#Review: Dark Room, by @HeidiJoVT & @LPDover

dark-roomTitle: Dark Room (Society X #1)
Author: Heidi McLaughlin & L.P. Dover

Rating: 5/5 stars

“The rules of Society X are simple . . . break them and you’re out.

Rule #1 – No names
It doesn’t matter if you want to know, it’s forbidden.

Rule #2 – No exchanging numbers
It doesn’t matter if you want to call, it’s forbidden.

Rule #3 – Everything is to remain strictly anonymous.
It doesn’t matter if you want to tell, it’s forbidden.

The Dark Room is the only place you can live out your fantasies and no one will ever know it’s you.

For Parker, what started out as a business transaction has turned into an addiction.

For Mia, it’s been a chance to discover who she truly is.

What happens in the dark will have you begging for more . . . (description from Goodreads)

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A few months back I read Forever My Girl, a novel by Heidi McLaughlin. She’s one of the authors of Dark Room. The other, L.P. Dover, I’ve never read. But now that I’ve read this joint effort, I will want to check out Dover’s solo work, along with more of McLaughlin’s.

I don’t read many romances as sex-driven as Dark Room is. Normally, when a novel has too much sex in it, it turns me off of the story being told. For this book, it was never out of place, never too much, and never too often. Each scene of this nature drove the plot forward in the only way that the story could have been written. I’m was pleasantly surprised by this.

All of the characters in this book, main and secondary, were very fleshed out and I even enjoyed reading Mia’s douche of an ex. Along with the characters, these authors knew how to bring you into the setting. Whether is was inside Society X or an office, I could see each place and see the characters in the scene.

This book had some themes I enjoy in other books and other themes I’ve never quite gotten into before. Somehow, even the ones present in Dark Room that I’m not a fan of, I really liked. When authors can make that happen, they’re definitely ones to keep an eye on.

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You can grab this book from:

Amazon

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About the McLaughlin:

Heidi is a New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author.

Originally from Portland, Oregon and raised in the Pacific Northwest, she now lives in picturesque Vermont, with her husband and two daughters. Also renting space in their home is an over-hyper Beagle/Jack Russell, Buttercup and a Highland Westie/Mini Schnauzer, JiLL and her brother, Racicot.

When she isn’t writing one of the many stories planned for release, you’ll find her sitting courtside during either daughter’s basketball games.

Find out more:

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About the Dover:

NYT and USA Today Bestselling author, L.P. Dover, is a southern belle residing in North Carolina along with her husband and two beautiful girls. Before she even began her literary journey she worked in Periodontics enjoying the wonderment of dental surgeries. Not only does she love to write, but she loves to play tennis, go on mountain hikes, white water rafting, and you can’t forget the passion for singing. Her two number one fans expect a concert each and every night before bedtime and those songs usually consist of Christmas carols. Aside from being a wife and mother, L.P. Dover has written over nine novels including her Forever Fae series, the Second Chances series, and her standalone novel, Love, Lies, and Deception. Her favorite genre to read is romantic suspense and she also loves writing it. However, if she had to choose a setting to live in it would have to be with her faeries in the Land of the Fae.

Find out more:

#NewRelease: Sex, Love, and Rock n’ Roll, by Scott MacKenzie

Over the years you’ve known me to share books from Karina Halle. You may recall my reviews for Darkhouse and The Devil’s Metal. But I’m not here to share on of her books today. I’m here for something a bit more of a surprise, but a good surprise.

The book I want you all to know about today is by Scott MacKenzie, Karina’s husband. And it sounds like a great one. Be sure to check this one out. I’m also going to link to a future release co-written by both Scott and Karina. That’s one I’m going to be looking forward to as well. Find out about both below!

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A STANDALONE FULL-LENGTH EROTIC ROMANCE – NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART

Enigmatic, wealthy and wickedly handsome, Jack Willow is more than just a talented musician.
He’s a man with a sordid past.
And a man of many dark secrets.
When he meets a seemingly innocent girl by the name of Leah, he pulls her into a secret sexual world, a world that will both test their limits and bring them together.
But Leah is not who she seems.
Neither is Jack.

