Review: Pixie Tamer, by @MeganPHaskell

Title: Pixie Tamer (Sanyare Chronicles #0.5) Author: Megan Haskel
Rating: 5/5 stars

“A Short Story Prequel to Sanyare: The Last Descendant

It’s Nuriel “Rie” Lhethannien’s twenty-fifth nameday. She should be celebrating her rise to maturity, not sweating in the training hall. But life isn’t fair, and humans aren’t equal to the elves, at least not in the High Court.

After losing a practice bout to the one man she wants to trust, Rie is thrown into the most challenging test of her life. Will the rewards outweigh the risks? (description from Goodreads)

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I bought a copy of book one of the Sanyare Chronicles thinking it looked like something I’d enjoy. When I got home, I discovered that there was this prequel, Pixie Tamer, and decided to read it first.

I’m glad I read this quick short story. It’s not very long, but it felt like a good introduction to the world I’ll soon dive into in The Last Descendant. In its few pages I got a feel for who Rie is. I also got a feel for the world in which she lives. It’s a world I now want to explore more. I also think the characters will be even more interesting as the series does on.

This prequel story is just a taste of what I’m sure will be a series worth reading. I can’t wait to read more.

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Want to grab a copy now? You can find it over on

Amazon

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About the Author:

Legend has it, I was born with a book in my hands. When I was a kid, my mom would ground me from reading in order to get me to do my chores. To this day, I can readily ignore the real world in favor of the imaginary one lurking between the pages of my current addiction. My dad — also an avid reader — introduced me to Tolkien in my late elementary years, and I never looked back. I love escaping to worlds where magic and monsters are real, especially stories with kick-butt heroines and dangerously attractive heroes.

Despite my voracious book appetite, I didn’t start creative writing until I was working as a number cruncher in a big accounting firm. With an hour plus commute by train every day, and a demanding left-brain occupation, I needed a mobile creative outlet. A pen and paper are about as mobile as it gets! As the pages began to fill, I quickly moved onto a tiny laptop, and a writer was born. Now I get to create my own fantasies!

I currently live in Southern California with my wonderfully supportive husband, two daughters, and a ridiculously energetic dog.

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#Review: Tell Me a Story, by @TamaraLush

Title: Tell Me a Story (The Story episode #1)
Author: Tamara Lush
Rating: 4/5 stars

A flirtatious reading of erotica blossoms into something deep and tender in the steamy Florida heat…

Tell Me a Story…

Emma, a free-spirited bookstore owner in Orlando, keeps her business afloat with innovative ideas. Her most popular evening event is Story Brothel, where customers can pay writers to read aloud to them in a story-time for two, complete with cocktails. Despite the name, the event is usually tame. But things take a steamy turn when a handsome, urbane businessman hires Emma for a session in a private cabana. Daringly, she shares with him a reading of her erotica. Soon both of them are feeling the effects … and Emma’s wondering what kind of lover is underneath his expensive suit.

Caleb may be a billionaire real estate mogul, but he’s never been captivated by a woman as he is by the lovely, quirky Emma. Her rockabilly vintage dresses make him long to strip them off and do very wicked things to her. And her refusal to share her personal life only makes him more curious.

Soon the couple are spending every available moment together. But Emma’s building is in danger of being razed out from under her bookstore … and worse, Caleb may be behind her problems. Can she trust him with her life as she does with her body? Or will the prickly walls built during her harsh past keep them apart? (description from Goodreads)

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Tell Me a Story is the first episode in a five part serial. It’s been awhile since I’ve wanted to read a serial novel, and I’m glad I did. This one’s only five installments, and each are a reasonable length. Both are a plus. Along with them all being released at the time I discovered them helped even more.

Like most serials, there wasn’t too much character development in the grand scheme of things here. This aides in my wanting to continue onto the next episodes. There was just enough to get into Emma’s head and start to enjoy her. On the other hand Caleb is still very mysterious and has most to reveal later on. I’m still on the fence about him, as I’m sure the reader should be.

As for the story itself, I’m even more intrigued after reading it than I was starting. The story brothel event at Emma’s bookstore was a fun idea. I really like how that’s worked into the story outside the bookstore, too. I also thought it was great that the author didn’t make the bookstore life out to be glamorous, as I’ve seen done elsewhere. Emma’s facing real-world problems as a business owner and there are big consequences. Lush was able to bring a lot out in episode one, even if a few elements may have hurt because of this. That’s what the rest of the serial is for, after all.

I’m looking forward to reading more about Emma and Caleb. I’m also crossing my fingers a certain other set of characters gets their own story in the future.

