they are companions and friends and realize that they do much better together than apart

The 2015 Awardies

CREE - LaShawn Vasser, Melissa S. Harrison Walk Through Fire (Chaos) - Kristen Ashley The Battle of Versailles: The Night American Fashion Stumbled into the Spotlight and Made History - Robin Givhan I Hunt Killers - Barry Lyga

I've already done  My Best of 2015 list.  But beyond my favorites there are lots of little things that stick out in the books I've read this year.  So here are my Awardies.  Awards given to total random things that stayed with me from my reading this year.

 

 

The All Along the Watchtower Award for best cover goes to...

 

 CREE - LaShawn Vasser,Melissa S. Harrison 

  • The cover is fab. Great color, great font, great hair and the model is giving face!

 

 

The Cougartown Award for Most WTF Book Title goes to....

The Devil's Beating His Wife - Siobhán Béabhar,Elizabeth Stock 

I read the whole book, wrote an in depth review, and even looked up the etymology of the title. It refers to when the sun is shining during a rainshower. Uh huh. Still have no idea how that title relates to what is essentially a Ghost/All of Me/Topper mash-up with a helping of Jim Crow on the side.

 

 

The All My Children Award for the Most Cracked Out Soap Opera Storyline goes to...

Perfectly Mixed - Ancelli,Danielle Harden,Taria Reed 

  • Mixed up babies, quickie divorces, BDSM PTSD, Kidnapping, Fraud, fistfights, cheating, spousal abuse and that was just the first chapter! (I kid, I kid…)

 

 

 

The Pootie Tang Award for Book with Bad Dialogue goes to....

Cut & Run - Abigail Roux,Madeleine Urban 

 They spoke actual English, you know -- nouns and verbs. Sometimes subordinate conjunctions and objects were thrown in there too. I largely followed the story. But still the characters speaking felt odd, stilted and unnatural. 

 

 

 

The Don Draper Award  for Totally Fucked up Character I Would Still Totally Fuck goes to....

On the Edge of Love (Mama's Brood Book 1) - Shay Rucker 

Zeus.  This guy has no filter, zero regular socialization, a little too ready to knife someone – friends and enemies alike. And yet, one of the most fascinating, interesting, characters I’ve read all year.

 

 

 

The Shake It Off Award for the Book That Really Took Its Title Seriously goes to....

Walk Through Fire (Chaos) - Kristen Ashley 

Dude, if I had to hear how either Millie or High would walk through the fuckin' fire for each other one more time I swear I was gonna hurl!

 

 

 

 

The Project Runway Award for book Most In Need Of  It's a MotherFuckin' Walk OFF!  goes to....

The Battle of Versailles: The Night American Fashion Stumbled into the Spotlight and Made History - Robin Givhan 

OMG, the descriptions of what went on during that momentous historical night at Versaille between five American designers and five French designer NEEDS video. NEEDS! But sadly none exists only snippets. I could weep. Also early example of #blackgirlmagic!

 

 

 

The Bitch Betta Have My Money Award for the Heroine Who Was So Fierce I Could Not Even…. ! goes to….

Entreat Me - Grace Draven 

Louvaen was so totally awesome. I mean she was confronted with a curse that turned a man into a ravening beast and all she did was quirk her eyebrow, rolled up her sleeves, fought killer vegetation, and saved her family and his. Basically she got shit done. And made the him fall in love with her in the process

 

 

 

The Maltese Falcon Award for the Inanimate Object With an Important Starring Role goes to....

Magic Shifts (Kate Daniels) - Ilona Andrews 

That damned earring! An holy cow, the description of everybody trying to get it in that damned box at the end was a great piece of scene crafting.

 

 

 

The Theophilius Lovegood Award for Best Names goes to.....

Playing Dead - Billy London 

The main characters are Gearoid McCardle and Aoife Boyake.  The author knew these names were special because the pronunciation guide is right in the blurb!

 

 

 

And the final award of the night, the biggie....

 

 

The Keeping it 100 for the Book With Best Synergy in Cover, Title and Story goes to....

 

 

  I Hunt Killers - Barry Lyga

 

The title, the cover art and the story all work together perfectly. 

 

The title is evocative and memorable. It isn’t one of those generic titles where you have to see the cover and/or hear the author 's name along side it to remember which book it is. Either element alone – the title or the cover - would make your mind immediately flash to the story.  It is the type of cover and title that makes you pause even if it isn’t exactly your favored genre.   And most of all, it is a story that will make you want to recommend it to other people. And read the sequels.

Best of 2015

Spotless - Camilla Monk, Amy McFadden On the Edge of Love (Mama's Brood Book 1) - Shay Rucker Foxglove Summer - Ben Aaronovitch Magic Shifts  - Ilona Andrews Entreat Me - Grace Draven A Grave Matter - Anna Lee Huber

If I had to sum up how I came up with the list of favorite books I read this past year it would be: They made me feel good when I closed the last page.

 

And by good I don't mean super happy or that the book was funny, but that I felt like I just had a great reading experience.