TRIGGER WARNING: This book contains the POV of a very abrasive male protagonist. There are RAW and explicit scenes of sexual nature, including dubious consent, menage, BDSM-style situations, coarse language, etc and this book is NOT intended for sensitive readers. It gets DARK, it gets weird. There is a lot of crazy sexual scenes. As dark and twisted as this tale is though, it still is a love story. IF you can handle all of that, read on!

Special Note: The first half of this book was previously published as “House of Sin” by pen name Vince Stark. It has since been re-edited and is now combined with the second half to make Sex, Love and Rock n’ Roll.

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If you’d like a copy of the book, you can find it on…
Amazon

And if you’d like more from Scott, here’s a link to pre-order ROCKED UP, co-written with Karina Halle

Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Smashwords

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About the Author:

Born in Montreal and raised in rural Ontario, Scott Mackenzie has worn many different hats in his life, from bartending to working as a heavy duty mechanic for the railway, to owning and operating a take-out restaurant. He finally settled down out West, where he lives on an island with his author wife and their dog. Scott can be found exploring the gulf islands on his sailboat, playing and recording music in his studio, or on a hike, thinking about his next book.

For out more:

#Review: The Poet’s Dog, by Patricia MacLachlan

the-poets-dogTitle: The Poet’s Dog
Author: Patricia MacLachlan

Rating: 5/5 stars

From Newbery Medal winner Patricia MacLachlan comes a poignant story about two children, a poet, and a dog and how they help one another survive loss and recapture love. “Just what I needed,” raves Brightly.com. “It’s a heart-warming story of loss and love that filled me with hope for a better future and renewed my belief in good.”

Teddy is a gifted dog. Raised in a cabin by a poet named Sylvan, he grew up listening to sonnets read aloud and the comforting clicking of a keyboard. Although Teddy understands words, Sylvan always told him there are only two kinds of people in the world who can hear Teddy speak: poets and children.

Then one day Teddy learns that Sylvan was right. When Teddy finds Nickel and Flora trapped in a snowstorm, he tells them that he will bring them home—and they understand him. The children are afraid of the howling wind, but not of Teddy’s words. They follow him to a cabin in the woods, where the dog used to live with Sylvan . . . only now his owner is gone.

As they hole up in the cabin for shelter, Teddy is flooded with memories of Sylvan. What will Teddy do when his new friends go home? Can they help one another find what they have lost?” (description from Goodreads)

fancy lineresizeI haven’t read a book by Maclachlan in many years. I recall reading Sarah, Plain and Tall early on in school. I remember enjoying it, but not much other than that. The Poet’s Dog was a great way to rediscover this author. I feel that reading it as an adult maybe even have given me a better appreciation for the story.

What I enjoyed most about this book was that it’s told from a dog’s perspective. Specifically a dog’s first person point of view. I don’t think it’d have been as effective any other way. That includes if it were in the third person. There’s was a certain charm and insight given because of how this book was written.

This was also a very emotional book, especially for one written with a young audience in mind. Despite this, I feel that most children can handle the happy and sad tones within the pages. Some readers, of any age, maybe need a box of tissues, though. Despite it being a quick read, it packs a punch. Be ready for that. This is definitely not a book to pass up.

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You can grab a copy of this book from:

Amazon | Kobo | B&N | iBooks

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About the Author:

Patricia MacLachlan was born on the prairie, and to this day carries a small bag of prairie dirt with her wherever she goes to remind her of what she knew first. She is the author of many well-loved novels and picture books, including Sarah, Plain and Tall, winner of the Newbery Medal; its sequels, Skylark and Caleb’s Story; and Three Names, illustrated by Mike Wimmer. She lives in western Massachusetts.

Find out more:

Best Read of 2016: Reader Edition!

2016 Best Read: From the Readers

You’ve seen two best of 2016 lists from me, already. There’s the overall best of and the best short stories I’ve read lists. Today I have something a little different.

I polled my readers. Turns out I have a total of THREE readers. Woot! Ok, ok. There are probably many more of you out there seeing this. But the following is a list filled with the top 5 books of 2016 as sent in from a total of three readers who answered my recent poll. Thank you, you three! Maybe next year I can get more input and help share even more favorite books with more people who see these posts. For now, there’s 15 books (well, a few more since a few listed full series. Even better!)

If you didn’t get a chance to add your favorites to the poll, please comment on this post with your top picks from 2016. Always feel free to share what you’re reading here.