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If you’d like to read this installment of the serial, you can find it (at time of posting) on:

Kobo | AudibleRadish app

You can grab the complete 5-part serial novel on:

Amazon | Kobo | B&NiBooks

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About the Author:

Tamara Lush was born in California and raised in Vermont. She graduated from Emerson College in Boston with a degree in journalism. For her entire adult life, she’s worked as a reporter and is currently an award-winning correspondent in Florida with The Associated Press. She lives with her Italian husband and two bad dogs near the beach.

She was recently chosen as one of 24 writers for the Amtrak Residency program, and in 2017, she’ll be riding trains and writing romance novels.

Her most recent novel, a five-episode serial called TELL ME A STORY, has “an engaging voice, sexy heroes and heroines and a wry sense of humor,” according to New York Times bestselling author Beth Kery.

Tamara is a fan of vintage pulp fiction book covers, Sinatra-era jazz, 1980s fashion, tropical chill, kombucha, gin, tonic, beaches, iPhone photography, Art Deco, telenovelas, coloring books, street art, coconut anything, strong coffee and newspapers.

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Review: Broken Resolutions, by @oliviawrites

Title: Broken Resolutions (Lovestruck Librarians #1)
Author: Olivia Dade
Rating: 5/5 stars

“LOVE BETWEEN THE LINES

Romance has never had a happy ending for librarian Penny Callahan, who could write the book on cheating, heartbreaking liars. So she’s made a resolution: no men for the next twelve months. If she can just get through the library’s New Year’s Eve singles night, she can return home to her pajamas and a good book. But when she finds herself checking out a hot hunk with an irresistible smile, an evening in the stacks becomes a lot more tempting…

Reclusive author Jack Williamson never should have trusted his mother. Even though he’s trying to avoid being recognized, she guilts him into attending a dating meet-and-greet—where an adorable librarian makes him question his lonely lifestyle. Is this just a fleeting, flirty scene? Or could love be the next chapter for them both? (description from Goodreads)

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Broken Resolutions may be one of the best Twitter recommendations I’ve gotten in a long time. I asked the masses for romances with librarians, and got far more than I expected.

This novella has so much of what I look for in romances. A major surprise was the snow storm. I’ve somewhat recently realized that I really enjoy stories that take place during a storm because of how they tend to bring characters close together and force them to get to know each other. And they normally take place during the holidays, which brings out different aspects qualities in a character. A bonus for this book: Takes place on New Year’s Eve. I normally read Christmas stories. The other thing I enjoyed from this one and want to look for more in romances is that Penny is a librarian and it’s set in a library. This naturally grabs at my book-lover brain. There’s so much room for book references and feeling at home in a library. The author did a great job at writing this.

I really enjoyed the character’s Dade wrote into this book. This includes the secondary characters, not just the main ones. They were all great to read about, especially those with some more quirks than others.

Now that I’ve finished this book, I’m very curious where the rest of this series will go from here. With many first books in a series you can feel out who the next books will be about. Right now, I can only guess at two characters who could get a book. I like the mystery of who else might get their chance at a romance soon. I like that guessing game so much that I already bought the rest of the series. I think that’s a first for me, but I enjoyed Broken Resolutions that much.

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You can grab this story from:

Amazon | Kobo | B&N | iBooks

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About the Author:

While I was growing up, my mother kept a stack of books hidden in her closet. She told me I couldn’t read them. So, naturally, whenever she left me alone for any length of time, I took them out and flipped through them. Those books raised quite a few questions in my prepubescent brain. Namely: 1) Why were there so many pirates? 2) Where did all the throbbing come from? 3) What was a “manhood”? 4) And why did the hero and heroine seem overcome by images of waves and fireworks every few pages, especially after an episode of mysterious throbbing in the hero’s manhood?

Thirty or so years later, I have a few answers. 1) Because my mom apparently fancied pirates at that time. Now she hoards romances involving cowboys and babies. If a book cover features a shirtless man in a Stetson cradling an infant, her ovaries basically explode and her credit card emerges. I have a similar reaction to romances involving spinsters, governesses, and librarians. 2) His manhood. Also, her womanhood. 3) It’s his “hard length,” sometimes compared in terms of rigidity to iron. I prefer to use other names for it in my own writing. However, I am not picky when it comes to descriptions of iron-hard lengths. 4) Because explaining how an orgasm feels can prove difficult. Or maybe the couples all had sex on New Year’s Eve at Cancun.

During those thirty years, I accomplished a few things. I graduated from Wake Forest University and earned my M.A. in American History from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I worked at a variety of jobs that required me to bury my bawdiness and potty mouth under a demure exterior: costumed interpreter at Colonial Williamsburg, high school teacher, and librarian. But I always, always read romances. Funny, filthy, sweet–it didn’t matter. I loved them all.

Now I’m writing my own romances with the encouragement of my husband and daughter. I have my own stack of books in my closet that I’d rather my daughter not read, at least not for a few years. I can swear whenever I want, except around said daughter. And I get to spend all day writing about love and iron-hard lengths.