 

So in no particular order:

 

The books that put a goofy smile on my face:

 

Spotless - Camilla Monk,Amy McFadden 

Spotless - Camilla Monk,Amy McFadden

"Have you read Accidentally Married to the Billionaire Sheikh?"

March cringed "No, I haven't read...that."

"You should. It's a compelling read and an insightful look into the dynamics of relationships that start with abduction and forced marriage." I narrowed my eyes at him hoping he would get the point "In the beginning, Swanella --"

"Wait, the heroine's name is Swanella?"

 

 

The Deal - Elle Kennedy 

The Deal - Elle Kennedy  

 

“Just out of curiosity,” she says, “after you wake up in the morning, do you admire yourself in the mirror for one hour or two?”

 

“Two,” I reply cheerfully.

 

“Do you high five yourself?”

 

“Of course not.” I smirk. “I kiss each of my biceps and then point to the ceiling and thank the big man upstairs for creating such a perfect male specimen.”

 

 

The Parfit Knight - Stella Riley 

 

The Parfit Knight - Stella Riley 

“There was, in fact, one inmate of Oakleigh Manor who as not reconciled to his lordship’s presence. Contemptuous of mankind in general and outraged in particular by those members of who were rivals for his mistress’ attention, Broody sat on his perch and eyed the Marquis with growing malevolence”

 

 

Books that stuck with me long after I read them:

 

On the Edge of Love (Mama's Brood Book 1) - Shay Rucker 

 

On the Edge of Love (Mama's Brood Book 1) - Shay Rucker 

"Take away the crazy, three-quarters of the possessiveness, enhance his communication skills, and decrease his love for sticking people with sharp objects and she wouldn't hesitate to have sex with him. She was barely hesitating as it was."

 

 

Behind Blue Eyes: Hells Vipers, Book Two - Jordan Abbott 

Behind Blue Eyes: Hells Vipers, Book Two - Jordan Abbott 

 

“Pipe, don’t drink out of the carton!” She hated that her voice reflected the overwhelming insecurity she was feeling.

 

“Pipe, drink out of the glass, bro” Nuke said trying to defuse her foul mood.

 

“I hate it when Mom and Dad fight!” Pipe whined

 

“You’re upset because you were worried,” Nuke said, ignoring Pipe.

 

“Hell yes, I was worried!.”

 

He backed her into a wall, and they struggled again briefly before he pinned her hands above her heard with one hand. He gripped her face with his other hand and kissed her soundly on the mouth.

 

“This is hot! I hope they fuck. Where’s my phone?” Pipe started searching through the pickets on his cut and pants. “I got to record this! Wait you two, hold on a second.”

 

When he broke his kiss from her, Jasmine just stared at Nuke for a moment. “It might be foolish, but I do trust you. I fear the worst when I don’t hear from you.”

 

“I love you.” He whispered.

 

“I love you, too,” She said.

 

Entreat Me - Grace Draven 

Entreat Me - Grace Draven 

 

“I'm not laughing, and I'm not running. I wont lie either. You're a chilling sight to behold. I've had nightmares of monsters prettier than you." She stepped closer and raised her other hand to thread her fingers through his hair. This time he didn't flinch away. "But you're still you under all this flux nonsense. Only a fool of a woman would run from such an extraordinary man, and I am no fool, Ballard de Sauveterre.”

 

The Three-peaters:

Seriously, books from these series have made my best of list three years in a row....

 

Magic Shifts (Kate Daniels) - Ilona Andrews 

Magic Shifts (Kate Daniels) - Ilona Andrews  

“Give me some credit. Eduardo is one of our own. Finding him is all that matters. Besides, if I’d decided to pull Carver’s spine out of his body, I would’ve done it already.”

 

“Can you actually do that?”

 

Curran frowned. “I don’t know. I mean theoretically if you broke the spine above the pelvis, you could, but then there are ribs . . . I’ll have to try it sometime.”

 

Okay, then. That was not disturbing. Not at all.

 

“What do you suppose normal people talk about on their car rides?”

 

 

Foxglove Summer - Ben Aaronovitch 

Foxglove Summer - Ben Aaronovitch 

 

“The white boys knew they had my attention now, but hesitated -- that's the trouble with being a racist in the white heartlands, you don't get a lot of practical experience.”

 

Vision in Silver - Anne Bishop 

Vision in Silver - Anne Bishop 

 

 

“Meg Corbyn entered the bathroom in the Human Liaison’s Office and laid out the items she’d labeled tools of prophecy: antiseptic ointment, bandages, and the silver folding razor decorated with pretty leaves and flowers on one side of the handle. On the other side of the handle, engraved in plain lettering, was the designation cs759. For twenty-four years, that designation had been the closest thing she had to a name.”

 

Favorite audiobook/story discovery:

 

New to me author and series that I inhaled this year.  Decided to put this one in as a collective since I read all four books this year... or rather listened to all four. 

 

The Lady Darby Mystery series

 

The Anatomist's Wife - Anna Lee Huber  Mortal Arts - Anna Lee Huber  A Grave Matter - Anna Lee Huber  A Study in Death - Anna Lee Huber  

 

The Mentor

The Mentor - Aaron Maines, Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli

The first chapter was great.

The rest of the book not so much. Right from the second chapter, the characters & the writing felt obvious and flat.

I ended up skimming some and reading some. There were parts where I got the flashes of the really great that I had seen in the first chapter, but again there were more places where the book felt plotty and obvious. The last chapter was one of those 'all is revealed' dealies and ended in such a way that I suspect there may be a sequel? Because although the mystery was solved there were things that were left really unresolved.

Wicked Cravings

Wicked Cravings (Phoenix Pack #2) - Suzanne Wright

Well that de-escalated quickly.

 

This was a DNF. Mainly because hot on the heels of a very good first book, I felt like this was a lather. rinse, repeat.  Same exact heroine.  Just a different name  She had the same personality, the snarky banter, the same relationship with the cranky grandmother as Taryn had in the previous book.    And i felt the hero made too many decisions with his dick.  I wasn't as charmed or invested in this one as I became with the first one.  So I gave up.

Feral Sins

Feral Sins (Phoenix Pack #1) - Suzanne Wright

The only reason I actually got this was because
1. It was on Kindle unlimited
2. It came with free audible narration (I am in an audiobook mood)
3. The narrator was good

But I was very pleasantly surprised by and greatly enjoyed the story. The plot is really fairly simple.

Trey is the Alpha of a wolf clan that broke off from another clan. The alpha of that previous clan, his uncle Darryl, wants the two clans to re-unite again. They can either agree amicably for this to happen or they can fight it out. The problem is Trey doesn't want to re-unite and if Darryl pushes it they have to fight. Added to that, Darryl has a lot of clan alliances so he can call on some pretty heavy support to force the issue.

Enter Taryn Warner. She is the daughter of an alpha of another powerful clan. If Trey can convince Tarryn to marry him, they can in turn convince her father to ally with Trey and thereby even the numbers when it comes to the big, inevitable confrontation with Darryl.

They enter into what is a Mating-Of-Convenience -- well not technically just 'convenience' because they basically have lots and lots of sex.

The romantic conflict, obviously, is for Taryn and Trey to realize that their temporary mating isn't that temporary while staving off all sorts of external threats.

The writing is fine, Tarryn is super snarky and a bit of a bad ass dominant herself. Trey is all hotness and growls a lot.

They have a big supporting cast consisting of pack members, enforcers, friends, and enemies. Tarryn gets into a lot of confrontations with people because while they need her, some of Trey's pack don't like her. But Tarryn holds her own and is full of snappy one-liners and quippy rejoinders. And she slowly wins people over.

One thing I liked a LOT was that the author didn't drag out the faux mating thing between Tarryn and Trey to the bitter end. They had a few episodes of miscommunication and angst but they realized their feelings and got their stuff together well before the end of the book so it was really nice to have that dynamic as they went into the climactic confrontation with Darryl.

So the story was good. The world building is rather meh. Nothing different or interesting, really just run of the mill PNR stuff. I read a review where someone compared this to Nalini Singh's Psy/Changeling world. Yeah, No. Not even close. It was a fun book, good romance, good angst, fun one-liners and hot sex, but like I said zero world-building. And also, zero diversity. Lots of characters introduced & nobody of color at all. Or even LGBT.

The narrator of the audiobook was really good. There is a lot of explicit sex on this book and the narrator totally got into it. She didn't just read she did the groans and the moans, etc. LOL. Totally committed.

I'll probably look up the next one. Also in KU, also available in audio, same narrator.

Devoted in Death

Devoted in Death - J.D. Robb

Lightning review:

- As far as ....In Death books go, this one is somewhere in the upper-middle of the pack as far as enjoyability.

- I liked the concept of the 'Natural Born Killers' couple doing a murder spree and loving each other up. But I think I would have preferred them to fall more on the 'crime of opportunity' scale rather than what they were

They basically killed to spice up their sex life

(show spoiler)



- Great new character introduced in out-of-state Sheriff Deputy Banner. I hope we see him a again. Robb has been killing it lately with intro of new characters that create interest.

- Santiago and Carmichael, two members of Eve's team,  get a little more face time and even though their parts are involved in the investigation which is pretty horrific, they provide some great comedy

- Truheart! has a nice character progression

- One of the murderer's name is Ella-Loo. I just like saying it. Ella-Loo.

- This is all police procedural so it is very, very light on personal stuff. As a matter of fact only really the cops are in this book. No Mavis or Leonardo or Charles etc.

I listened on Audio and as usual Susan Ericksen does a fab job!

Carolina Man

Carolina Man (Dare Island, #3) - Virginia Kantra

Lightning Review:

- Of the three books in this series so far this is my least favorite

- I didn't really connect with the heroine or the romance. The hero was fine as a character, but the romantic tension & chemistry was just not present for me.

- ...but the plot surrounding Taylor is worth the story. It was the thread that wound through all three books and it more than Luke's (the hero in this) possible romance is what prompted me to read this. I was more interested in the family stuff than the romance really

- Apparently this series is not stopping at a trilogy but has at least another two books... probably won't  continue since one of the biggest draws has been the siblings/Fletchers and the family stuff (Taylor, their mother's accident, their Inn) and it looks like the other books don't follow any Fletchers.