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Best Read in 2016: Short Stories

2016 Best Read

The other day I posted by best read list of 2016. (Click here if you missed it.) As I mentioned in that post, I would be posting a separate list of the short stories that stuck in my reading for 2016. That’s what today’s post is all about.

I gave you all the stats last time. To repeat the short story stats, I read 113 of them and they totaled 2653 pages. And those I read in audio totaled just under 22 hours of listening.

Again, I don’t like to “rank” my favorite stories. So this is list isn’t in any order. I just plucked them off my spreadsheet and the order is whatever it is. I also want to make clear that narrowing down 113 stories isn’t easy. They’re not all 5 star reads. Some 4 stars can be better than 5 stars when you recall them. Ratings aren’t always the definitive stat to go by.

One more thing: They’re not all short stories. Oops. And not oops. Because there’s no law about the length of a short story, novella, novel, etc, some stories in this list are actually novellas. Some may be marketed as a novella but feel more like a short story. I didn’t get picky. They’re just not novels. That’s fairly easy to figure out compared to story/novella. And for those authors out there reading this, this could be a good list for you to pay attention to if you have a story in need of reviews. In 2017 I’m only accepting short story/novella requests, as my review policy says right now. Just putting that out there. And for everyone else, check some of these out. Read them. Share them with others. And share your favorite stories of 2016 in the comments. I also have a poll for favorite reads of 2016 linked below. Please participate!

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The Short Fiction

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CLICK HERE FOR THE POLL

BEST READ IN 2016

2016 Best Read

2016 was an interesting year in many ways. We lost many great authors, actors, and musicians (many of which can be considered poets). Here in the US, and because of the global nature of the internet, around the world, we saw a big change politically. Both in positive and negative ways. Along with all this we’re still seeing natural and human-created disaster all over the news.

While this isn’t erased once the calendar flipped to 2017, we can at least hope to keep all of this in mind when moving into the new year. Maybe to improve on what we don’t want to see again. Maybe to honor those who won’t be there in the coming years. As long as we’re taking a step forward, and don’t continue moving backward, maybe we’ll be doing something right.

And as you know, this is a book blog. And the books are coming! It may not have felt like a great year overall, but for this reader, books helped. I’d like to share some of those books with you today.

I’ve put together a few “best of” lists from what I read in 2016. It consists of novels, non-fiction, kids books, graphic novels/comics, and some poetry. The length of the lists vary, depending on how much of each category I read. They’re not in a ranking order. I just made the lists by going chronologically in my spreadsheet. And, if you click each title, you’ll go to my review/rating on Goodreads. Some I’ve reviewed. Some I’ve just rated. The ones I reviewed, you’ll find here on the blog too if you want to search them.

If you’re wondering what short stories I enjoyed in 2016, you’ll have to wait for another day. That’s a list of over 100 stories and novellas. It’ll take a little more time to narrow those down, but look out for it this week.

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Fiction

  1. Skyscraping by Jensen Cordelia
  2. Ari by S.M. Boyce
  3. Focus on Me by Megan Erickson
  4. Shame on Him by Tara Sivec
  5. The Wives of Los Alamos by TaraShea Nesbit
  6. Crimson Shore by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child
  7. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
  8. One Week Girlfriend by Monica Murphy
  9. The Devil’s Reprise by Karina Halle
  10. The Unidentified Redhead by Alice Clayton
  11. In Every Way by Amy Sparling
  12. Roman Crazy by Alice Clayton & Nina Bocci
  13. The First Vagabond by S.M. Boyce
  14. Jed Had to Die by Tara Sivec
  15. Saving Red by Sonya Sones

 

Non-Fiction

  1. Doc by Dwight Gooden
  2. Weird Things Customers Say in Bookstores by Jen Campbell
  3. Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher
  4. Footnotes From the World’s Greatest Bookstores by Bob Eckstein
  5. Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham

 

Poetry

  1. The New Testament by Jericho Brown
  2. Unfinished Ink by Joanne Marlowe
  3. Krypton Nights by Bryan D. Dietrich
  4. No Matter the Wreckage by Sarah Kay
  5. Between Hurricanes by Jennifer Rane Hancock

 

Graphic Novels, Comics, and Manga

  1. Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
  2. Ms. Marvel (vol 3-5) by G. Willow Wilson
  3. Outcast (vol 1-3) by Robert Kirkman and Paul Azaceta
  4. Spider-Gwen (vol 0) by Jason Latour and Robbi Rodriguez
  5. Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man (vol 1-5)/Miles Morales: Ultimate Spider-Man (vol 1-2) by Brian Michael Bendis
  6. Deathnote series by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata
  7. Avengers vs. X-Men by Brian Michael Bendis
  8. Habibi by Craig Thompson
  9. Maus (I and II) by Art Spiegelman
  10. The Sculptor by Scott McCloud

 

Middle Grade and Children’s Books

  1. Demon Dentist by David Walliams
  2. Alexander series by Judith Viorst
  3. The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch
  4. Edward Gets Messy by Rita Meade
  5. The BFG by Roald Dahl

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Because I gave you my favorites from 2016, I’d like to hear about yours! I already tried to get some input recently, but only ONE person responded with some pics. Well, lets try this again. CLICK HERE or HERE or HERE. It’ll bring you to a poll. Give me up to 5 of your favorites books along with the authors. That’s it. I’ll put a post together in a week when the poll closes to share with everyone. It’ll be anonymous, so don’t worry about any embarrassing choices. No book shaming here.

Again CLICK HERE FOR THE POLL

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That’s out of the way, now for a few stats, since Goodreads counts books read as ANYTHING (novel, short story, 1 page, 1000 pages, doesn’t matter) and it’s not an accurate count. It tells me I read 236 books. Well, I didn’t. It was more like:

  • Novels
    • 31 books
    • 8234 pages
    • 99:43:02 hours listened to.
    • Average rating of 4.3/5 stars
  • Non-Fiction
    • 10 books
    • 1923 pages
    • 28:59:25 hours listened to.
    • Average rating of 4.4/5 stars
  • Short Stories
    • 113 stories
    • 2653 pages
    • 21:51:23 hours listened to.
    • Average rating of 3.6/5 stars
  • Poetry
    • 14 books
    • 839 pages
    • 0:22:10 hours listened to.
    • Average rating of 3.7/5 stars
  • Graphic Novels/Comics
    • 64 books/issues
    • 11717 pages
    • Average rating of 4.1/5 stars
  • Children’s Books
    • 17 books (I’ve already read about that many in this category in 2017, oops)
    • 1614 pages
    • 4:25:42 hours listened to.
    • Average rating of 4.1/5 stars
  • TOTAL
    • 136 books and 113 stories read.
    • 26980 pages read.

Themed Book Recommendations: Men who write M/M Romance

Themed Book Recommendations is back! Yes, there was a holiday reading edition, but that was the first in a long time and then I skipped a week. Let’s hope it sticks this time.

For this list, I’ve put together (with a HUGE help from Twitter friends, new and old) a list of male authors who write M/M books. Why did I create this recommendations list? Well, while men dominate the publishing world still (big shock), the romance world is heavily populated by women. It always has been (to my knowledge), and it’s a great thing. But at the same time, I noticed something in my search for more diverse books.

Most of the M/M (that’s male/male if you’re new here) books I’ve read, seen promoted through my regular channels, had on this blog…they’re all written by women authors. Straight (to my knowledge, but I don’t go around asking) women authors. I’ve enjoyed MANY of these books. I have nothing against any of these books or authors. I’m friends with many. But I got to thinking, what are the guys writing about in their M/M books? Why don’t I see as much of these books in my timeline from those authors making the bestsellers lists? Why have I only read a handful of them, and probably only the random short stories I find?

I’m here to help shed more light on male written M/M books, today. It’s all part of making my own reading more diverse, and hopefully you’ll add some to your TBR, as well. In the end we just want to read ALL THE BOOKS! And that includes books from everyone from every walk of life. I can’t wait to dive in, and I hope you’re ready too!

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Special thanks for many of the names on this list go out to: Con Riley, Megan Erickson, KJ Charles, (Twitter) Jenny from Reading the End, Amy Jo Cousins, Chelsea M. Cameron, Dirty Book Chick, and anyone else I left out.

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Find something you might want to read? I hope so. Want to see another set of recommendations focused on a theme? Let me know what that theme is, and if you can help with some recs for it, include them in the message.

Happy reading!