So thank you, Mom, for perving so hard on pirates during my childhood. I owe you.

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Review: Dark Flash, by @MariaHaskins

Title: Dark Flash
Author: Maria Haskins
Rating: 4/5 stars

“Eight stories of dark fantasy, science fiction, and horror. Featuring unicorns, pirates, a cat, a demon, magic, and glimpses of mythology (among other things) – there’s a pinch of everything in this collection of flash fiction! All eight stories originally appeared on R.B. Wood’s Word Count Podcast, and are now available as an ebook for the first time. (description from Goodreads)

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I’ve read some of Maria Haskins poetry and flash fiction in the past. because I’ve enjoyed it, I decided to give a collection of her flash fiction a read. I’m happy to have done so.

As with most flash fiction, it can be a hit and miss. Length is a major factor that shapes each story and what can be done within the limited word count. Haskins has more hits than misses, in my opinion. Not every story wowed me, but many did. She’s able to work a lot of “story” into each story, keep the pace fast without making them feel short, and come up with a variety of ideas that also work together nicely.

I’ll definitely continue to read Haskins’ work. Especially the flash fiction. Having finished Dark flash, I’m now also curious what Haskins can do with a longer form, whether it’s short stories or novels.

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You can grab this story from:

Amazon | SmashwordsKobo | B&N | iBooks

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About the Author:

self3Maria Haskins is a Swedish-Canadian writer and translator. She was born and grew up in Sweden, but since the early 1990s she lives just outside Vancouver on Canada’s west coast with a husband, two kids, and a very large black dog.

Her English language debut ‘Odin’s Eye’ – a collection of science fiction short-stories – was published in March, 2015. Her book ‘Cuts & Collected Poems 1989 – 2015’ was released on November 9, 2015, and includes both new poems written in English, and her own translations of her previously published Swedish poetry. She is currently writing fantasy and science fiction short stories. Two new short stories that will appear in an anthology in the Mind’s Eye Series, set to be published in 2016.

Find out more:

#Review: Project Snow, by @lafemmecherita

Title: Project Snow
Author: Cherita Smith
Rating: 4/5 stars

“Snow White meets genetic engineering in this captivating blend of science fiction and fairy tale that will hook you from the very first line.

Like most engineered kids, Amara can’t wait to turn sixteen. Sixteen means confirmation of immunity to the aging infection that plagues mankind. And confirmation means freedom, leaving behind the quarantine of the Tower where she’s lived all her life for a new life in the city — no filtration veils required.

But the queen has other plans. The queen is dying and needs a new heart. Daughter or not, Amara’s will do. (description from Goodreads)

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I enjoy this short story from Cherita Smith. I’ve been trying to read more fairy tale retellings, so it was only natural that this one worked well with my current reading mood.

I’ll be honest that I’m not very familiar with the “original” Snow White story. But it’s safe to say that readers shouldn’t expect a Disney movie from this story. It’s a bit dark, like may tales are. I’m glad the author kept the not-so-happy element in there.

With this being a short story, an author must sacrifice extensive world building in order for there to be room for the characters and plot. I feel that to a point that’s the case with this story. Smith set this in a world unlike our own, after a major event that changed the way the world lives and even looks. While I wasn’t really lost reading this story, I do feel like it could have benefited from having some more world building take place. it was intriguing and I wanted more. Maybe there’s more the author plans on doing with this world and readers will get it when that comes out. I’d for sure enjoy that.

While the characters weren’t very fleshed out, I think it worked just fine in this one. I was actually a bit surprised to be content not getting so deep into each of the major characters.

Overall, I enjoyed this story. I wanted a little bit more from it. But as I mentioned, maybe there’s more in store for us. I’d be more than happy to read more.

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You can grab this story from:

Amazon | Kobo | B&N

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About the Author:

Hello, you! I’m Cherita, a Los Angeles native who writes speculative fiction of all kinds: dystopian, science fiction, paranormal & dark fantasy for teens and adults.

Dark, lush & haunting prose, with a dash of creepy-thriller and a sprinkle of fairytale-myth — that’s my writing jam. If that sounds like your jam too, you should give my stories a read.

Once upon a time in the not-too-distant past, I also did fundraising and online marketing for nonprofit organizations including a domestic violence shelter, the politically progressive Brave New Films, and Film Independent, the arts organization behind the Los Angeles Film Festival and the Spirit Awards. I did a lot of writing for all of them too, only none of it was speculative and it was (mostly) non-fiction.

Find out more:

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

Viewing RoomTitle: Viewing Room (Society X #2)
Author: Heidi McLaughlin & L.P. Dover
Rating: 4/5 stars

**STANDALONE NOVEL by New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors, Heidi McLaughlin & L.P. Dover.**

Viewing Room Rules:
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.

Whatever your desire.

Whatever your fantasy.

The Viewing Room will make it happen.

For Kennedy Vaughn, it’s an escape.

For Hunter Miles, entering the Viewing Room means he’s been selected.

What you witness in the viewing room will have you asking for more . . . (description from Goodreads)

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A few months back, I read McLaughlin and Dover’s Dark Room. It’s the first book in their Society X series and was an enjoyable read. Viewing Room is the second in the standalone series and another great book.

While I did enjoy both books, there were different things to enjoy about them. Viewing Room was less focused on the club Society X, and instead had more of a private investigation feel, due to the main character’s professions. This helped add diversity to the series and I welcomed it more than if I were reading another similar book to Dark Room.

I also really enjoyed Hunter and Kennedy. They both have a deep past and strong personalities. This made reading from their points of view really work for me. Even side characters, while not seeing as much of some as I would have liked, added to the story.

I feel that overall the story was great and it was all entertaining. Though, near the end, the series of events were a little extreme compared to how the rest of the book was going. It was all well-written, and not totally out of left field, but at the same time almost too sensational for the tone set earlier on. On the other hand, this also helped set this book apart from the first in the series, while having Society X as the common thread.

It’ll be interesting to see where these two authors go from here with the series. The possibilities are almost endless when a place like Society X and its diverse clientele are involved.

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You can grab this book from:

Amazon | Smashwords | Kobo | B&N | iBooks

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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:

#Review: 180 Day, by @TE_Ridener

180-daysTitle: 180 Days (Prairie Town #1)
Author: T.E. Ridener
Rating: 5/5 stars

“Lydia McIntosh left her old life behind when she said goodbye to Prairie Town, North Carolina and started over halfway across the country with her beloved Gran; away from her family, away from everyone who knew the person she once was, and from the identity she never quite wanted in the first place. When her grandmother passes away, she returns home and while she only intends to stay for the funeral, her grandmother has other plans, from the grave. Her will states that Lydia must remain in Prairie Town for six months in order to give her family and her old town a chance to get to know the new her, the real her.

Lydia has had years to adjust to long hair, summer dresses, and nail polish, but she understands her family will need time to get reacquainted with a daughter they’ve never known and a sister they’ve missed terribly. Anticipating the worst, as she always has, Lydia’s feelings about her old town begin to change when she meets her brother’s best friend, Callum. Callum is kind and more accepting than she could have ever imagined and she’s falling for him.

When her 180 days are over, will she be able to say goodbye to the family she’s missed so much? Will she survive her mother’s endless intolerance? Can she really leave the man who acknowledges her past and still wants her?

A NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This is a story about a transgender girl and her journey to acceptance and love when she returns to her hometown. Within the pages of this book you will be introduced to characters who color outside the lines and that’s just how they like it. I implore you to give them a chance because we are all beautiful and unique in our own ways, and we all deserve love and happiness.” (description from Goodreads)

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I’m happy that this book wound up being my first romance with a transgender lead character in it. Through reading it, I was able to diversify my reading even more. And it’s not just a box for me to check off. It was a way to expand my understanding and knowledge of the real world where such a variety of people live. Along with that, I was able to discover a series that might make it on my favorites list as I read more of the Prairie Town books.

There was so much in this book that I loved. I could go on and on about the characters and the depth the author gave to them. Ridener was even able to make me enjoy a book with more than two POVs. And I think that was a major plus for helping the book work. As a reader I was able to see into the minds of a variety of characters, and not just the two romantic leads.

And this book was more than just a romance, though it was in there and worth the read for it alone. It’s a coming of age story. It’s a novel about family and acceptance within a family, a community, and within oneself. There are many different levels in 180 Days and I’d rather not pick the book apart. I think it’s better to just know that this book was a great read and worth giving a chance! It also has me eyeing the rest of the books in the series already, and I’ve only just finished it this morning. I can’t wait to visit Prairie Town again soon.

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You can grab a copy of this book from

Amazon | Kobo | B&N

And since I listened to this on audio, and enjoyed it in that format, here’s the link for:

Audible

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About the Author:

T.E. Ridener, better known as Tonya to her close friends and family, was born in a small town in Kentucky but be not fooled; she has huge dreams and chases them every day. With a love for the written word and the imagination to back it up, Tonya spends her days writing, playing on Photoshop, and getting into the usual shenanigans of an author.

She recently started a new series that features transgender characters. Two books have already been released (180 Days, 90 Days), and she *hopes* to release The Next Thirty Days soon. Her other titles include The Kadenburg Shifters SeriesThe Blood Betrayal SeriesThe Descendants Series, and Chartreuse.

When she’s not writing, she’s watching her favorite TV shows (Teen WolfThe OriginalsGame of ThronesSense8, Penny Dreadful, Shadowhunters), and lots of movies.

Find out more: