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aug 23, 8:02 am

What are you planning to read?

Redigerat: sep 30, 1:37 pm

Carol's September Reads
📕 - ★
📕Things We Do In The Dark - Jennifer Hiller - 5★(Friend)
📕The Eye of God - James Rollins - 3★ (Group Read) (2)
📕The Loner - Riley Hart - 5★
📕Archer's Lost Onesie - Della Caine - 4★
📕The Secret Plan- Cara Dee - 5★
📕Apex Predator - Cara Dee - 5★
📕Prowl, the Game series - Cara Dee - 5★
📕Beautiful & Terrible Things - Riley Hart - 4.5★
📕Beautiful Chaos - Riley Hart - 4★
📕The Shutout - Dianna Roman - 3★
📕Caged In - Luna David - 5★
📕His Missing Pieces - M A Innes - 4★
📕A Rulebook for Restless Rogues - Jess Everlee - 5★
📕Dressed in Desire - Quinn Ward - 4.5★
📕Understanding Desire - Quinn Ward- 3★
📕Silent Strength - M.A. Innes - 4.5★
📕Quiet Strength - M.A. Innes - 4.5★
📕Just Say When - Aimee Nicole Walker - 5★
📕Invisible Strings - Aimee Nicole Walker - 5★
📕Eli - Shaw Montgomery - 4★
📕Casey - Shaw Montgomery - 4.5★
📕Spencer- Shaw Montgomery - 4.5★
📕Ricochet -Reese Knightly - 4.5★
📕Sin Deep - Jodi Payne -5★
📕For Real - Alexis Hall - 2.5★
📕Bound To You - Shaw Montgomery - 5★
📕Bound With You - Shaw Montgomery - 5★
📕Let Me In - Luna David - 4★
📕Trust in Me - Luna David - 5★
📕Flawed Perfection - M.A. Innes - 4★
📕Got Me Hoping - Casey Cox - 4★
📕Locked in Silence - Sloane Kennedy 4.5 ★ (30)
📕Windfall - Wendy Corsi Staub - 5★
📕A Limited Run- Karen McQuestion - 5★
📕The Burning Boy - Nicola White - 4★
📕The Haunting of Winchester Mansion - Alexandria Clarke - 4.5★
📕The Carlswick Affair - SL Beaumont - 4★
📕The Haunting in Barry's Lodge - Annie Walters - 4.5★
📕Wicked Lovely - Melissa Marr - 3★
📕The Winter Rose - Jennifer Donnelly - 2★
📕The Bride and the Beast -Teresa Medeiros - 3★
📕The Handyman Method - Craig Davidson - 5★
📕Daisy Darker - Alice Feeney - 4.5★
📕Rock Paper Scissors - Alice Feeney - 5★
📕His & Hers - Alice Feeney - 5★ (13)

sep 1, 8:05 am

Archer's Lost Onesie - Della Caine
Found By Daddy Series Book 3
Genera: Daddy & Little/Age Gap/M/M Romance
I didn’t need a daddy… except that I did. Not having a daddy wasn’t going to stop me from being little. Sure, it wasn’t the same when you were by yourself, but after three daddies in a row thinking being a caretaker meant micromanaging my entire existence both in and out of little space, I was done. And besides, I wasn’t completely alone. I had Bear, my dog, and Cat, my stuffy, by my side. When I won a custom onesie from a giveaway during Chained's "little" craft day, I couldn’t believe my luck. I’d been wanting one for so long and couldn’t justify the expense. Now I didn’t have to. Only, when I went to pick it up, my onesie wasn’t in the bag—a "World’s Most Bestest Daddy Ever" shirt in its place. If only the bag came with the daddy, too.

As with all the Daddy/little stories this one is just plain, sweet....and fairly short. I really like the "Daddy/little" books, no matter what their length. They are a change from the sometimes, tangled relationships that some of the characters go through in in other romance books, rather they are M/M or M/F. These characters just meet and fulfill a need in one another, usually without the hassle or the turmoil. I love almost all of Della Cain's books and the universe she has created for these folks that want something a bit different in the lifestyle.

sep 1, 10:04 am

Eli - Shaw Montgomery
Leashes and Lace Series Book #2
Genera: M/M Romance/Power Exchange/BDSM
Eli knows who he is, and he’s tired of hiding it. Exhausted and at the end of his rope, Eli’s not just in the closet when it comes to his family, he’s so far in he’s starting to lose himself. When Elijah, the straight, boring businessman to his family, and Eli, the blogger and lingerie model to everyone else, start to clash, Eli begins to realize how much it’s affecting every part of his life…especially with Roman, the fiery photographer that drives Eli crazy. Roman’s tired of insanity and drama queens, even sexy ones who make his pulse race. A bad breakup left Roman broke and skeptical of getting involved again, especially with a brat who feeds off drama. With his bank account and patience drained, Roman feels cornered and at his limit. Leashes and Lace was supposed to be a fresh start for the photographer, but with Eli showing up at every turn, he’s not sure if he’s found a new career path or made the worst decision of his life. When killing each other isn’t an option, there’s only one way to release all the passion that flares between them. ?

OMG...Eli! I wanted to tie him to the nearest tree and throw things at him! Most of the people he worked with would have helped me. We don't want to hurt him...just make him shut-up. I really like this series, but I found Eli's behavior to be more than annoying. Roman, the new photographer, took his actions much better than most people would have...gay or straight. To make it even more confusing, Eli's hatred made no sense whatsoever. Roman is a Dom with a capital D... maybe that was why he stuck with bratty Eli. In hindsight, I did feel compassion for Eli in equal measures as I wanted to...well not kill him...but just make him be quiet long enough to see what he can have with Roman. Eli's mother was beyond impossible.... but instead of standing up to her...Eli hid deeper in his closet, closed and locked the door...turned out the light and allowed her to continue to set up dates with every available woman she knew. So much for Eli and on to Roman. Roman just got out of a relationship that ended in a really bad way. His ex- took almost all his money and skipped town. He didn't want or need another brat in his life, but he ended up working with the biggest brat he has ever met...and finds to his amazement that he more than likes him! If you read the story, just stay patient and you will end up admiring Roman and actually liking Eli...the over-the-top drama queen. Go figure.

sep 1, 2:01 pm

Things We Do in The Dark - Jennifer Hiller - (Canada)
Narrator: Carla Vega
Genera: Psychological Thriller/Serial Killer Mystery
When Paris Peralta is arrested in her own bathroom—covered in blood, holding a straight razor, her celebrity husband dead in the bathtub behind her—she knows she'll be charged with murder. But as bad as this looks, it's not what worries her the most. With the unwanted media attention now surrounding her, it's only a matter of time before someone from her long-hidden past recognizes her and destroys the new life she's worked so hard to build, along with any chance of a future. Twenty-five years earlier, Ruby Reyes, known as the Ice Queen, was convicted of a similar murder in a trial that riveted Canada in the early nineties. Reyes knows who Paris really is, and when she's unexpectedly released from prison, she threatens to expose all of Paris's secrets. Left with no other choice, Paris must finally confront the dark past she escaped, once and for all. Because the only thing worse than a murder charge are two murder charges.

Paris Peralta is found by the police in the bathroom with her husband’s dead body in the tub. To complicate matters she's holding the murder weapon in her hands. Of course, it looks bad, but you have to think that it wouldn't be this easy to find the killer. It gets more complicated when we learn that her husband, Jimmy, is 30 years older than her... Jimmy is famous as he was part of a show that everyone remembers and recently, he has come back from retirement to do a couple of comedy specials. No one has to tell Paris that the situation is NOT in ANYWAY good. Believe it or not...it indeed can get worse, especially if the police learn who she really is. Someone already knows and they are blackmailing her. Now we learn about Ruby Reyes...known as the Ice Queen, who is in prison in Canada. She is about to be released back into society after serving a sentence for murdering a man. She knows exactly who Paris is and wants money in exchange for silence. Now we come to Drew who is an investigative reporter in Toronto. His next true-crime podcast is about Ruby Reyes and her daughter. He wants the world to know what an awful person Ruby actually is. Drew feels guilty. He made mistakes and he is relieving the time when he let his friend down. Joey Reyes is the daughter of Ruby Reyes. She suffered in the hands of Ruby's verbal and physical abuse. The story is told from these three characters POV....Paris, Drew and Ruby...and by the end the reader will probably have no more idea about the truth than we did from the start. The audiobook was perfect for this novel and Carla Vega did a fantastic presentation. The timelines were a big problem for me but the narrator managed to keep them straight for me. I enjoyed guessing the twists and turns I really liked the story overall.

sep 1, 11:30 pm

Harlem Shuffle – Colson Whitehead
Book on CD performed by Dion Graham.

Ray Carney has worked hard for success. He has a furniture store where he sells reasonably priced sofas and dinettes. He’s carved out a decent life for himself, wife Elizabeth, and their children. But cash is tight and Carney does the occasional “favor” for old acquaintances, helping them sell a television or radio or even a ring or necklace. And then his cousin Freddie falls in with a gang who plan to rob a hotel, and suddenly Ray is having to use all his salesman’s charms and Harlem wits to keep himself and his family safe. Is he a crook? Or an upstanding businessman? Can he afford to be loyal to family ties? Or should he tip off the police? Can he trust anyone but himself?

Whitehead is a talented writer and I love the characters he creates. I was invested in Ray and Elizabeth. I worried for his safety several times, especially in the last third of the book. I could feel his fear and anxiety when things went wrong. I may not have agreed with all of Ray’s decisions, but I certainly came to understand why he acted as he did. He had his own code and he stuck to it.

The novel covers five years, from 1959 to 1964. Whitehead takes the reader right to those hot, steamy streets. I could hear the traffic, smell the garbage in the street, feel the sticky heat of a humid summer. I could feel the tension of race riots, see the orange glow of fires burning a few scant blocks away, and smell the smoke.

Dion Graham does a marvelous job of voicing the audiobook. He really brings these characters to life!

sep 2, 12:19 pm

Windfall - Wendy Corsi Staub - (Nevada)
Genera: Mystery & Suspense
It was the girls’ weekend they’d never forget.
J.J., Molly, and Leila had once been inseparable, but it’s been a long time since college, and life—not to mention distance—have disrupted the former roommates’ friendship. When the three reunite for a birthday weekend in Las Vegas, the lottery ticket they buy on a whim has the winning numbers—giving them a billion-dollar windfall. Shell-shocked, they turn to Shea Daniels, a “sudden wealth manager,” who promises to guide them through the pitfalls of having more money than they’d ever imagined.

It was the girls’ weekend they’d live to regret.
The trio travels to a secluded California mansion, where Shea and her staff cater to their every whim, promising to teach them to navigate their newfound wealthy lifestyles with ease. The house is luxurious beyond their wildest dreams—and purportedly cursed, the last place a missing movie star was seen alive. Their weekend turns to terror when they discover they are trapped—roads blocked and communication disrupted by the wildfires raging around them. And when history repeats itself and one of them disappears—the one who’s holding the billion-dollar ticket—the others must face the fact that either their friend has betrayed them…or a predator is lurking.

It's a story about three friends winning a billion-dollar lottery. Maybe I can convince these ladies that I'm a long -lost friend:) Leila, Molly, and JJ, were once the best of friends. They were all the same age, and all born in the month of September. They haven’t seen much of each other since college, but they decide it’s been long enough and make plans to celebrate their 40th Birthdays together in Las Vegas. The three friends buy a lottery ticket carefully picking numbers that mean things to each of them. Lightning strikes and their winning numbers are pulled and WOW...they have won a BILLION dollars. They then make a decision to contact a wealth management agency. The Los Angeles agency has the cute name... "Windfall". "Windfall" is run by Shea Daniels who promises to make the transition easier for all of them. They meet Shea at her property in Los Angeles. "Windfall" is a beautiful place with a huge waterfront mansion and terrific views. However, the ladies hear that many people say the property is haunted by a famous actress who mysteriously disappeared, and no one knows what happened to her...and now it seems like it may just happen again. I have read this author's many other books and always found them more than engaging. This story about three old friends, an unexpected windfall, a haunted mansion was right up there with the rest of her books. I was impressed with how Ms. Staub juggled two very key questions at the heart of this story. How would a sudden windfall change your life, and how well do you really know your friends? These women are hiding huge secrets that have a significant impact once they are unveiled. I hope the trend of this book and her. many others continue for many more years.

sep 3, 9:41 am

Caged In - Luna David
Aces Wild Series Book #12
Genera: M/M Romance/BDSM/Daddy
The first day I walked into his office I felt an incredible longing in my soul. The moment we touched, I was breathless, a deep ache running straight through my heart. I had a feeling I wasn’t alone, but he was my boss, and damn the man for being the utmost professional. Nearly four years have passed since that day. Four years of seeing his boys, of knowing he was a Daddy to each one of them, but never to me. Now with only days left until I walk away from my beloved job, knowing I won’t see him anymore pains me. Until a twist of fate—a chance encounter in Ace’s Wild—changes everything. Maybe now I can be the boy he’s always needed—finally permitted to be caged in by his ownership.

From the start I felt, in equal measure, the desire to either help Cam or to shake some sense into his hard head. Come on Cam...pining for Reed for FOUR YEARS! Reed is just the kind of guy that makes you just want to just leave everything, including your heart, in his hands. So, this was definitely a 5-star read for me. For those four years, Reed and Cam have circled around each other. Both falling for the other one, but Heave forbid either make a move... both seemingly oblivious to what the other wants. Cam knows Reed is a Daddy Dom after hearing things about him from others at the club, and finally after looking it up on the internet, he finds he more than wants Reed. The problem is that Reed has a rule that he never crosses..."Don’t date the employees"....EVER! Cam thinks he's by-passed that rule when he finds a new job. Now...Reed can finally stake his claim. Both of them are nervous.... especially when Reed finds out about Cam’s experience...or rather his lack of. Cam is a nervous wreck because, well... this IS Reed, and he thinks that he is soooooo way far out of his comfort zone. Communication has to be the key or they’re never going to get anywhere.... and Reed, being the perfect "Daddy" definitely wants to communicate. Of course, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t mess up or that they both don't have a lot to learn about each other, but Reed wants so much for Cam. He wants to love and care for him above all else. Cam...is shy to the point that he literally trips over his own feet when Reed is anywhere near...Reed just wants to follow along like a puppy. Caged In is just a great little book, but then, I wouldn't expect anything else from Luna David.

Redigerat: sep 4, 9:51 am

Ricochet - Reese Knightley -(Oregon/California)
Out for Justice Series Book #1
Narrator: Tristin James
Genera: M/M Romance/Thriller/Law Enforcement
Noah Bradford knows secrets that could get him killed, and staying in WITSEC seems like a good plan. What he didn't plan on is losing his heart to a man who is sworn to protect him. Battle scarred US Marshal Robert "Mac" Mackenzie has a job to do, and guaranteeing the safety of Noah Bradford is at the top of that list. Mac will do whatever it takes to keep Noah safe, even if it means walking away. Mac and Noah, brought together during extreme circumstances, have been separated by evil. It's been six years, give or take, and Noah is coming for vengeance against the men who killed his mother. He's on a collision course with Mac, who has no idea of the man Noah has become. Sparks fly and the heat sizzles when these two powerful men are reunited, but will they survive the passion the past created?

The story spans over many years. We first meet Noah when he was 17, trapped in a horrible and dangerous situation. He’s held captive by the man responsible for his mother’s death some years earlier. One night the place was raided by law-enforcement, and he was rescued by a marshal; Robert "Mac" Mackensie, who is attracted to the young boy...but realizes that he "is only a boy"...and puts him into witness protection. Now we fast forward seven years and Noah hasn’t only left WITSEC but also been recruited into a black op's organization; Phoenix. He has become one of the best "hunters" in the world and is assigned to the most dangerous and impossible of missions. He is also constantly looking for the men responsible for killing his mother. There is a lot of time jumping in this book. It does make sense for bringing the story bringing it forward...but kind of makes your head hurt. I felt like I missed a few things in the between the time moves. Important events that the listener was only told about instead of being shown...especially where the characters feelings were developed. These were strong feelings that enabled a seven-year separation between our heroes to keep those feelings alive. I just couldn’t feel it. It did allow Noah and Mac’s relationship to feel more on equal terms when they finally met again. Mac didn't even know where or what Noah was for most of the story. I think if they had met sooner as both being adults, it would have made for a feeling that it was a more equal a relationship on both their parts. The age difference that was present in the past would have no longer seemed such a big issue to Mac. I was invested in Noah and his fate early into the story and fascinated by the character of Mac. I have to admit to being thoroughly entertained by their story. The ending was so warm and so different from the rest of the book, and I LOVED IT. The narrative by Tristan James was nothing short of brilliant. This book is definitely worth listening to just for him alone.

sep 4, 12:50 pm

Bones: An Alex Delaware Novel
Jonathan Kellerman
4/5 stars
When several murdered prostitutes and a young pianist are found in L.A.'s Bird Marsh preserve, Detective Milo Sturgis contacts his friend and colleague - psychologist Alex Delaware to help him on the case.

sep 4, 1:51 pm

Miss Spitfire: Reaching Helen Keller / Sarah Miller
3.5 stars

This is a fictional account of a young Annie Sullivan (20-years old) who shows up to teach deaf and blind Helen Keller in the late 1800s. It is told from Annie’s point of view, as she tries to get through to a stubborn, tantrum-filled, overindulged 6-year old who cannot see nor hear.

This is fairly short and ends only after about a month of Annie living with the Kellers, just after the well-known breakthrough of spelling water on Helen’s hand to try to get her to understand. Assuming it stayed fairly accurate to true life, the parents and family of Helen sure didn’t help, as they just gave in her tantrums, feeling badly because she was unable to understand why they might deny her what she wanted. It’s short (meant as YA, I think), but it has definitely made me want to read more, probably nonfiction. I liked that there was a broad continuation at the end of the book that quickly explained more of Helen and Annie’s lives together. Because Annie did stay with Helen (though she also got married) for the rest of her (Annie’s) life.

sep 4, 8:43 pm

Wicked Lovely - Melissa Marr
Wicked Lovely Series Book #1
Genea: Fairy Tale -like Fantasy/YA
ule #3: Don't stare at invisible faeries. Aislinn has always seen faeries. Powerful and dangerous, they walk hidden in mortal world. Aislinn fears their cruelty—especially if they learn of her Sight—and wishes she were as blind to their presence as other teens.

Rule #2: Don't speak to invisible faeries. Now faeries are stalking her. One of them, Keenan, who is equal parts terrifying and alluring, is trying to talk to her, asking questions Aislinn is afraid to answer.

Rule #1: Don't ever attract their attention. But it's too late. Keenan is the Summer King who has sought his queen for nine centuries. Without her, summer itself will perish. He is determined that Aislinn will become the Summer Queen at any cost—regardless of her plans or desires.

Suddenly none of the rules that have kept Aislinn safe are working anymore, and everything is on the line: her freedom, her best friend Seth, her life—everything.

This really isn't what I would generally choose to read...but it fit a challenge category so.... It's a steamy fairy type of story that reads like a girl’s torrid fantasy and is might be guaranteed to produce some sighs and swoons if it's your type of story. Aislinn has spent her life terrified of the faeries (“fey”) all around her, invisible to other humans. They smack and trip each other, leer and wound...and to remain safe, she can’t let them know she sees. Her only safe space is inside the funky train-car home of her sexy friend Seth. The fey can’t enter because steel hurts them...or is that just something that somebody made up? The old rules are changing. Two fairies stalk Aislinn, paying unprecedented and disturbing personal attention to her. Readers will know early on that Aislinn’s destined to become a fairy monarch and rule as "Summer Queen" beside Keenan, the "Summer King", who some may find obnoxious and others just... dreamy. The authors consistently calling the situation a “game” doesn’t match the dire possibilities of what could happen if Aislinn doesn't go along with all this...such as the earth freezing if she doesn't take her place as "Summer Queen". Aislinn doesn't want any part of it. She just wants to live a normal life, attend college, buy a cell phone and get a tattoo. Noble ambitions! Meanwhile, it’s Keenan’s job to persuade Aislinn by flirting and wooing her... but that also has dire consequences, as it seems that his old love, who is currently the holder of winter’s chill... might die if he’s successful. As I said...it's not my "cuppa-tea" so I 'm not going to be too critical. I thought the story a bit hard to follow...but that may have just been me...and it went on a bit too long. Those folks that are into adult fairy tales will probably find it to be very enjoyable.

sep 4, 10:11 pm

John Hughes: A Life in Film / Kirk Honeycutt
3.5 stars

The book looks more at John Hughes’ movies (with a longer focus on the most popular ones in the 80s and 90s) than at his life, but there are bits and pieces of his life thrown in. For those who don’t know he either directed, produced, and/or screenwrote “The Breakfast Club”, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”, “Pretty in Pink”, “Home Alone”, among many other movies of the time.

It’s about the size of a coffee table book, and there are lots of nice photos included, mostly of the movies being discussed, but of course also of John Hughes himself, only a few with his wife and kids, though he was apparently a big family man.

I was a teenager in the 80s, so the first half or so of the book was more interesting to me, as that was the focus on the 80s teen movies. It was interesting to read about his relationships with the actors and how he made the films. He got along very well with the younger actors, but he was not great at communications with other producers, directors, etc, who he had working on his films (firing many via a third party with no explanation!). He had a particularly close relationship with John Candy, so that was interesting to read about. (Movies Hughes did that starred John Candy included “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles”, “Uncle Buck”, “The Great Outdoors”.)

sep 5, 7:17 am

The Haunting of Winchester Mansion - Alexandria Clarke - (Canada)
The Haunting of Winchester Mansion trilogy Book #2
Genera: Paranormal/Mystery/Thriller
Bailey and Bodhi Taylor are running out of time. They have one week to catch a killer and help the ghosts of his victims cross over to the next life. But when the murderer begins stalking the struggling couple, Bailey and Bodhi have to rely on more than their wits to stay alive. Can they assist the dead and outrun the living, or will they too spend eternity haunting Winchester Mansion?

I, the "Ghost Story Junkie", found this to be a very satisfying ghost story. However, I didn't realize that it was book #2 of a trilogy; but by the time I did I was too immersed in the tale to stop and hunt down the first book...but I intend to read all three of The Haunting of Winchester Mansion books. The story is nicely built, but unfortunately, I soon found out that it's not only the second book but that this story is built on the book before it, and of course that means that book #3 is built on this one. (sigh). If you are a fan of murder mysteries, crime stories, sleuthing and of course, those goose-bump raising paranormal offerings all wrapped up in a trio of books, you'll want to grab this wonderfully haunting threesome that tells the story of The Haunting of Winchester Mansion...but be sure to do so IN ORDER.

Redigerat: sep 5, 7:55 am

Book three of the Emperor Series The Field of Swords by Conn Iggulden

sep 5, 9:57 am

The Cat Who Saved Books– Sōsuke Natsukawa
Digital audiobook narrated by Kevin Shen

This is a modern fairy tale and coming-of-age story that explores the long-lasting effects books can have on us.

Rintaro Natsuki is a bookish high school student who is still grieving his grandfather’s passing and dreading the required closing of his grandfather’s bookshop. The shop has been Rintaro’s refuge for so long he can hardly imagine leaving it, but he must. Entering the shop to begin the final sale before closing and moving away to live with an aunt he’s never met, Rintaro is startled to hear a voice. It is a large tabby cat, who introduces himself as Tiger., and who demands Rintaro’s help to rescue books. And thus, the adventure begins.

I really enjoyed this fantasy read. Rintaro is a great character, somewhat lost and needing to find his path on life’s journey, he is a person any reader can relate to. As Tiger leads him on their adventures in the mazes, Rintaro finds his inner strength; he shows loyalty and courage, inventiveness and determination. The final task is one he must do alone, and he finds the reserves of courage that he needs to accomplish that task. He also finds peace, in recognizing that he need not be alone, for there are others who care for him and for whom he cares.

Of course, set in a bookshop, the fable is full of literary references, which I greatly enjoyed.

Keven Shen does a fine job of voicing the audiobook. I loved the voice he used for Tiger!

sep 5, 9:59 am

Fallen Women – Sandra Dallas

When wealthy New York socialite Beret Osmundsen learns that her estranged sister was murdered in a brothel, there is nothing for her to do but go to Denver and seek answers. The last she knew her sister Lillie was living with their aunt and uncle, Varina and Judge John Stanton. When she arrived in Denver, Beret meets Detective Mick McCauley, who is skeptical but eventually teams with Beret to solve the case.

Dallas is well-known for her historical fiction, focusing on women in the 19th and early 20th century. She’s tackled the Civil War, migration to the great plains, early settlers in Colorado, and the growth of the Church of Latter-Day Saints. Some of her works include a mystery, and this is one such.

What I like about her novels is the clear evidence of lots of research into the time and place. And I really appreciate how she brings these everyday women and the challenges they faced; I cannot imagine enduring the loneliness, grime, and very real dangers they faced.

Here she gives a very realistic view of 1880s Denver and the brothels that flourished there, including the different “classes” of sex workers, from those who plied their trade in back alleys and doorways to those, like Lillie, who worked in the higher-class establishments. Dallas also gives us a peek inside the upper-class salons and dinner parties at nouveau riche mansions.

There are several twists and turns and efforts at misdirection, but I guessed the culprit pretty early on. The actual mystery plot isn’t all that well executed, in my humble opinion, but the historical detail and some of the characters really kept my interest up.

sep 5, 10:54 am

>13 LibraryCin: I would read that!

sep 6, 9:08 am

Let Me In - Luna David - (Massachusetts)
The Boys Club Series Book #1
Narrator: Philip Alces
Genera: M/M Romance/Daddy/Boy
Forced to grow up too fast, Liam Cavanagh, carries the burdens of responsibilities that shouldn't be his, and it's slowly destroying him. The more he tries to control, the more out of control he feels. When he gets a hit on a personal ad he placed, he shrugs it off as impossible. With nearly 600 miles between him and Daddy Cash he thought the odds were stacked against them until Cash's current boy convinces him otherwise and persuades Liam to take on the role of Daddy's new boy. Saying 40-year-old entrepreneur Cash Moreau is having a bad week is an understatement. The man he's been with for years leaves him for a new job, his own company is in crisis, and to top it all off, a young stranger shows up on his doorstep with all his worldly possessions, claiming to be his new boy. Liam wants a Daddy to depend on, and Cash refuses to believe he's what's best for Liam. Despite their powerful connection, Cash finally pushes Liam away, and the beautiful boy who stole his heart disappears. Soon, Cash realizes what he's let slip through his fingers. Suddenly, Cash will move heaven and earth to find what he's lost.

I was impressed with how Tommy went about trying to find his "Daddy" Cash a new boy when he moved on with his life. When Liam answered Tommy's inquiry on the kink club's website...we met Liam. Liam hopes and wants, to find his ultimate Daddy who will take care of him. When the opportunity came, he was more than prepared and ready. He drove 600 miles and then he is knocking at his "Daddy's" door. Cash had loved his boy, Tommy... but neither he nor Tommy were "IN love". He took care of his boy, and his boy took care of him in return, but Tommy is now gone. A knock at Cash's door came at the wrong time.... but there stands Liam...a boy, who is calling him "Daddy". Cash thinks it's a joke and is so not amused and shuts the door in Liam's face. Liam is devastated and returns to his car and is gone. What follows is their journey apart and their journey together. The story swam in circles alternating between really awesome and "are you serious?" It took several, what I would consider, strange turns. When two people are so close and involved with each other I couldn't quite understand how Cash could not possibly see how Liam felt. It was illogical for me. For an experienced "Daddy" and a Dom he was almost clueless about how to handle the situation. Hang in there.... the story does get better again. Cash and Liam both had very engaging personalities that made the entire story one very emotional roller-coaster ride. I'd have to say that overall, it was a worthwhile read...but other than letting the reader know that it all started on a kink club app... there wasn't much kink. I usually give Luna David's stories 5 stars...she's good at this type of story... but this one...it just lacked something for me that I can't really put my finger on...but it was certainly 4-star worthy, and I am looking forward, to the next one in this series.

sep 6, 8:05 pm

His and Hers - Alice Feeney - (England)
Genera: Mystery & Suspense/Psychological Thriller
There are two sides to every story: yours and mine, ours and theirs, His & Hers. Which means someone is always lying. When a woman is murdered in Blackdown, a quintessentially British village, newsreader Anna Andrews is reluctant to cover the case. Detective Jack Harper is suspicious of her involvement, until he becomes a suspect in his own murder investigation. Someone isn’t telling the truth, and some secrets are worth killing to keep. News presenter and a police detective are brought together by murders in the British village where they both grew up.

It's difficult to say much about the content of this story with divulging a lot of spoilers...so I'll try to summarize the most important parts to let anyone reading this just how good this story is, hopefully without spoilers. I haven't read a lot by this author, but I intend to correct that in the future. She has woven a tale with surprises, plot twists and suspicious characters and events into nearly every one of her first-person chapters, and best of all they are all brief enough that the reader has time to think about what has happened and what more could be going to take place. The chapters are written in three alternating voices. The “Hers” voice is Anna Andrews, a wannabe anchor on a BBC news program whose lucky break comes when the body of one of her school friends is found brutally murdered in their hometown, a little spot called Blackdown. “His” voice is DCI Jack Harper, head of the Major Crime Team in Blackdown. Not many "major" crimes had happened there... until now. There is a third voice that is unnamed, but you clearly know that it is that of the killer. All of the voices tell a side of what they say is the truth, but you know that none of them are 100% forthcoming... which only makes sense, because you can't have reveals without there also being secrets. Everybody knows everybody and everything about everybody in a small town, so it’s not too surprising that Anna and Jack have a tragic past or that each of them has connections to all the victims and all the suspects, while not being totally free of suspicion themselves. On the way to trying to figure it all out, we encounter some mean high school girls, some teen lesbian action, some mutilated corpses, lots of nasty things of varying degrees happening to lots of people, and plenty of drinking and wisecracks. My favorite of these wisecracks was ;“Sadly, my sister has the same taste in wine as she does in men; too cheap, too young, and headache-inducing.” On that note I will just reiterate that Alice Feeney has loaded this story with a taut suspense plot, many twists and turns, and suspects galore.

sep 6, 9:47 pm

>18 JulieLill: Not sure if you grew up in the 80s, as well, but I feel like that is the age range the book would be most appealing to!

sep 6, 10:17 pm

The Big Book of Irony / Jon Winokur
2 stars

Nonfiction book that looks at irony. There is a little bit of explanation, but mostly quotations as examples.

I still don’t understand. By definition, it still sounds like sarcasm to me. Examples didn’t help. In addition, there are about 50,000 different types of irony, apparently. (OK, slight exaggeration.) A few examples were amusing (Billy Joel’s 11-year old daughter asking him not to sing – is this ironic?), but still didn’t help me understand. It started with explanations of the different types of irony, then a history of irony (all with examples). There were various examples of authors using irony, irony in pop culture (Alanis Morissette’s song, of course, mentioned more than once that those things aren’t ironic; The Simpsons, and other examples). At least it was fast to read. I liked that there were a number of Canadian examples. But I still don’t “get” it. Honestly, with all the various different types of irony, I’m probably more confused than ever.

sep 7, 8:29 am

The Handyman Method - Craig Davidson (aka Nick Cutter) & Andrew Sullivan
Genera: Horror
"When a young family moves into an unfinished development community, cracks begin to emerge in both their new residence and their lives, as a mysterious online DIY instructor delivers dark subliminal suggestions about how to handle any problem around the house"--

From the beginning of this book an ominous tone is set. From the moment the family steps foot into their new home, they notice that there are problems with it, made even worse by the fact that it was meant to represent a new start for them. They had high hopes on a house that was literally sinking into the ground, so it didn't take very long for the situation to take an even darker turn. The first project Trent takes on sees supernatural elements introduced and readers are propelled into a world of creepy symbols, strange occurrences, and characters who can’t be trusted. As is true of most works of horror, the story quickly slides into an unrecognizable place where characters and situations become more and more outrageous, more and more creepy, causing more and more self-doubt to the main character that it has decided to attach itself to...and in this case it's Trent. However, the question remains as to whether Trent is the one sliding into madness, or if it's the world around him...specially in the house, that is changing. Milo, the son, describes his family as having "weak spots" to begin with, and the house immediately takes that to heart and exploits that by dragging them each into a hellish world of frightening creatures that are seen in both the daytime and the nighttime. The family is allowed a few weeks of bliss once the initial scary creepiness settles down. But it is the eye of the storm, and the author shows that it is only numerous elements of foreshadowing that suggest this calm is very short-lived. Milo desperately attempts to please his father in their new home, but the house is not the only thing that is changing...Trent is changing along with the house. It seems that Milo can't ever quiet find common ground with his dad. I believe Milo's thoughts sums it up fairly well...“If he could just do that, strengthen his mind, it’d make his father happy. And when Dad was happy, the house was happy. And when the house was happy, they could all be happy.” Oh Yes...you diffidently want this house to be happy!

Redigerat: sep 7, 12:29 pm

Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex
Mary Roach
4/5 stars
I have read several books by Mary Roach who writes about non-fiction subjects and she is never boring. This book talks about all things surrounding the science of sex. Very interesting! Science

sep 8, 9:33 am

Casey - Shaw Montgomery
Leashes & Lace Series Book #4
Genera: M/M Romance
Casey knows what he wants; he’s just not always sure how to go about getting it. He knows he’ll never get Preston, the sexy man who runs Leashes & Lace, to notice him unless he’s ready to open up and step out of his comfort zone. But can he really tell the confident, sweet man that what he wants most of all is a master? Preston knows that what he wants might be startling for the shy man he’s starting to fall for, but after a year of dancing around their attraction to one another, he knows it’s time to take things to the next level. But will Preston’s wide-eyed accountant be able to accept that Preston isn’t as vanilla as he might appear? When shyness and secrets stand between two men who are perfect for one another, it might take friends near and far to give them the push they need.

I have never been disappointed with this series or with a Shaw Montgomery book. This is Casey's story. Casey was shy almost to the point of pain. Wonderful, Patient, Preston was a Dom /caretaker with the patience of a saint. From Casey's shyness I thought this one would be a slow-burn, or at least lots of angst.... which I hate, but it was perfectly paced. Along with sexy guys there is some very, very light BDSM, but a 100% sweet romance. Overall, just a fun, sweet and sexy story. This and the other books in this series can be read as a stand-alone but is much better if read in order. All of the characters are all back with the group in every book. One big happy family! I love not losing touch and seeing them interact...even bratty Eli:)

Spencer - Shaw Montgomery
Leashes and Lace Book #5
4.5 ★
Spencer’s content with his life. Sure, he might be a little confused and a bit awkward, but his life isn’t bad. He has a steady job and a wonderful friend in his goldfish Frank. He just has a feeling it could be better if he could clear up a few things, like why the lingerie at Leashes & Lace is so interesting and why dating isn’t really working out. Devon’s happy with his life. His work at the LGBT youth center and his growing friendship with the guys at Leashes & Lace keep him busy and his life fulfilling. But when he bumps into a familiar face at a photoshoot, he starts to see what he’s been missing—awkward perfection. The calm, professional UPS driver who stops by the center is nothing like the nervous, uncoordinated man who can’t seem to admit how curious he is about the lingerie…and Devin can’t wait to find out what else the sweet man is longing for. With Spencer’s fear standing in their way, it will take the love of well-meaning friends and a little timely misfortune to bring them together.

This one was the same sweet romance as the other four books, but it had more laughable situations than any of the others. If you have read any of the books before this one you have met Spencer, but not as a model...he was the clumsy, embarrassed, overly curious, UPS delivery guy. I loved Spencer's conversations with and asking advice from his "Best Friend". That might not seem unusual or funny in itself...but his best friend was Frank...oh, and Frank was a goldfish. Eli has always been frustrated with Spencer...but bratty Eli is frustrated with lots of things and makes no secret of it. When Eli learns that Devon...one of the friends of the Leashes and Lace group, is interested in Spencer, he tries to make friends and include him in their social gatherings, which doesn't turn out exactly as he wanted. Frank and Spencer end up having to stay in Devon's apartment while Spencer recovers from a head injury that occurred when he became nervous at a photoshoot when Eli asked if he's like to try on the lingerie...one of the ways that Eli was trying to be friends...and knocked himself out when he ran into the lights. All is well that ends well of course...but it was fun watching Devon and Spencer get there.

sep 8, 9:50 am

Uncommon Type: Some Stories – Tom Hanks
Digital audiobook narrated by the author.

The stories in this collection are connected in that each story features a typewriter in some way. Sometimes the reference to the typewriter is so minor you might miss it if you blink. Other times the typewriter is central to the plot. There are a few characters who appear in more than one story, but those stories don’t necessarily form any sort of cohesive arc, although the basic personality and interests of each character are consistent throughout.

The stories are varied, from tender romance, to science fiction, to contemporary drama. Some are contemporary, some historical, some set in the future. They vary, too, in the emotions they evoke: tenderness, humor, awe, compassion. Among the plots are a funny romcom between best friends, a young actor who gets caught up on the hoopla of the film he’s helping to promote, a man who time travels back to the New York World’s Fare in 1964, and just can’t imagine leaving the charming woman he meets there, a veteran warms to the present with his family on Christmas Eve while memories of war haunt him, four friends travel to the moon in a spaceship they built in their backyard.

Clearly, Hanks is a gifted writer, and I look forward to reading more of his works. I’m a great fan of short stories and I loved this collection, but I’d love to see what he does with a full novel.

Hanks narrates the audiobook himself. I cannot think that anyone would do it better. The last story is a sort of movie script, and he gets help from a cast of friends, including Peter Scolari and Cecily Strong.

sep 8, 9:50 am

>24 JulieLill: Love Mary Roach!

sep 9, 10:09 am

The Winter Rose - Jennifer Donnelly
Genera: Historical Romance
India Jones...her name, an echo, intentional or not, of the Indiana Jones, Harrison Ford film character, is spirited, richer than God, smart, high-toned, (in her case another word for smutty), tough and diligent. She lacks only the ability to “smell a set-up a mile away,” a skill that would help her fit right in with her patients in Whitechapel, described as London’s dingiest, grimiest, district, where she has set up her medical practice. The story features a heroine who appears to be an upstanding member of society, but who is "less than complete", without a man...and not just any man...preferably a dangerous one. India fills the bill with Sid Malone, a cruel-hearted and cruelly handsome gangster who is definitely not for the faint of heart. Both naturally resist the temptations of the other.... though not for long enough. Eventually, hormones out rules good common sense that God gave green apples; as the author explains, “He stood, as if to go, then instead he bent to her, took her face in his hands, parted her lips with his tongue, and kissed her deeply.” Once those lips were parted they remained that way for the remainder of the book...and though it wasn't said in so many words, I suspect other body parts as well. To no one's surprise, Sid eventually gets himself in trouble with the police. When he’s released on his own recognizance and arms himself with a false name, he goes in search of India, who has transferred herself to Kenya to do try and "do good in the country". But it seems she has something that Sid says is his. Meanwhile, India is looking for something that she says is hers, but she is stymied by the evil politician...just what this story needed...another evil" anything. Freddie Lytton is the evil politician. who come to think of it, does have several "Jack the Ripper" qualities. Two questions that will sum this up for most readers...Can love take precedence over money? and can love, or the readers patience, out last this way too long, too average narrative? It took a while, but I believe I have come up with the perfect description of this one. This is the love child of Horatio Alger who meets a bodice-ripper who meets a Hemingway, with Dickensian dashes for good measure. I didn't think they wrote "bodice-rippers" anymore...Guess I was wrong. Oh, well...some good came from it... I can cross of another challenge category:)

sep 9, 11:11 pm

Crows: Genius Birds / Kyla Vanderklugt
4 stars

This is a graphic novel aimed at kids, this one with a focus on crows. Crows (along with other corvids) are extremely smart. They are also very social creatures. The “story” in this graphic novel has a crow breaking a dog out of his yard. As the crow tells the dog all about crows, the dog helps the crow get to food in the green bins along the street.

This is so well done and I think anyone can learn from these. There are things crows do that remind me of humans. And that is commented on in the book. One thing I didn’t know that crows are very good imitators (with sounds!). It’s part of a series called “Science Comics” and it is so good. This is the 2nd book I’ve read in the series (and I plan to read more) and they’ve both been very good and I have learned things! The illustrations are also very well done, including images of a couple of things in their actual size.

sep 10, 8:28 am

>29 LibraryCin: While I was at the zoo, we had a crow that we used in our outreach education programs that was smarter than some people I know.

sep 10, 9:33 am

Bound With You - Shaw Montgomery
Tender Control Series Book #1
Genera: M/M Romance/BDSM (light)
Keeping a roof over his family’s heads has been Landon’s only goal for years. Hard work and multiple jobs kept them afloat, but it didn’t leave much time for self-reflection or a social life. Now that their finances are secure and he can finally have a life of his own, he’s left wondering one thing…now what? The solemn young man with the tattoos and temptingly placed jewelry might not know what he wants, or even if he’s a sub, but something about him pulls at Porter. With his world in limbo after the sale of his business, Porter isn’t sure what to do next. For years, building his company was the only thing on his mind, but now, when all he has left is an empty life and too much time on his hands, Porter is left wondering one thing…now what? When two men come to a crossroads, they’ll have to come together to finally discover what they were really meant to find in life…love.

I really liked the Landon character. He has decided to dedicate some time to finding himself. It's his lucky day as he meets Porter, an older Dom, when he checks out the kink club and Porter gives him a tour. You know that things are going to progress fast from that point. Porter is determined not to rush things and give Landon some time to work out what his needs are for himself...but Porter is definitely willing to help Landon figure out all the things his sub is into. Landon's mother is determined to have Landon spent his every free moment with her working on projects in her house that either aren't need at all or could wait. I really like how Porter handle that situation without alienating Landon from his family. Shaw Montgomery has written the story that explains submission as being more than just sex making the characters, as well as the story completely believable.

Bound To You - Shaw Montgomery
Tender Control Series Book #2
Genera: M/M Romance/BDSM (light)/Age Play

Sometimes you just have to go after what you want…even if that’s to submit. Asa has always known he wanted a Master to serve and love…but finding someone he can trust has turned out to be his biggest stumbling block. Why no one has patience any longer is his biggest question…right up until he sees a man across the room at the Bound & Controlled club. Suddenly, all he needs to know in life is the identity of the familiar man with the compelling stare. When a blast from the past shows up in the most unexpected place, Stuart knows he has some decisions to make. Asa has always seen things just a little bit differently, and Stuart can’t imagine letting him navigate the club or the lifestyle alone. But is he really the right man for the sweet boy with the troubled past? Sometimes it takes two slightly broken souls to form one perfect love.

Asa was definitely an interesting character. I couldn't help wishing him all the luck in the world following his talk with the character that he had labeled and thought of as "Pizza Guy". Instead, he sees a man across the room...and he can't believe his eyes, and not just because the guy is good looking, but because ASA KNOWS HIM. It's Stuart, who was Asa's neighbor when he was a kid. Of course, that makes Stuart at least 20 years older that Asa. Stuart remembers watching Asa run through his flower beds as a kid, and Asa remembers that Stuart always had time to talk to him when no one else did, and never yelled at him about the flower beds. The age difference doesn't stop either of them, but it certainly slowed things down and created a great deal of careful thought about how they felt now about one another. I liked seeing Asa grow and Stuart accept his own needs and realize that Asa did need him exactly as he was.

sep 10, 12:29 pm

Trust in Me - Luna David - (Massachusetts)
Boys Club Series Book #2
Narrator: Philip Alces
Genera: M/M Romance/BDSM
Mateo Alvarez...(Mattie), is finally starting to get his life back in order after escaping an unhealthy relationship. As much as he wants a Daddy, he is starting to think it isn't meant to be. That changes when he's enjoying a night out at a club and is caught off guard by a serendipitous meeting with a Daddy he's instantly drawn to. Assured by a best friend that Jake is a good man and a good Daddy, Mateo allows himself to sink into his submissive headspace. Jake wants to take care of Mattie in ways Mattie has never experienced, but will he allow himself to trust Jake enough to share all his secrets? Matteo sparks something in Jake Cosgrove he's long since thought dormant; a need to protect and nurture. Mattie might be small in stature, but his personality fills all the hollow places inside Jake he didn't even know were empty. Determined to make Mattie his, Jake knows he needs to build a foundation of trust to show him what a real Daddy/boy relationship should be. But is that enough to make Mattie confident in what they could be to each other, or will his boy's past relationship ruin what they have before it even begins?

Mateo...better known as Mattie, is best friends with his two former roommates, Liam and Carter, from the first book. We get to spend some time with them again throughout this book. It was also nice to meet and get to know Jake's younger brother, Josh. Mattie and Josh connected right off and became very good friends...adding to the sweetness of the story. Jake’s Nonna was an added addition also greeting and welcoming Mattie to her family. You knew right way that she was the glue and the heart that held what was left of Jake's family together. Mattie really did need lots of love and special nurturing. For Mattie love is his everything since he missed it entirely while growing up. As a result, he has a low thrash-hole for trust. Ever since the first book the boys have been together forming the perfect support group for each other and have become more than just friends. They stood by Mattie without question, His ex who was lower than dirt, had opened accounts in Mattie's name and bought expensive cars and other high-dollar things, leaving Mattie to work 3 jobs to pay for it all. Jake was exactly what Mattie needed to be able to breathe again. Jake was the most special nurturing daddy that Mattie could ever have hoped for. Luna David doesn't let her fans down with Jake and Mattie's story. While it was slightly different from the previous book it was equally as endearing and totally awesome.

sep 10, 12:47 pm

Redigerat: sep 10, 6:56 pm

The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller
3 1/2 ***

In the tiny town of Snope City, Tennessee, Haven Moore's visions of the past make her an outcast. When she sees a notorious celebrity on TV, vivid memories of her life as Constance, when her love for a boy named Ethan ended in fiery tragedy, flood back. In hot pursuit of answers, Haven travels to New York City to uncover the secrets embedded in her past lives--and loves. Only the Oroboros (sp) Society, a mysterious group devoted to unlocking the secrets of reincarnation, holds the answers Haven needs. But in a city where love and lies intermingle, how can Haven pry into her past without letting the truth destroy her in the present?

What started out as a quick, fun read about a teenager who has visions of her past life and love in the first section, became an off-the-rails mess in the second half. Which is a shame, because so much of the teenage angst Haven Moore takes place against modern cultural conflicts. Her overbearing, God-fearing grandmother is only too ready to blame her troubles on Hellfire and brimstone. Her best friend is her classmate Beau, who is both gay and the star of the football team. They are smart kids who don't quite fit into the small-town mentality of their high school.

Haven and Beau have created a successful business for making prom dresses for their schoolmates and they are looking forward to using their earnings to help put themselves through college. But after Haven sees the face of Iain Morrow on TV, and her childhood visions are brought back to her from her late father's notes, things begin to change swiftly for them. And not for the better, so Haven takes her earnings and heads to New York City where she hopes she can solve this mystery once and for all.

In the second half of the book, she meets Iain who has a clearer understanding of their past lives together and that part is fascinating. Instead of continuing a cohesive narrative, however, the book suddenly takes a turn into doubt, then drama, then even more crazy turns when members of the Ouroboros Society play a larger and larger role with Haven and Iain. Characters are introduced who played a role in Constance and Ethan's past lives and rather than dealing with Haven and Iain as competent young adults, Haven goes on the run in NYC for no good reason other than maybe just adding pages.

Great idea and in the same vein as the Twilight and Hunger Games series, but just falls apart with the teenage tour of NYC taking over any semblance of a plot.

sep 10, 8:07 pm

To Sir, With Love by E. R. Braithwaite
188 p. - ★ ★ ★ ★

After the end of World War II, British pilot and engineer E. R. Braithwaite tried to find a job. When he would show up for an interview, thus revealing that he was Black, he would be told the job was filled, they no longer needed an engineer, or was given a courtesy interview that never led to a job offer. Moping by a pond one day, a retired professor encouraged him to become a teacher, as there was a severe shortage of teachers in London. Braithwaite is hired to teach at the Greenslade School in London's East End. The students, having driven off more than one teacher, try to drive Braithwaite off. He decides to push them academically and socially, tying most lessons to how they would use the information once they were out of school, treating and addressing them as adults. He becomes a respected teacher - even beloved by some.

I read this book years ago - maybe when I was in high school. I reread it for my book club, which had the September theme of "school." I liked the book best when I pictured Sidney Poitier in the classroom, maybe with Lulu singing in the background. Parts of the book don't play well with modern sensibilities: students - especially girls - are described quite physically, with the word "fat" used a lot. Other parts are still playing out: the racism that Braithwaite encountered hasn't changed a lot in the 60 plus years since the book was written. A few things that made the reading a little more difficult for me: I never have understood the British system of labeling the educational "grades." I finally figured out these were fifteen- and sixteen-year-olds, but they were also in their last year of school. Braithwaite refers to them all as "children" - I suppose "kids" was too informal - but I'm not sure I ever referred to my 6th graders as "children," as it now refers to kids much younger than mid-teens. What I found really unusual about the school was that the students stayed with one teacher all day, other than a few special classes. Braithwaite taught math, English, history, science, geography, and PE to the same group of 42 kids. Wow!

One night when I couldn't sleep because of my foot, I was up and decided to read a little about Braithwaite. Some who were in his class said they respected him, but didn't love him. Braithwaite himself said that Poitier played him too soft in the film.

sep 10, 11:11 pm

The Discovery of the Titanic / Robert Ballard
3.5 stars

Robert Ballard was a scientist who wanted to explore the ocean in hopes of finding the Titanic wreckage. This tells of his journey to do so (he was part of the first team to discover where it was on the ocean floor in 1985), as he created some of the video technology to do that.

This was mostly good. There were a few parts that got bogged down in detail explaining the technology or what was working (or not) that was, at times, a bit too much for me. As with many nonfiction books, it was a slow read, but overall, I still liked it. It was unfortunate that, in finding the wreckage, others followed suit and “raided” the site. Ballard had hoped that everything would remain there in its own graveyard, but of course, that didn’t happen, in the end. At the time, he was surprised at how much interest there still was in the Titanic. I did like how he would sometimes explain what they were seeing as they explored, then tie it to the real people and/or happenings on the ship in 1912. There were some amazing (colour) photographs in the book, as well – pictures of what he saw when he was underwater looking at the Titanic.

sep 11, 8:35 am

Rock, Paper, Scissors - Alice Feeney - (Scotland)
Genera: Mystery/Thriller
Think you know the person you married? Think again.... Things have been wrong with Mr. and Mrs. Wright for a long time. When Adam and Amelia win a weekend away to Scotland, it might be just what their marriage needs. Self-confessed workaholic and screenwriter Adam Wright has lived with face blindness his whole life. He can’t recognize friends or family, or even his own wife. Every anniversary the couple exchanges traditional gifts - paper, cotton, pottery, tin - and each year Adam’s wife writes him a letter that she never lets him read. Until now. They both know this weekend will make or break their marriage, but they didn’t randomly win this trip. One of them is lying, and someone doesn’t want them to live happily ever after. Ten years of marriage. Ten years of secrets. And an anniversary they will never forget.

It's the story of an unhappy British couple who attempt to rekindle the magic of their marriage with a weekend trip to a remote spot in Scotland. I just read another Aice Feeny book and this one begs the same question...how and when is she going to trick me this time? Ms. Fenney is great at giving, what I call, "puzzle-box narratives". I was surprised.... we get only the facts...plain and simple. Amelia has won a weekend getaway in an office raffle, and as the story opens, she and her screenwriter husband, Adam, along with their dog, Bob, are miserably making their way through a snowstorm to a destination in the Scottish Highlands which, by no stretch of the imagination, is anywhere close to being a Ritz Carlton that's for sure. A freezing cold wind and snow...a barely converted church with many locked rooms...and the electricity problems that would make a saint cuss...is what they find for shelter. You know things are headed downhill like a snowball headed for Hell by this time. To make the events even worse...if that seems even possible... they also find that their host is a mysterious caretaker who has left firewood and a nice note but seems to be spying on them through the window. By this time both Adam and Amelia are considering this weekend the perfect occasion to end their struggling marriage by any means necessary...but then Bob disappears. The narrative between the unhappy couple goes back and forth through first-person chapters by both Amelia and Adam interwoven with a series of letters written to Adam by a much happier Amelia, on their anniversary through the years and themed to the traditional gifts: paper, cotton, wood, leather, etc. There's also a rock and scissors one, referencing the children's game of the book title "Rock, Paper, Scissors"...which the couple starting early on to use to make everyday decisions like "Should we name our dog "Bob"... Should we have jelly or jam" "Should we stay together or get a divorce?" References are also made about the famous writer, Henry Winter. Adam, it seems, has made a fortune adapting these novels through something that I didn't understand exactly but seem wasn't illegal. Ms. Fenney also weaves in some sometimes-grim observations about the literary life. I really liked this one. On meeting a cashier at the rural grocery store, that had had a bad moment that must have extended to include her entire life thus far: "The woman wore her bitterness like a badge; the kind of person who writes one-star book reviews." This isn't a one-star book review. This story will leave you questioning everything you think you know, and it earned every one of the 5 -stars I gave it.

sep 11, 12:19 pm

The Daughters of Juárez – Teresa Rodríguez

Subtitle: A True Story of Serial Murder South of the Border.

Beginning in 1993, the residents of Juárez, Mexico, just across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas, became aware of a disturbing frequency of murders of young women. The women were mostly young, slender, and with long hair. They disappeared in broad daylight, from bus stops or while walking home from their jobs in factories or downtown shops. Their bodies were typically found in the surrounding desert, usually days or weeks after they disappeared, with the result that there was little evidence remaining. And yet the families claimed that authorities took the murders too lightly.

Investigators bungled or just ignored standard procedures, failed to collect and secure (or just lost or destroyed) key evidence, and relied on torture of random suspects to secure “confessions” and clear the dockets. The continued murders attracted international attention, but despite heightened scrutiny the crimes and lack of prosecution continued.

Journalist Teresa Rodríguez was a reporter for Univision and spent considerable time in the area interviewing families, suspects, prosecutors and police officials (when allowed to). This is her report of the time up to about 2005. It’s well researched and the story is presented in a manner that is easy to absorb, however distressing the subject.

Some estimate that at least 350 women were murdered between 1993 and 2005. It seems that the machismo culture put little value on these women. But Rodríguez makes it clear that there was considerable corruption and/or ineptitude among authorities. The most disturbing thing to me is that the book leaves the reader with more questions than answers.

Redigerat: sep 11, 1:53 pm

His Missing Pieces - M. A. Innes
Pieces Series Book #1
Genera: M/M Romance/ Daddy/iittle
Maddox was drawn to Bryan the first time they met…but something was missing. Best friends, maybe more, they did almost everything together. They had classes together…studied together…hung out together…They were inseparable. But as close as they were, Maddox knew he was missing something about Bryan. Some kind of missing piece that would explain so much. If Bryan wasn’t in the closet, why was he so quiet about his sexuality? If he was out, why didn’t he date? Why couldn’t he see Maddox as more than just a friend? Bryan had no idea what to do. As much as he felt for Maddox, he’d never be able to tell him because that would mean letting him in on Bryan’s deepest secret.

When they first met, Maddox tried to show Bryan that he was interested in getting to know him as more than a friend, but since Bryan never seemed to even notice, Maddox assumed Bryan was straight. He found out later that wasn't the case, but he'd never seen him date or even act interested in things that most gay men would find attractive. Maddox knows there's something he's missing about Bryan, but he just can't figure out what it is. It's like there's a "missing piece" to the puzzle. He can't figure out why Bryan won't just tell him. Then he wonders if maybe Bryan doesn't trust him. Maddox doesn't know how to get it through to Bryan that he will accept him whatever he's into. Afterall everybody can't like the same things gay or straight. Maddox has given up dating other guys because he feels like he's cheating, even though he and Bryan reman are just friends and Maddox always wonders what it could be like if only they could become a real couple and be honest with each other. College vacation comes up and Maddox and Bryan head to Bryan's mom's house to spend the summer. I really liked Bryan's Mom. She's very supportive, sometimes a little too much so, especially since she evidently knows what Bryan's into and that he is actually in love with Maddox. She tries to encourage Bryan to be honest and Maddox overhears. He learns that Bryan cares for him too, but that his "secret" is makes him too afraid to say anything. Enough is enough and Madox spends most of the rest of the story working to get Bryan to understand that he loves him too and no matter what his likes are...it's okay. Maddox and Bryan are cute. Bryan is so shy and adorable. I hoped that Maddox would ask someone with some experience for help. He pretended to feel confidence that he didn't yet have enough experience to understand yet. It was, as always, adorable when folks finally find their "missing pieces" and fit everything together to become the people they really are and want to be. I've read several of this author's books about littles and their Daddies, but this series may become one of my favorites.

Redigerat: sep 16, 7:09 pm

Flawed Perfection - M.A. Innes - (Washington D.C.)
Genera: M/M Romance /Some Puppy Play
Nathan wasn’t sure why people were so obsessed with dating and sex. Sure, it probably felt good, but he just couldn’t figure out what all the fuss was about. It might have helped if he knew what he was looking for, but with so many labels and options, he just wasn’t sure. It seemed so easy to everyone else, but to him, it felt like something was missing. Gabriel thought Nathan was absolutely perfect. He was sweet, funny, sexy, and completely confused about what he desired—but absolutely perfect. He wanted to help Nathan, but would his sexy roommate be open to something that was completely outside the box, or would he ruin their relationship before it even started?

It's an incredibly sweet romance between two roommates and a story about finding out who you are and what you want and having the courage to explore it. Nathan is a forensic accountant who lives mostly in his own head. He has a mixed-up brain and no filter on what may come out of his mouth...but he is sweetness personified and really does need a keeper. He has one. His roommate Gabriel discreetly manages Nathan while quietly obsessing over how attractive he is and how much he wants him. Nathan is a virgin, not from any hard held beliefs, but only due to the fact that he has never gotten interested enough in anyone to go any further than casual dating. He is not sure if he is gay or straight or bi or something else, because nothing feels right. When he accidentally finds out that his roommate seems to be into BDSM and puppy play however, he is really intrigued. Nathan is a great character. Not only is he completely clueless, he is also curious and has no social inhibitions, so he googles and asks the questions about the lifestyle and the kink. This seems to be a common theme in M.A. Innes’ work. She always tries to educate the reader as to what the participants may get out of the specific kink.... since there is so many different types and something that isn't a course you can sign up for in school. She always manages to do it in a way that never makes it seem like it's info-dumping. This author also writes under the name Shaw Montgomery and those books carry out the same theme. This one is a lot more romance than it is erotica, despite the puppy play and the steamy scenes the main focus of the book is Nathan’s path to discovery of himself and his wants and needs.

sep 11, 11:30 pm

The Flight Attendant / Chris Bohjalian
3.75 stars

Cassie is a flight attendant and in Dubai for one night. She is also a party girl and usually drinks too much. A passenger was flirting with her on the plane, so she ends up at his hotel for the night. When she wakes the next morning, having blacked out for the part of the night before, she turns to see Alex was murdered in the night! Did she do this? She doesn’t think she would do something like this, blackout drunk or no! But she can’t remember. If it wasn’t her, why did someone kill Alex, but not her? What does she do now…?

This started off really good, but I have to admit I wasn’t as interested in some parts (possible like the Russian spy stuff and when the reader followed the “bad guys”). But following Cassie as she tried to figure out what to do certainly kept me interested. And knowing and following the “bad guys” separately did keep up the tension in parts of the book, so there was a reason for it.

sep 12, 7:21 am

The Loner - Riley Hart - (California)
Series: The Vers Podcast, Book #1
Narrator: Sean Crisden
You could never find better friends than the "Fantastic Four". Riley Hart has created enticing characters with wildly different personalities who prove that chosen family is often times closer, stronger, and more important than biological family. This is book one of what is going to be a fantastic series if this was any indication.

Opposites do attract as is proven when a bar owner and a movie star, who have taken more than a decade to fall in love, finally realize that this is what they have always wanted. They, without realizing it, have morphed from strangers hooking up, to friends-with-benefits, to something more over the course of those years. The titled "Loner" is Declan, one of the four, lifelong best friends. They host a podcast about “love, sex, friends, the lifestyle, and the gay culture. Along with Declan, "The Loner", is also Corbin, "The Charmer"; Parker, "The Romantic"; and Marcus, "The Realist". I can't wait to have their stories. But back to this one.

Declan meets closeted, virgin Sebastian, an up-and-coming actor who picks him up at the bar that Declan tends. They begin to hookup several times a year for a number of years, in which time Sebastian becomes a fairly well-known movie star. He really likes that Declan doesn’t treat him any differently and doesn't seem at all impressed by his stardom. When he comes out, he is pressured by his agent and the movie studio to be the right kind of super masculine gay man. Sebastian is lonely. He doesn’t have any real friends in the studio, only acquaintances, no one he can talk to or trust. He asks Declan to be his friend and they begin to go out on a series of non-dates that feel a lot like real dates to Declan. after stressing out over the "dates" that aren't "dates" Sebastian finally admits to himself that he wants more than friendship, and Declan finds himself caring and hoping that Sebastian doesn’t walk away. But he’s not a guy who will allow himself to fall in love. He doesn’t feel very lovable and just can't trust anyone enough to let them in. This wonderful book is a great combination of romance, humor, friendship, and camaraderie. I can’t wait for the subsequent books. It’s going to be so much fun getting to know these men better as the group of four grows to be a family of eight when they’re all partnered up. Congrats to Riley Hart for another fantastic bo

sep 13, 8:13 am

A Limited Run - Karen McQuestion - (Montana)
Genera: Mystery
When billionaire Felix Worthington invites the five cast members of the TV show A Little Slice of Haven to recreate their roles twenty-five years later, they're initially skeptical. It's an unusual request, even for a self-professed superfan like Felix. For several of them, playing a member of the Barlow family in the small town of Haven in the 1940s was an experience best forgotten. Meri Wetzel, who played a loving wife and mother, has spent the last two decades avoiding her TV husband, Jeff. And the actors who played their children each harbor festering resentments of their own. But living in a recreated version of the town in a warehouse in Montana has its appeal, even knowing they'll be filmed with hidden cameras as they improvise with other actors playing the townspeople. And the clincher? Two million dollars for each of them, provided they stay all ten days and remain in character the entire time. One by one, they set aside their hesitations and agree to the terms. After all, with two million dollars they'd be set for life, and really, what could go wrong?

This was certainly an interesting concept. Getting the cast of a television show “A Little Slice of Haven” back together after twenty years to play their characters for ten days. It felt like going behind the scenes on "Father Knows Best" or "Leave It to Beaver". If this could really be pulled off, you would learn what the actors are really like. How they'd get along in real life? What "drama" might go on between them off stage. The author gave us a glimpse of the answers to these questions by setting up each character in “real life”, then showing the reader the television version of each one. There were some "conditions" that each one had to agree to in order to collect the two-million dollars each was told they would receive for doing this. They had to stay in character every minute of the day and night, and they had to live in the recreated town of Haven for the ten days. They are each given limited directions each day but have no idea what their castmates have been told to do. It is a really great story that starts on a slow burn and ramps up the heat. The reader will find that they must keep reading or listening to see what would happen to these characters both in “real life” and in the fictional town of Haven, that is coming more "real" by every turn of the page. You will HAVE to stay to the very end to learn WHY billionaire Felix Worthington set this up...but it is SO worth it.

sep 13, 12:03 pm

Big Panda and Tiny Dragon – James Norbury

”Which is more important,” asked Big Panda, “the journey or the destination?”
“The company,” said Tiny Dragon

And so, two unlikely friends set off on a journey of discovery. They have no specific plan and go where life leads them over the course of four seasons. Sometimes they are certain they are lost, but then they realize that they might not have had a particular experience or seen a certain sight if they hadn’t been ‘lost.’ They enjoy the beauty of nature and open their minds to new experiences. They learn to rely on each other. At times the journey is difficult – they are cold or wet or hungry. They ponder some serious philosophical questions, and carefully observe how others endure. “Even a damaged tree can produce beautiful blossoms.

The story is told through Norbury’s wonderful drawings and the pair’s quiet conversations. There were times when I just sat and looked at one of those drawings and let my mind take me where it wanted. How refreshing!

”Are we nearly there yet?” asked Tiny Dragon.
Big Panda smiled. “I hope not.”

sep 13, 3:20 pm

Fortune and Glory
Janet Evanovich
3/5 stars
Stephanie is back! However, her grandmother's new husband, Jimmy Roselli died on their wedding night and leaving a hidden fortune. Stephanie and her grandmother are now searching for the money along with his several others and Gabriela Rose, a soldier of fortune. Will they find it before anyone else does?

sep 13, 9:16 pm

They Called Us Enemy – George Takei
Co-authors: Justin Eisinger and Steven Scott
Illustrated by Harmony Becker

George Takei, best known as Lt Hikaru Sulu, science officer aboard the Spaceship Enterprise, recalls his childhood growing up in an internment camp after the US government required that even US-born persons of Japanese ancestry be treated as “enemy” during World War II.

George was young and his parents tried to shelter him and his siblings from the realities. They shouldered the burdens and tried to give their children a sense of community and security despite the conditions they endured. George’s father, in particular, took a leadership role within the camps where they were assigned, leading work crews to help improve conditions, ensuring schooling for the children, and even organizing entertainment. But as George grew into his teens, he came to realize how degrading this treatment was. He lashed out at what he viewed as his parents’ passivity; he wanted anger and rebellion. Over time, he came to understand his parents’ decisions and he found that he could draw upon his childhood experiences and lead efforts to inform Americans about the policies of the US during that period.

I found the graphic novel format really engaging and accessible. Becker’s illustrations were excellent; not too dark so it was still easy to read the text. The facial expressions she gave the characters really helped to convey the emotions they were feeling.

sep 13, 10:24 pm

I am currently reading Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins, and I hope to finish the series by the end of the month, saying it has been in my to-read pile forever. I might start Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard (the second book in the Red Queen Series) if I finish The Hunger Games series first. Welcome to the life of a middle school, book-obsessed weirdo I guess lol.

sep 13, 11:20 pm

The Haunting of Blackwood House / Darcy Coates
4 stars

When Mara falls in love with Blackwood House – a huge house but under her budget to buy – the creepy murderous history of the place doesn’t deter her in the least. She is adamant that ghosts don’t exist. You see, she grew up in a house with parents who were spiritualists. They wanted little girl Mara to train with a medium to hone her skills they were sure she had. For the past four years, though, Mara has avoided her parents and does not believe even a little bit in ghosts; there are always rational explanations. Her super-supportive boyfriend, Neil, has reservations, but will help out with the house however he is able.

It was a slow-moving book, and maybe not super-original, but it was scary. I had a hard time heading to the basement to clean my cats’ litter box the one evening I’d been reading the book! Because of that, it gets a high rating from me. The book did its job to scare me, as any good horror should.

sep 14, 7:26 am

A Rulebook for Restless Rogues - Jess Everlee - (England)
Genera: Historical M/M Romance
London, 1885: David Forester and Noah Clarke have been best friends since boarding school. All grown up now, clever, eccentric Noah is Savile Row’s most promising young tailor, while former socialite David runs an underground queer club, The Curious Fox. Nothing makes David happier than to keep the incense lit, the pianist playing and all his people comfortable, happy and safe until they stumble out into the dawn. But when the unscrupulous baron who owns the Fox moves to close it, David’s world comes crashing down. Noah’s never feared a little high-stakes gambling, but as he risks his own career in hopes of helping David, he realizes two things: One: David has not been honest about how he ended up at The Curious Fox in the first place. Two: Noah’s feelings for David have become far more than friendly. What future lies beyond those first furtive kisses? Noah and David can hardly wait to find out…if they can untangle David from his web of deception without losing everything Noah has worked for.

The story takes us to the London of the late 19th century. David and Noah have been best friends, and sometimes more, since boarding school. Now David runs an illicit gay club, and Noah dreams of having the freedom to turn his whimsical designs into fantastically fashionable clothing...but when David's job, and with it his freedom, are threatened, they have some critical choices to make. I've never read this author so when one of the librarians at my local branch who knew I read M/M romances, asked if I would read it and possible lead a discussion...of course I enthusiastically said YES! We have two likeable characters in Noah and David...but they inhabit a time in history and a society that is not quite ready for them. The stakes are abundantly clear. They could face loss of their livelihood, possible prison time, and perhaps worse, that society was not exactly jumping over themselves to defend gay relationships in the late 1800s. I always love a romance where the greater conflict is something external rather than the protagonists being idiots about their own feelings. Also, it was really nice to see that these two guys were both friends to start with and have some history between them that keeps them from being totally blind to their shared attraction. Conflict, of course, rears its ugly head throughout their story, but not enough to ruin any part of the love that grows between these two. Historical romances of any type are generally pretty much a "thanks but no-thank you" for me, but this one along with the upcoming discussion...piqued my interest. Fans of M/M romances in general, and historical M/M romance more specifically, will probably really enjoy this offering.

sep 14, 10:10 am

Invisible Strings - Aimee Nicole Walker - (Georgia)
Narrator: Tristan James
Genera: M/M Romance
Magnetic as the Sun: Jimmy Alsop, a vivacious journalist, longs to trade his sheltered life for a summer of adventure but lacks the confidence to launch his stellar plan.

Lonely as the Moon: Nova Skye, an aloof scientist, wants to resuscitate his dead love life but hasn't found the right man to kickstart his guarded heart.

Eclipse of the Heart: Sparks fly when a chance encounter drops Jimmy and Nova into the same orbit. Though their approach to life and love couldn't be more different, they're inexplicably drawn together as if connected by an invisible string. With nothing to lose but their inhibitions, Jimmy and Nova embark on an epic adventure of discovery. Passions soar with the sultry Savannah temperatures, and soon, their carefree summer becomes something more profound and beautiful than either man bargained for. But are the ties that bind sturdy enough to withstand a lifetime, or will they fray after a season?

We met Jimmy Alsop, the aspiring, but insecure journalist that Felix took on as an intern, then put him into a sort of "Felix boot camp" to build up his self-image and ability to become a better reporter, in a previous Sinister in Savanna story, and yes, we fell in love with sweet, blushing Jimmy then. I was happy to see that it carried over into this, Jimmy's romance story. Jimmy has now become a much stronger reporter and individual...a bit more able to stand up for himself and his ideas than the younger Jimmy that we originally met. The stories Jimmy is wanting to do for his newspaper is the perfect format for the author to show the character’s interactions with others, and it’s Jimmy’s humanity that shine out on every occasion. Now we have Nova, the astronomer, whose mother is part of Jimmy’s series of stories. Nova, (I love his name), is equally fascinating. He’s divorced, a single dad, with issues he’s dealing with, and an overwhelming attraction to our innocent Jimmy, the journalist is the last thing he expects or thinks he needs. I really liked how the title The Invisible Strings, showed that these unseen strings are what connects people whether we see them or feel them at first. It’s those strings that just keep pulling people back together, time after time. Fate, stars… whatever you want to call it. In Jimmy and Nova case it was a list that Jimmy made up of all the "adventures" he wanted to accomplish over a two-week period. Things like "swim in the ocean", go for a long bicycle ride"...fall in love wasn't on the list... but should have been. This is a wonderful love story, made so much better by those characters that surround the two men and support them with their love. It’s family, co- workers, and friends... We get to know them all. It meant so much to see how Nova and his ex-husband shared their daughter, and how Nova's ex and his boyfriend supported Nova and Jimmy's new and fragile relationship with not a cross or bad word spoken between them. My only slight issue was with the small amount of drama at the end. It felt to be forced when given the two men and how well they communicated...but it was short lived and easily resolved. Overall, I adored Jimmy and Nova’s romance. It was a winner all the way around. Tristan James once again, does a fantastic job with the narration and "giving life" to Nova and Jimmy.

sep 14, 11:38 am

John Hughes: A Life in Film: The Genius Behind Ferris Bueller, The Breakfast Club, Home Alone, and more
Kirk Honeycutt
4/5 stars
Kirk Honeycutt recaps and discusses the films of John Hughes. This book does also talk about his life but not in an in-depth way. I enjoyed it. Books About Film and Television

sep 14, 4:02 pm

Her Last Flight – Beatriz Williams
Book on CD performed by Cassandra Campbell

Adapted from the book jacket: In 1947, photojournalist Janey Everett arrives at a surfing village on Kauai, Hawaii to research a planned biography of aviation pioneer Sam Mallory, who never returned from the Spanish Civil War. Janey has tracked down Irene Lindquist, owner of a local island-hopping airline, whom she believes might actually be the legendary Irene Foster, Mallory’s onetime student and flying partner. Foster’s disappearance during a round-the-world flight in 1937 remains one of the world’s great unsolved mysteries.

My reactions:
For some reason I thought this book was going to actually be a fictionalized story of Amelia Earhart. (Obviously, I never read the book jacket or reviews before opening the book.) Well, it isn’t that, but Earhart’s own story (and disappearance) certainly influence this novel.

Once again, the author uses the now typical dual timeline for this work of historical fiction. Of course, both timelines are historical: 1947 and 1937. As Janey wiggles her way into Lindquist’s world and tries to earn her trust, Irene reflects on her own memories of meeting Sam Mallory, flying with him, and both their disappearances. As the stories unfold, the reader comes to learn more about both these women: their hopes, dreams, joys and sorrows.

There are more than a few surprises in store – for Janey, and for the reader.

Although I’ve come to dislike the dual timeline so popular in historical fiction, Williams handles it very well in this case. And it did serve to heighten interest and intrigue. I couldn’t help but try to fit the puzzle together, but I was as surprised as Janey to learn the full truth of the story.

Cassandra Campbell has become one of my favorite audiobook narrators. She does a stellar job of performing the audio version.

sep 15, 4:30 am

Detta konto har stängts av för spammande.

sep 15, 10:43 am

Less – Andrew Sean Greer

Novelist Arthur Less is almost fifty and can’t seem to get his writing mojo back. He is lost on life’s journey, feeling sad, lonely, and dejected. His latest work is not being accepted for publication, and now his recent ex-boyfriend is getting married! So, Arthur does the logical thing. He runs away from his troubles by accepting every invitation to speak at a variety of odd events. Doing so, he’ll be able to spend some time going around the world and avoiding Freddy’s wedding, and his birthday.

This won the Pulitzer for fiction and I’m not sure why. I never warmed to Arthur. I couldn’t relate to his depression and fear about turning fifty. And I thought the ending was just too pat. There were episodes in Arthur’s journey that tickled me: his attempt at teaching a seminar in Germany with his very poor rudimentary German, the camel ride in Morocco, and the dinners in Japan. Greer’s depictions of these settings and events were quite entertaining.

Such episodes kept me reading, but it’s not a prize-winner in my opinion.

sep 15, 3:38 pm

Just Say When - Aimee Nicole Walker - (Georgia)
Genera: M/M Romance/Suspense
Someone wants Police Chief Emilio Mendoza dead. And if his unknown assailant doesn’t kill him, pining for Sheriff Abraham Beecham just might. Abe and Lio’s thirty-year journey has taken them from heated rivals to best friends with countless labels and pit stops along the way. Romance is the only avenue left unexplored but not from lack of love or desire. Abe pushes people away before they can get too close, and Lio doesn’t engage in situations he can’t control. They’ve reached an impasse, and neither are willing to risk their friendship until fate intervenes, forcing them to reassess their priorities. But when an unhinged enemy targets Lio, will their gamble be too little too late, or will their love truly conquer all?

It's a book you’ll want to keep reading and finish in one sitting. The plot and characters are engaging, and the flow of the story seamlessly just carries you along. However, given the novel is said in the blurb to be romantic suspense, I felt the plot didn't quite live up to that. There was too little time spent on the suspense aspect of it, and too much on laying out the groundwork and watching Lio and Abe orbit around each other. Both tried really hard to resist the gravitational pull of their attraction. Once the suspense turns to danger, though, the story becomes something so good that you don't want it to end. I wish that that momentum had come along earlier in the story. Like all of Aimee Nicole Walker's books it has so many great things going for it. The highlight is the relationship dynamic between Lio and his ex-wife Alyssa, their son Alex, and Alyssa’s new husband Russ, and Abe. They operate as a family unit, loving and supporting each other. That was a big plus for me in any book...I hate turmoil and miserable characters. I also applaud Walker for showcasing so many women in positions of power and esteem throughout this story. Overall, with Just Say When, this wonderful author delivers a compelling story with characters you’ll want to get to know. While I mentioned the short amount of suspense, it certainly did nothing to detract from the enjoyment of the warm and loving story or to take anything away from its 5 -star rating.

Redigerat: sep 16, 7:08 pm

Silent Strength - A.M. Innes - (Washington D.C.)
Genera: M/M Romance/Age Play/Daddy/Little
Eric knows what he needs…he just doesn’t think anyone else will want it too. He’s finally reached his breaking point. There’s only so many times he can put himself out there and get shot down. After a disastrous first date at a BDSM club, Eric is ready to walk away and push his desires to the furthest reaches of his mind—but then up walks Marcus. But just because the sexy older man is looking for a submissive doesn’t mean he’s looking to be someone’s daddy. Marcus knows what he wants, and he’s spent months getting everything perfect for his boy…now he just needs to find him.

Silent Strength is more than a story about two guys and their kinks. That may be the main topics, but a greater subtopic would be that it's about accepting yourself for who you are and not letting anyone tell you or make you feel that it's wrong. I hate stories that the characters spent three-fourths of the book hating themselves or trying to decide if they want to take a chance with one another, causing both parties to spend most of the book being miserable. A.M. Innes doesn't do that to her characters. She just lets them be happy and discover themselves and allows the reader to share their happiness. As a result, the writing turns out to be subtle and totally lacking unnecessary drama or angst. Eric had a devasting experience in school that lead to him leaving town and living with his aunt...but Eric's happy, real story starts years later when a dominant best friend convinces him to look at kink dating sites. As a result, he fills out a form and agrees to meet a potential "daddy" at the local club. His choice ends up being more the local predator than a daddy protector, but he is comforted by Marcus a real Daddy Dom, at the club. With some helpful interference from friends, who just happen to also be the club owners, both Marcus and Eric get their shot at a "happy ever after". This is a slow, sweet book. Marcus is committed from the start and patiently helps Eric discover who he is and what he wants. It is an interesting look at a Daddy/ boy relationship without feeling that the author is trying to lecture or to convert you, or to shock you. The story continues in book 2 but this can be read as a standalone. Of course, I have book #2

sep 16, 2:58 pm

Daisy Darker - Alice Feeny - (England)
Genera: Psychological Suspense/Thriller
After years of avoiding each other, Daisy Darker’s entire family is assembling for Nana’s 80th birthday party in her crumbling gothic house on a tiny tidal island. The family arrives, each of them harboring secrets. When the tide comes in, they will be cut off from the rest of the world for eight hours. But at the stroke of midnight, as a storm rages, the bodies begin to multiply...and hours later, more family members follow. Trapped on an island where someone is killing them one by one, the Darkers must reckon with their present mystery as well as their past secrets, before the tide goes out and all is revealed.

A birthday party on a remote island turns into a series of bizarre murders. “I was born with a broken heart” is how the title character and narrator of this murder mystery opens her story. Daisy is happy, however, to be celebrating the 80th birthday of her beloved nana, Beatrice Darker. Nana is a children’s author who several decades ago made a fortune on a book titled "Daisy Darker’s Little Secret". Her family gathers for the birthday party at Seaglass, Beatrice’s eccentric old house on the Cornish coast, on an isolated island at the bottom of a cliff that’s only accessible at low tide. It’s a family affair: Beatrice’s son, Frank Darker, a classical musician who was often absent when his children were growing up; Nancy, his ex-wife and the coldly critical mother of those children; and Daisy’s two older sisters, beautiful and smart, Rose and vain and lazy, Lily. Also on the island are Lily’s teenage daughter, Trixie, whose paternity is unknown, and Conor Kennedy, whom Beatrice took in; a neighbor boy who was abused by his father; is now a successful journalist. As the tide cuts off the house from the mainland, Beatrice serves a feast and then announces the reading of her will...a reading that makes almost everyone in the family extremely unhappy. Someone in the group is then found dead in a pool of blood and bodies begin to stack up, each one killed in a personal manner. The few living that remain are frantically trying to identify the killer. I wondered why in the world don't they just call for help...but then we learn that they couldn't as there was no cell service, and Beatrice has stopped paying her landline bill months ago. Between the murders, Daisy fills us in on everyone’s backstory, which sometimes bogs down the suspense. This story begins to feel a bit like Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. In spite of the resemblance, this one has a completely different twisty ending. You can certainly say that "murder is all in the family". Mystery & Suspense fans will find it to be a real "killer" of a tale.

sep 16, 4:42 pm

The Last Tudor / Philippa Gregory
4 stars

This is a fictional account of the lives of the three Grey sisters, the granddaughters of Mary Tudor (Henry VIII’s youngest sister). The eldest, Jane (at only 15-years old), became queen for only 9 days after Henry’s son, Edward died. She was later beheaded after Mary I (Henry’s oldest daughter) became queen. Katherine later secretly married for love, and both she and her husband were imprisoned for the rest of Katherine’s life, by Elizabeth I. The youngest, Mary, who had a curve in her spine that kept her under 4’ (?) tall, also secretly married for love, and she and her husband were also imprisoned when found out.

I have read quite a bit about Jane, and only one or two other books about Katherine and Mary, but I just didn’t recall very much about Katherine and Mary, so I was kept interested. With regards to Elizabeth I, this book sure looked at a different side to her, where she was so very worried about being outsted by others in her family to take over the throne. Katherine and Mary were next in line since Elizabeth had no children (alongside Mary of Scots, granddaughter to Margaret Tudor, Henry VIII’s oldest sister, Margaret, but she was Catholic). I listened to the audio and had no problem with it.

Redigerat: sep 18, 12:45 pm

The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina – Zoraida Córdova
Digital audiobook performed by Frankie Corzo

From the book jacket:
The Montoyas are used to a life without explanations. They know better than to ask why the pantry never seems to run low, or why their matriarch won’t ever leave their home – not for graduations, weddings, or baptisms. But when Orquídea Divina invites them to her funeral and to collect their inheritance, they hope to learn the secrets that she has held on to so tightly their whole lives. Instead, Orquídea is transformed in a tree, her limbs stretching into roots and branches, leaving them with more questions than answers.

My reactions:
This is unlike anything I’ve read before. Part family saga, part paranormal horror, part fantasy, part historical fiction, part quest, part love story. I’m so grateful that there is a family tree in the beginning, as I referred to it several times to clarify relationships of Orquídea’s many descendants. (She was married five times!)

The story ultimately focuses on three of her grandchildren – Reymundo, Marimar and Tatinelly – and her great-granddaughter Rhiannon (daughter of Tatinelly). It is they, recognizing that the family is at danger from an other-worldly presence, who travel to Ecuador to discover the truth of Orquídea’s past.

I was fascinated by the story and greatly enjoyed the audiobook rendition performed by Frankie Corzo, who is a talented voice artist. But I think I need to re-read it to fully absorb the magic of Córdova’s storytelling.

sep 17, 1:09 pm

The Shutout - Dianna Roman
Genera: M/M Romance/Sports
Sometimes love is where you least expect it, and sometimes it's right where you left it. Widower, Max Hartwell, is barely keeping it together, being a single dad, managing his law firm, and navigating everyday chaos. Life after loss is too difficult for surprises, which is why Max would be lost without his reliable best friend and neighbor, Jack. Best pitcher in the MLB, Jack Spears, is at the top of his game. He has it all, except for the one thing he wants most, which happens to be the one thing he can't have if he doesn't want his private life to overshadow his career: love. When an emotional evening reveals his biggest secret, he's faced with losing everything that matters most to him. Can Max see him for the man he truly is, or will Jack forever be doomed to live in the shadow of the image he created as America's favorite pitcher? Heartfelt and human, The Shutout is a story of friendship, loss, love, and the rough road to new beginnings.

It's a heartwarming story of deep friendship evolving into a relationship full of love and shared responsibilities as Jack helps Max move on after the loss of his wife, and Max proves to Jack that being an "out" professional athlete is worth the potential repercussions because of the freedom it gives him to live authentically for the first time. Jack is a laid back, happy go lucky major league baseball pitcher who has earned the highest accolades: four-time MVP, eight-time all-star, three-time World Series player, and more. He feels that he is nothing without baseball. His greatest joy other than baseball, are his next-door neighbors of six years: Max... his nine-year-old daughter Emma... and until three years ago, Max’s wife Lainey who was Jack’s best friend, who died tragically. Jack just wants nothing more than to be a normal guy, living in the suburbs with good friends and a sense of community. Oh, and a man of his own wouldn't be so bad either. He soon realizes that he’s in love with Max. He wants to belong to him and be a father figure to Emma. Wouldn't you know it... his first time falling in love, is with his very straight friend. Jack needs to be needed by Max and doesn’t know where he would be without it. Max and Emma provide Jack with the stability and family that he craves and give him relief from the pressure to be the best and relief from the isolation that he feels from so much time on the road during the season. The luxury of living freely "out" of the closet is not something that Jack can have...and he feels that he is suffocating. The story is clever and witty. Max is really funny at times with his dry sense of humor and sarcasm. Even when he’s miserable he’s still hilarious. The one thing that was really offsetting and brought the rating down for me...was the enormous shift in timelines as Jack and Max's relationship grew. We went from them falling in love...growing closer and then we're moved seven months into the future. About the time you think you're settled and moving along, we realize that we've come to the conclusion, which moves us ahead another sixteen years, making Max and Jack now 45 and 50 years old and Emma 25 and living a life of her own. It was a happy ever after ending but it just happened too abruptly, making the reader feel that they had been trapped in a time warp.

sep 17, 2:35 pm

The Confessions of Max Tivoli
Andrew Sean Greer
4/5 stars
In the early 20th century we meet Max Tivoli who was an unusual character. He was born in San Francisco but lived his life backwards. He started out as an older person and dies as a child. However, he falls in love with the lovely Alice, a beautiful woman who he meets several times in his lifetime, her never knowing that Max will always be in her life. Nicely written!

sep 17, 3:42 pm

Burning Bright / Tracy Chevalier
3.5 stars

When Masie and Jem’s (both teenagers) family moves from the country to London in 1792, they are fairly unprepared for big city life. They end up living next door to a man, Philip Astley (and his son), who run a circus, and another neighbour is poet and printer (publisher), William Blake. A fast friend (especially to Jem) comes in outgoing neighbour, Maggie. This is during the time of the Revolution in France, which does have an effect on the people in London.

This was another slow moving book, but overall it was good. It took a bit to learn the characters, especially with Maggie and Maisie – I think I had to sometimes stop and think for a minute every time one or the other was newly introduced into a scene. The story is mostly from Jem and Maggie’s points of view. Apparently Philip Astley was also a real person and created the first circus.

Redigerat: sep 23, 7:55 pm

Violets are Blue by James Patterson

D.C. Detective Alex Cross has seen a lot of crime scenes. But even he is appalled by the gruesome murders of two joggers in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park--killings that look more like the work of savage beasts than humans. Local police are horrified and even the FBI is baffled. Then, as Cross is called in to take on the cae, the carnage takes off, leaving a trail of bodies across America and sweeping him to Savannah, Las Vegas, New Orleans, Los Angeles . . . as his nemesis, the merciless criminal known as the Mastermind, stalks him, taunts him, and once again, threatens everything he hold dear.

Another good, solid read in the Alex Cross series that finally, finally solves the MasterMind mystery! Whew!

This slightly creepy thriller delves into the world of vampires, both of the blood-sucking type and the type known as "psychic vampires" when a series of murders occurs. These murders include bite marks and a young pair of brothers who were raised in a Santa Cruz commune and are now out causing mayhem and murder.

There is also a pair of magicians who use a white tiger (along with several other animals) in their magic acts, and they, too, have a vampire cult following. The question comes up time and again: are the two sets of murderers linked, and if so, how?

Detective Cross is putting back his life after Christine has left, with young Alex joining his family with Nana. And he once again is pulled into investigating this series of murders at the expense of time away from his family and broken promises. It's a chorus only too familiar to this smart, driven family man and his son, daughter, and grandmother Nana.

The ending takes some interesting twists and turns, and wow! is how it resolves in the end.

sep 18, 7:19 am

Quiet Strength- M. A. Innes - (Washington D.C.)
Strength Series #2
Genera: M/M Romance/Age Play/Daddy, little
The only part of Marcus’s future that’s clear is Eric by his side, it’s not fair to his boy to rush things... a Daddy should be able to provide for his boy. A looming retirement and a questionable future aren’t enough. Not when he wants to give his boy everything. When it comes to their relationship, Eric is ready to jump in headfirst. But how does Eric show his daddy that everything doesn’t have to be planned out to be perfect?

At the end of Silent Strength, book #1, Marcus and Eric had met and were beginning to build their Daddy/little relationship. Marcus with his calming and dominant personality had a profound impact on Eric, who found that he had never before been happier. The two begin to immerse themselves more and more into their roles, Marcus as the caring and nurturing "Daddy", and Eric as the "little" who thrives on his "Daddy’s" praise and attention, while sometimes, being a "little" brat. Eric’s earnestness is touching, making it so easy to love him. He wants to please his "Daddy" as well as make him proud. He is trying hard to overcome his biggest flaw, which is expressing his honest emotions and being willing to let down his barriers. We learned in book #1 that during his teen years he had a terrible, life altering experience in high school and his parents turned on him and sent him away to live with his Aunt Sylvia. Aunt Sylvia loved and cared for him, but the entire experience had scared him. He's now learning that his life is much easier when he places his trust in Marcus, who he knows would never hurt him, and to ask Marcus for advice on issues that trouble him...like his work, which stresses him out to no end. Eric finds he is the most content and the happiest when he drops into his “little” persona. Marcus is wanting to retire from the police force, but he doesn't want to retire from life. He wants to pursue something that Erik can quit his stress producing insurance job and the two of them can work at together. I actually saw the opportunity that was perfect before they started seriously looking at it. This book and the one before it Silent Strength intersects with M.A. Innes's "Bound and Controlled" series that she writes under the penname, Shaw Montgomery. I like revisiting characters that I have really liked from other books. A big "thank you" to this author for another book where guys like Erick and Marcus find their true, perfect partner...a partner that will love them forever.

sep 18, 12:45 pm

Hiroshima – John Hersey

First published in 1946, Hersey recounts the story of the first atomic bomb dropped on the city of Hiroshima, through the recollections of six survivors.

The tale begins with the residents starting their day on an August morning, completely unaware of the devastation to come. Hersey follows each of them through their initial experiences – digging themselves out of rubble, helping a child or neighbor, making their way to hoped-for shelter. Some were severely wounded, others had barely a scratch visible (though all were exposed to radiation). Some had to wait for rescue and medical treatment, while others worked tirelessly to help their fellow residents in the aftermath. Two of the survivors were doctors and two others profiled were religious leaders.

It's a gripping story, made more so by the personal accounts.

Some years after initial publication, Hersey updated the text to include more information about long-term effects on the six of their experience that August morning. Part of this section details the efforts of one of the survivors, in particular, to raise awareness worldwide of the horrors of nuclear war.

Redigerat: sep 19, 10:51 am

For Real - Alexis Hall - (England)
Spires Series Book #3
Genera: M/M Romance/BDSM
Laurence Dalziel is worn down and washed up, and for him, the BDSM scene is all played out. Six years on from his last relationship, he’s pushing forty and tired of going through the motions of submission. Then he meets Toby Finch. Nineteen years old. Fearless, fierce, and vulnerable. Everything Laurie can’t remember being. Toby doesn’t know who he wants to be or what he wants to do. But he knows, with all the certainty of youth, that he wants Laurie. He wants him on his knees. He wants to make him hurt, he wants to make him beg, he wants to make him fall in love. The problem is, while Laurie will surrender his body, he won’t surrender his heart. Because Toby is too young, too intense, too easy to hurt. And what they have—no matter how right it feels—can’t last. It can’t mean anything.

I really don't know how to rate this. I liked it and I didn't like it. It was so far out in left field from the traditional BDSM stories. It's a story about a fledgling relationship with a foundation that is anything that could remotely be called solid, between a 37-year-old doctor, who is a sub, and a 19-year-old Dom. Toby met Laurence, (Laurie), at a London club...and described him as the 'sub of his dreams". I think Laurence was the first sub that had ever kneeled for him, so Tobey's inexperience came to light fairly quickly. Oh, Toby knew what he wanted to happen but was almost clueless and uncertain, just how to accomplish it. Laurence Dalziel...the sub of Tobey's dreams, is what I would call a mess that has found somewhere to happen. He's bitter, unhappy, and still pining over a relationship that ended years ago. When he sees Tobey in the club, he isn't sure if the young man is even old enough to be inside a BDSM club...in spite of that uncertainty, he decides to try and help the “kid”. If anything, he wants to get him out of there because he really believes that he doesn’t belong. Once they get to talking Laurence is blindsided by an attraction he wasn’t expecting and offers Toby something that is priceless to those in this lifestyle...his total submission. This now turns into something that "rocky arrangement" only begins to describe. They have passion, lots of lust, care, dominance, submission, but not a shred of commitment. Then things appear to be shifting somewhat. Toby is so young that he literally wears his heart on his sleeve...but the word "shy" is nowhere to be found in his vocabulary...certainly not about how he feels or what he wants. It takes Laurence by surprise, and you can see that he isn’t in any way prepared to defend his heart from Toby’s selfless advances. I read a lot of this genera and I know that sex sells almost anything, but this story was built almost entirely on sex with no, or at least, not much, love in sight. I think the age difference was a great deal to blame as well as Tobey's lack of experience with his dominate side. It wasn't by any means, a badly written book or a bad storyline...it just didn't come across like I think the author wanted of the characters.

sep 20, 8:10 am

The Secret Plan - Cara Dee (Washington D.C.)
The Games series Book #10
Genera: M/M Romance/BDSM
Forty-five years on this planet. A prestigious career as a fighter pilot. A wonderful relationship with Lucas—nine years and counting. Decades of experience as a sadistic Daddy Dom in a community he’d helped start. And those corn-fed Texas genes too. Damn right, Colt Carter reckoned he was entitled to be assertive. Not a whole lot could rattle his cage. Except Kit Damien, the young brat who’d turned Colt’s and Lucas’s lives upside down in the best ways the past six or so months. The two Daddy Doms had finally found their "little" forever. But when Kit confessed to having certain fantasies, Colt had to admit, in some ways, he was still a beginner. Good thing Santa was on his way. Santa knew exactly what to say. He was also a stellar partner in crime when the brats of Mclean House were up to no good and making secret plans for their holiday party. Ho, ho, ho. Are there any naughty boys in the house?

This is the 10th book in this series, but not the first to circle back and revisit a relationship that had been previously developed. I really like that Cara Dee does this as it gave the readers that love this series and look forward to each new installment, the opportunity to know that just because there is a "happy ever after" doesn’t mean that that story is over, or that we'll never see the "star" of that story again. In this one she's thrown in an "age gap" also letting one of the partners be still at the beginning of their journey, and we know that that often means that changes are sure to ensue. We get to meet Kit again...the young man that we first visited with back in book #1 Top Priority when his "Daddies", Lucus and Colt, were first realizing that even though they loved one another...they needed more...they needed a "boy" and Kit was it for them. The first couple of chapters gives us a quick glimpse at what to expect from the rest of the story. Cara Dee allows us to see Kit growing and thriving within both his relationship and as a part of the larger Lifestyle community. This is a holiday story, so it's not too heavy on the angst and it’s Colt’s turn as the dominate character. Colt has Lucas and Kit to show him that his concerns can be a source of potential enjoyment, not fear. I liked that we also saw almost all of the familiar faces from the past 9 books, at the holiday party that really is the heart of this story. The 'vanilla' aspects of the party, including the sweetness of the gift exchange, is nicely balanced with the inevitable shenanigans that occur when you mix almost 20 loving "kinksters" with enough seasonal liquid cheer. Though this book primarily follows up with Colt, Lucas, and Kit, we get teased with her next story star...Macklin, who is slowly becoming a real character rather than just a background presence that happens to own a restaurant. Oh...and there is a final tease that Cara Dee leaves us with at the end of this story. I bet die-hard fans will figure it out. This series is not for everyone...not even those that loves M/M Romances. It's entirely based on the inside happenings in a BDSM club, and the Tensley twins that own it. The characters are not just "once in while" visitors but are heavily invested into the Lifestyle.

Redigerat: sep 20, 5:08 pm

Can you get a copy of What Darkness Brings by C. S. Harris? Because I have an extra copy I can mail you if you give me your address.

sep 20, 4:54 pm

>68 EadieB: I'm good. I can get it on Hoopla both in audio and ebook. Thanks for making the offer.

sep 20, 5:08 pm


sep 21, 11:38 am

The Postscript Murders – Elly Griffiths
Digital audiobook narrated by Nina Wadia

This is book two in the series featuring Detective Sergeant Harbinder Kaur, but it can easily be read as a stand alone.

A 90-year-old woman is found dead by her caretaker. It’s a peaceful scene; Peggy Smith’s body is sitting in her usual spot – a chair by the window where she liked to watch the goings on of her neighborhood. But Natalka, an immigrant from Ukraine, gets suspicious when she finds a stash of crime novels, all dedicated to Peggy, “murder consultant.” Then an armed intruder arrives as Natalka and her friend are trying to clean up Peggy’s flat, and, at gunpoint, steals one of the books, and the author of the stolen book is shortly found murdered! So, the case gets the attention of D.S. Kaur.

This is NOT a cozy, as there is a true detective at the center of the investigation, but Natalka and two cohorts (Benjamin, a former monk who runs the local coffee shop, and Edwin, Peggy’s 80-year-old neighbor) run a sort of parallel investigation that (mostly) helps Harbinder solve the case.

I really enjoyed this. It’s not a traditional hard-hitting detective novel, nor is it a sweet and quirky cozy mystery. Instead it is a brilliant composite of those subgenres. I liked the relationships between these characters, how they came together and pulled apart; how they countered one another’s theories, and supported each other’s efforts. And I liked learning something about Harbinder, a gay 30-something detective, who still lives at home with her parents. I want to know more about her.

I also rather liked the supporting cast of Natalka and Benjamin and want to know more of their story, but from what I read of the synopses of the other two books in the series, they don’t appear again. Spin off?

As for the main reason I like mysteries … I was kept guessing right to the end, and that’s a good thing. This is the first book by Elly Griffiths that I’ve read. It won’t be the last.

Nina Wadia does a find job of narrating the audiobook. I don’t think I’ve heard a narration by her before and I’m impressed with her talent for voices. I’ll have to look for more of her audios.

sep 21, 9:41 pm

>71 BookConcierge: Oh, funny! I just finished (and will likely post my review tonight) the first in that series!

sep 21, 11:13 pm

The Stranger Diaries / Elly Griffiths
4 stars

Clare is a high school English teacher and has a teenage daughter, Georgie. Clare works at a school where a short story writer used to live. Clare is quite obsessed with this writer, R.M. Holland, and his gothic short story, “The Stranger”. When Clare’s best friend, and fellow English teacher, Ella, is murdered, there are parallels to “The Stranger”, including a note left behind with a quote from the story. Things become even stranger when someone starts writing more quotes in Clare’s diary!

I quite liked this. It was slow moving (as gothic stories tend to be), and I considered rating it just a bit lower, but the end definitely caught me by surprise! The book was from multiple different points of view: Clare’s, Georgie’s, and Harbinder Kaur, the main detective on the case. I was least interested in Harbinder’s POV; unfortunately, that’s where the series will continue, but I’ll give the next one a try, anyway. I’m not a big fan of “stories within a story”, though, so I tended to skim over the excerpts of “The Stranger”. I paid a bit closer attention at the end of the book when it was written out in full, however.

Redigerat: sep 22, 8:06 pm

Apex Predator - Cara Dee - (Florida)
The Games series Book #11
Genera: M/M/M/M Romance/BDSM
Pack your sunscreen and strap in for a wild ride and a kinky vacation that doesn’t go as planned. Lane Sawyer had no complaints. Not really, anyway. After all, he’d just been invited to spend a week down in sunny Florida with his amazing boyfriend Macklin and some of his kinkster buddies. That was exactly what Lane needed. Uncomplicated fun and the promise of no drama—and hopefully a close encounter or two with the apex predator of the Everglades, the Burmese python. He loved, loved, loved reptiles. But Florida was home to more than one apex predator. When Lane arrived, he found himself face-to-face with their host for the week, his high school girlfriend’s dad. The man who’d once made Lane realize he was into men. Macklin McKenna couldn’t wait to get away. The problem was, he needed a vacation from himself more than DC. But maybe a week in South Florida with his friends and his adoring boyfriend Lane could distract him from the fact that he was never getting over the man he was still technically married to. Unfortunately, Macklin’s friends were fed up with his personal agony, and they’d ensured another apex predator was on his way down South. The Game Series is a BDSM series where romance meets the reality of kink. Sometimes we fall for someone we don’t match with, sometimes vanilla business gets in the way of kinky pleasure, and sometimes we have to compromise and push ourselves to overcome trauma and insecurities. No matter what, one thing is certain. This is not a perfect world—and maybe that’s why the happily ever after feels so good.

Again, we have a meeting of some of the players in the previous Game series books, and we meet a new one. Ty Madison invited several of the couples down to his Florida home. Lane comes along with Macklin who he has had somewhat of a relationship with the past few years. Lane loves reptiles and is very good caring for his snakes, turtles and lizards but a vacation sounds prefect so off he goes with Macklin to south Florida. He and Ty have met before, but Ty doesn't remember the circumstances...just that Lane seems to be familiar, Lane, however, remembers very well and has to work to keep the old secret from the guy he fell for almost immediately. I don't think it would have been a big deal as it had happened so long ago...but that's our Lane. Better safe than sorry. Lane and Ty feel an immediate attraction but they limit their interactions to working together to keep some of South Florida's scale covered "Apex Predators" under control...instead of the two-legged ones that are on their way from McClean House to join the party at Ty's, These predators that Ty and Lane are hunting are introduced species that are overflowing the region as the result of people, buying "pets" that will grow up to 25 to 30 feet and can weight more than their owners. This is for real information that the author has made part of the story... and as a biologist, I thank Cara Dee for taking the opportunity to use this story to point out just how destructive these "thrown-away" pets can be. We also see Mackin working on having a reunion with his husband, Walker, that he hadn't seen in ten-years. I won't say how that reunion turned out, but book #12 will cover Mackin & Walker's story in full. This is a great story and part of a really addictive series. I hope that this author will just keep adding books to it since I'm almost at the last book. On to book #12.

sep 22, 11:43 pm

The First Four Years / Laura Ingalls Wilder
4 stars

This is the last in the Little House series, looking at the first four years of Laura and Almanzo’s marriage. They homesteaded during this time and tried to get a farm going, and they had a daughter, Rose.

This was published after Rose’s death. The book was an unfinished manuscript. I still really enjoyed it, even if it wasn’t as Laura would have published it if she’d ever taken time to finish it. There were still plenty of brilliant descriptions of things. During the four years, their farm (at least the crops) never did flourish, though they did well with their animals. The weather (as it often is with farming) was the culprit – hail, a tornado (or cyclone, as Laura called it), drought, fire. Also blizzards in winter factored into their lives, as it did with anyone on the prairies. I have a beautiful “full color collector’s edition”, which has very nice glossy colour illustrations.

sep 23, 10:30 am

The Bride and the Beast - Teresa Mederios - (Scotland)
Genera: Romance/Fairy Tales
The bride is Gwendolyn Wilder, the only maiden in a Scottish glen where most of the time virginity is only a memory at 15; the beast is Bernard MacCullough, laird of the glen who has returned to his broken-down castle to find out which of the villagers of Ballybliss betrayed his parents to the English. Bernard has kept his people away from Castle Weyrcraig by pretending to be the “Dragon.” He and his best buddy, Tupper get their provisions by sending threatening shopping lists to the village. The mention of "innocent blood" in one message leads the frightened glen folk to tie Gwendolyn to a stake in the castle courtyard, in case the Dragon has a taste for virgins...which seem to be in short supply in the village. Bernard cuts her down and gives her room and board. He’s afraid that if he lets her go, she’ll reveal and upset his plans for revenge. As the Dragon visits her under cover of darkness, so that she won’t recognize him, Gwendolyn falls in love with him. I guess scales don't bother her all that much. He doesn’t seem to mind that she’s a bit on the chubby side. He likes her curves, her spirit, and her intelligence, which also seems a bit lacking in this village. Before she gets a chance to offer him her virginity, though, the villagers return to slay the Dragon themselves. To save Gwendolyn’s life, Bernard reveals himself to his people. Heartbroken when she learns that her "sexy beast" (her word) ...is just another guy, she's angry, disappointed, relieved, all, in equal measures, then she rushes home, where she has spent much of her life tending to her mad father, who the traitor Bernard has been searching for. When he learns her secret, Bernard tells Gwendolyn he’ll spare her dad if she’ll marry him. After an awkward few words and a couple of chapters that they declare their love, and Gwendolyn's virginity, or now lack of, is no longer a problem, the couple move quickly to happy-ever-after. I've read some of Teresa Medeiros' "witchy" romances which she does really well. Fairy tales, dragons, and virgins????...not bad but not really her best.

Redigerat: sep 23, 1:22 pm

Got Me Hoping - Casey Cox
Narrator: John Solo
Vet Shop Boys Series Book #1
Genera: M/M Romance
It's just a one-night stand, they said. It'll be simple no-strings fun, they said. They. Lied. I'm done with love and being broken-hearted. The only dogs I want to deal with are the ones I treat in the veterinary clinic I work at. But at 34, having my first one-night stand can't hurt. Right? The rules are pretty simple. 1. Don't spend the night. 2. Don't see him again. 3. Don't share anything personal. 4. Don't fall in love with him. But when Haze, the guy I spent a blazing hot night with and haven't been able to forget about, shows up as our new receptionist, the rules fly out the window. There's no way one night could lead to anything more. So why has Haze got me hoping this might just last?

It's a cute, sweet story with two very lovable guys, Haze and Noah. Noah's advice from his friends was doomed from the first date/one night stand, with Noah. It was only meant to be just that...a one-night stand...nothing more. By the next morning Rules #1 & #2 were out the window, #3 was hanging by a thread, and #4 was starting to not look too good either. Noah was trying to not let his heart get broken again so he thinks this is it...the end...on to the next guy...but then to his surprise he finds that his new receptionist at the vet clinic is.... you guessed it...none other than Noah. Noah's Dad almost tipped over the apple cart when his producer friend in California offered Noah the second in a movie he was making. I held my breathe on the that one. You knew from the first meeting that these two were meant to be together. The birthday party that Noah arranged for Haze was a tear producer. Haze's Mom had died just minutes after he was born, so birthdays were also a sad event for him...until Noah. I'm going to listen to book #2 next...maybe it will be just as good or even better...It's Got Me Hoping!

Redigerat: sep 23, 10:44 pm

Murder Past Due by Miranda James

Everyone in Athena, Mississippi, knows Charlie Harris, the good-natured librarian with a rescued Maine coon cat named Diesel that he walks on a leash. Charlie's returned himself to his hometown to immerse himself in books, but soon enough he's entangled in a real life thriller. A famous author of gory bestsellers and a former classmate of Charlie's, Godfrey Priest, may be the pride of Athena, but Charlie remembers him as an arrogant, manipulative jerk--and he's not the only one. Godfrey's homecoming as a distinguished alumnus couldn't possibly go worse: by lunch, he's put a man in the hospital. And by dinner, Godfrey's dead.

It has been a while since I've read a book in an afternoon, and this was just the book for it. Guess that's why cozy mysteries are such a hit!

In a small college town, Athena, Mississippi, Charlie Harris has moved back to his hometown and now lives in the home he inherited from his beloved Aunt Dottie. He is the new Athena College library archivist and the proud adopter of an abandoned Maine coon cat named Diesel. Charlie takes in boarders from the local college, one of whom is a freshman and the son of a friend who never left the town, Judy.

The action starts with another Athena local, Godfrey Priest, a renowned author of horror novels who is coming in for a book promotion tour. He was also a bully to his classmates. Including Charlie. So when Godfrey comes into Charlie's office, makes a gift of his notes and works, and drops a bombshell of some personal information, Charlie sees a different side of his former nemesis. And then Godfrey is murdered, so the murder mystery and solving begins.

It is a challenge for Charlie to navigate this murder, since he is by nature an inquisitive sort, and he early on runs into challenges with the Deputy assigned to the case, Kanesha. Not only is she a black woman in a predominately white male position, she's also the daughter of Charlie's housekeeper, Azalea. Sparks fly towards the end of the book, and my guess is that Charlie will be a much greater help in the next murder investigation. And besides, how many cats are a help in solving murders?

sep 23, 10:42 pm

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend / Katarina Bivald
3 stars

Sara is from Sweden and has been writing letters to Amy in Broken Wheel Iowa for a while now. They share a love of books and reading. When Sara decides to visit Amy, she arrives to find that Amy has passed away! But the townspeople in this small town know all about Sara coming to visit and are very welcoming to this (their only) tourist! They invite her to stay and won’t even let her pay for anything. It gets to a point where Sara is bored and decides to open a bookstore (which is not allowed on her visa, but she is not being paid, either; she just wants something to do).

I listened to the audio and this was ok. Pretty slow moving and I did lose focus at points so didn’t fully follow some of the townspeople’s activities and even missed who some of the people were. The book references were fun, and it’s a cute story.

Redigerat: sep 27, 8:06 am

The Neverending Story by Michael Ende

Unicorns, dragons, sprites, will-o'-the-wisps: the inhabitants of an enchanted world. And into this world--through the pages of an old book--ventures Bastian, a lonely boy of ten. But Fantastica is slowly decaying, its Childlike Empress dying. Only a real human being can set things right by giving the Empress a new name. Bastian takes up the challenge, and finds himself crossing the Swamps of Sadness and the Silver Mountains, meeting sorcerers and giants, bats and night-hobs, gnomes and racing snails, as he journeys bravely towards the Ivory Tower.

I read this in the mid-80's, after the movie and song came out, and again this year for a book challenge. I remember not feeling very connected to it then and I can see why now: there is a piling-on of characters, peoples, and adventures in Fantastica that seems over-done. This may be in part because every chapter begins with a different letter of the alphabet, and Ende has to keep the story moving.

While the first half of the book is Bastien's adventures getting the book, reading the book, and Atreyu's journey, the second half, starting with the letter "M," goes into Bastien's decisions and wishes and his darker side. The idea that a children's book would start by taking the child into the realm of Fantastica, save the Childlike Empress, encounter different beings and lands, then delve into what happens when one makes selfish decisions is a good one.

Probably a book that should be a bed-time read for a young person, pre-Tween years, conveying the wonder of Fantastica and lots of creatures with the teaching of what happens when we wish for bad things and act out of selfishness.

sep 23, 10:52 pm

Birds of Prey: Terrifying Talons / Joe Flood
4 stars

This is another graphic novel in the kids’ series “Science Comics”. This one focused on diurnal raptors/birds of prey (owls are also raptors, but they are nocturnal, so are not included in this book). Some things described in the book include their various body parts, what they hunt and how, how they fly, mating, and loss of habitat and human threats (like DDT, which of course, was banned in the early 70s), and probably more I’m forgetting at this moment.

These are so good with so much information. I’ll never remember even half of it probably, but it’s done so well, and the (colour) illustrations are beautiful. Even simple things I probably should have known like what characteristics distinguish a raptor. It was interesting to see the close-up illustrations of the birds, like their beaks and talons to distinguish, as I am never likely to see that in person! I am enjoying this entire series so much.

sep 23, 11:06 pm

Plague! Epidemics and Scourges Through the Ages / John Farndon
3.5 stars

This is a very short picture book aimed at kids. It discusses various major fatal diseases and epidemics throughout history, including the “Black Death”, various plagues, cholera, yellow fever, Spanish flu, smallpox, typhus, and more.

The colour illustrations are done very well and the information is provided (it’s meant for a young audience) is short tidbits. It’s a very fast read. One interesting thing I learned why doctors used those scary looking bird masks when dealing with the plague. I mean, I “get” why a mask, but why with long beaks…? Now I know.

sep 24, 9:52 am

Prowl, The Game series - Cara Dee (Washington D.C.)
The Game Series Book #12
Genera: M/M/M/M Romance/BDSM
What do you do when you come home from a vacation that changed your life? Walker McKenna was finally back with his husband and beloved submissive, Macklin. They had their work cut out for them, and they were ready. Walker had spent four years trying to get over the love of his life, and it just wasn’t happening. He couldn’t go back to that life-sucking void of an existence. But that didn’t mean his new path was paved with roses and unwavering confidence. When the ghosts of past hurt and insecurities grabbed hold of both men, Walker had to go on a hunt once more—and this time was different. This time, he found support in a new friend. A man with a fresh take on life, devilish charm, and a mission of his own. Ty Madison returned home to DC and the blizzard of the year. He had one goal. To make Lane his—permanently. Ty couldn’t just write off the insane week they’d shared down south as a vacation fling. They belonged together. But before he went after the young man, who had his reasons for avoiding attachments at all costs, they had a storm to weather, and Ty found himself alone in his house with Walker. A man with insight, incredible charisma, and troubles of his own. Maybe some missions were best executed as a team.

Most of this series can easily be read as standalones, but this novel is the second in a duet with Apex Predator (The Game #11). It continues the stories of the second-chance romance between Macklin and his estranged husband, Walker, and the potential new love story between Lane and Ty. Macklin and Lane are dating and have no plans to change that. This might all sound terribly complicated, but Cara Dee is excellent at balancing relationship dynamics while still getting to the heart of the love stories that readers turn to romance of any genera, for. What I really liked about this book, and actually all the books in this series, is that none of the books are the same. They do have some of the same characters wander through all the stories, but each book is devoted to the two or three men, that the story features. They are told in a fluid and nontraditional way with a "happy ever after" for any of Cara Dee’s characters. The vacation we saw played out in Apex Predator, (Book #11), is over and the four guys are returning to their “real world” and have never found it to be more difficult. Walker and Ty are determined to “keep” Macklin and Walker as their men, and we see two more traditional guys turn into a burgeoning friendship...the most vanilla relationship in all the 12 books. It's not by any means a complaint; her character work is so well done that we often find things that might be unexpected, actually working. It’s adorable as well as perfect for these men. The twist that takes place here almost throws a wrench in the works for Macklin and Walker though. However, the difference that Lane and Ty are in the picture is a real joy for everyone in the story. A bit of warning for those that are not really into the BDSM scene...Prowl is one of the spiciest, but least overly kinky, in this entire series. However. it remains true to the continuing theme. We also get to take a heart-warming return to Mclean House as renovations after the fire, near completion. There are also some fantastic cameos from the author's other interconnected series...a real treats for we loyal readers.

sep 25, 8:09 am

The Haunting in Barry's Lodge - Annie Walters - (England)
Genera: Paranormal/Horror
This was a quick, but engaging story with settings that are very typical of what the reader would anticipate with a "haunting". A ghost story for the "Ghost Story Junkie" to curl up with. Our main character, Alfred, is an aspiring author who has been trying to write a book for many years. Due to his familial responsibilities, he winds up doing odd jobs without making any real progress with his book. When his father-in-law suggests that Alfred spend a week at an isolated motel where he would have less if no distractions, Barry’s Lodge, he thinks this is the perfect opportunity that he needs. He plans for a week without disturbances...that should give him enough time to come up with a draft. Little does our Alfred know that Barry’s Lodge has a deeply disturbing past, and he quickly realizes it as it doesn’t the lodge doesn't allow him even a moment of peace. There's zero connectivity, strange noises and even stranger sightings, Alfred’s agitation is so strong that he just wants to leave the place, but he soon realizes that he may not EVER be able to. The story in itself, is a typical ghostly horror tale. Unhappy ghosts, (is there ever a happy one?), strange noises and horrifying sights, and the living occupant's inability to escape. The writing style was okay, but it could have been better. Heaven knows I am no expert author...but I am a polished reader and I know when the words grab me and pull me completely into the story...this one did some of the time...but not the entire time. I found myself adding in my head what could have been said on the page. The narration was always in the third person and the story line became predictable. It is an absorbing read, and its quick, which gives it no room for unnecessary details, which I found to be a point in its favor. The description of the lodge and its surrounding is very well done. This book would be a perfect read for a rainy weekend. I wouldn’t describe The Haunting of Barry’s Lodge as a fantastic read, but it did manage to keep me engaged. I would call it a decent read for horror lovers and all "Ghost Story Junkies" like me.

sep 25, 9:46 am

Exiles by Jane Harper
368 p. - ★ ★ ★ ★

Aaron Falk has been asked to be a godparent to Greg Raco's son. The baptism was supposed to be held a year ago, but was postponed due to the disappearance of Raco's brother's ex-girlfriend Kim Gillespie. Her new husband was dining with his parents, Charlie - Raco's brother - was working his stand at the community's wine festival, and Kim's new baby was found wrapped up in her stroller at the entrance to the festival. One year later, her 17-year-old daughter that she and Charlie share, makes an appeal at the festival, looking for new information into the case. As Aaron and Raco examine the evidence and talk with Kim and Charlie's friends, they uncover old crimes and unresolved tensions.

A good mystery! I had one of the old crimes figured out and the guilty party in Kim's disappearance was on my suspect list. I've really enjoyed Aaron Falk as a character.

sep 25, 10:03 am

>73 LibraryCin: That IS a funny coincidence. I haven't read the first book ... yet.

sep 25, 10:05 am

>79 LibraryCin: I also thought "Broken Wheel" was okay. And I also listened to the audio.

But the audio was terrible. Started off with a British accent ??? Shouldn't that have been American or Swedish? And then when she got to Iowa, the narrator gave all the Iowans Southern US accents! SOOooo wrong.

But I DID enjoy all the literary references.

sep 25, 10:06 am

Razor Girl – Carl Hiaasen
Digital audio performed by John Rubenstein

I love reading Hiaasen’s ridiculously crazy plots, featuring the NOT-tourist-friendly Florida. In this romp, former cop Andy Yancy (now demoted to inspecting restaurants for health violations) is joined by a cast of eccentrics including: Merry Mansfield (a delicious redhead who specializes in staged fender-benders done while she is shaving her nether regions); Buck Nancy (star of a reality TV series); Martin Trebeaux (owner of a company that steals sand from one beach to replace erosion on another); Brock Richardson (Miami lawyer hooked on a product he is litigating against); and a possibly psychotic street person known as Blister.

The action is fast, furious, and totally insane. The bad guys are frequently three cards short of a full deck. The women almost always get the best of the men. Hiaasen has a gift for drawing this reader into his wildly improbable plots. And I enjoy the ride every time!

John Rubenstein does a great job of performing the audiobook. He has a lot of characters to deal with and really shines when voicing the bad guys.

sep 25, 10:57 am

The Old Man and the Gun: And Other Tales of True Crime
David Grann
3/5 stars
Interesting book on true crime! There are three stories of crime in this book. The first one was The Old Man and The Gun which was made into a movie with Robert Redford. True Crime and The Chameleon were next. The second story was just okay but I really enjoyed the The Chameleon and The Old Man and The Gun. Crime

sep 25, 4:13 pm

The Burning Boy - Nicol White -(Ireland)
DI Vincent Swan series Book #3
Genera: Mystery/Suspense/Police Investigation
It's Dublin in 1986. Kieran Lynch, an off-duty Guard officer is found dead in Phoenix Park, a notorious hot spot for homosexual gatherings. Irish Police Force Officer Gina Considine has to decide whether or not to tell her fellow guards that she had seen and spoken to Kieran outside a gay community Center the same night. It would be certain to reveal her own sexual orientation to her boss, DI Swan and her fellow officers. They have all always had a good working relationship and Swan thinks very highly of his young assistant. She comes across as an intelligent and dedicated officer in the team and, as the only woman, has to put up with a considerable amount of stereotyping, that is just short of bullying, from her male colleagues. As Swan and Considine go about working to discover the circumstances around Kieran’s murder and learning what people he had associated with before his death who might throw light on what occurred, readers learn more about the personal lives of Considine and the DI which has until this, the third book in the series, has only vaguely been touched upon. It had not previously been known that Considine is a lesbian or that Swan’s marriage has been on rocky ground. In this book Swan and his wife separate after his cat dies. What is particularly interesting in this story is that the author seems to focus so much more on the private lives of Swan and Considine but leaves those of the people they work with unexplored. When the others are mentioned, we learn that they have wives or girlfriends who are not spoken about very highly...I would call them "shadow people". The author's depiction of Dublin, the streets and the areas Swan and Considine visit in the course of their investigations will no doubt appeal to anyone wanting a better understanding of this city. The author also acquaints us with Kieran’s eccentric family, his home, which is a large mansion located on a steep rocky outcrop of land above the seashore. There is an unexpected familial links to people Swan and Considine are attempting to track down for questioning. In the conclusion we are no further ahead and actually feel that we were left hanging. Considine is still grappling with her feelings and speculating on her loyalty to the force...which I also began to question.... but we have to remember that the book is set in in 1980's and probably says much about the attitudes that prevailed in Ireland’s police force, as well as elsewhere during that time.

Redigerat: sep 25, 9:53 pm

>87 BookConcierge: Agreed! The accents were all odd/just straight-up wrong!

I would have expected Sara to have a Swedish accent.

sep 25, 10:57 pm

All Things Slip Away / Kathryn Meyer Griffith
4 stars

Artist and widow Abby has been living on the town of Spookie for a year or two now (?). She is good friends with retired detective, Frank. When a local girl who works at the grocery store disappears, the town is on edge. When a little mud clay doll appears, Frank knows it’s a serial killer, whom he thought he’d killed 10 years earlier in Chicago, back to kidnap and murder again. This time in Frank’s small town.

I really liked this. There were parts from the killer’s POV, and honestly, most of the time when that’s included in a book, I don’t find those parts interesting, but that was not the case with this book. I was also engaged in those parts. The book takes place throughout the Fall including Halloween and up to Christmas, so it felt like a “nice” (well, as nice as serial killer mysteries go!) Fall read. Have to admit, though, there was more than once where I said to myself – call the police! Don’t do these things yourself (and that includes “talking to” Frank – he’s not a cop, anymore!). This was the 2nd book in a series, but to be honest, I remember next to nothing of the first book, so I would say you don’t need to read the first one first.

sep 26, 7:28 am

Beautiful and Terrible Things - Riley Hart
Genera: M/M Romance
Beautiful and Terrible Things is a beautiful look at a love that endures the worst of circumstances and survives because of how hard the two men fight for it to do so. There is heartache...but so worth it. Inevitable, inescapable, unavoidable, love. Joey and Gage have been best friends since they were six. Then, they were something more than friends. The boys realize they are each other’s entire worlds, but only Joey realizes that he’s gay and that he is in love with Gage....always has been but didn't know what to call it. It’s more than ten-years before Gage realizes that he’s bi and also has feelings for Joey that go way beyond friendship. The boys grew up without mothers, and both with neglectful and abusive fathers. Their similar family dynamics helps to create a bond that draws them closer, and along with their good friends, Mouse and Romeo, they make their way through high school. They just have to make it until graduation then they can get out of town and escape their fathers. "But for the best laid plans of mice and men"...it doesn't happen. The most extraordinary night of their lives turns horrific in a moment and shatters Joey and Gage irrevocably. It’s ten years before they run into each other again and it's just by chance. After a rough start, it’s apparent that establishing a friendship is a certainty.... they’re meant to be in each other’s life. Neither man knows if he can move forward beyond friendship. Joey is closed off emotionally from almost everyone except Mouse and Romeo. He seeks out physical pain to dull his emotional pain. He believes he wasn’t strong enough as a teen, and as a result, their lives were ruined. His childhood dreams for the future died long ago. Joey doesn’t think he can ever allow himself to care about anyone ever again...not to open up and certainly not to love. Gage has been working to rebuild his life...a life marked by loneliness and despair. Like Joey, he’s hasn’t been in a relationship since they were together. For Gage, caring will always quals loss. Gradually they learn that they need to take control of their lives if they really want a future together. The payoff for enduring the tough parts is the sweetness that exists between Joey and Gage. They are both extremely likable and sympathetic characters. This is a "second chance" story at its very best. We are given a view at the end of the book 5 years after Joey and Gage reunite. Everything is not roses by any means but they're working on it and most importantly is they're doing it together.

sep 26, 12:48 pm

Beautiful Chaos- Riley Hart & Devon McCormack
Genera: M/M Romance/Mental Illness
TRIGGER WARNINGS: Mental Illness, Domestic Abuse & Kidnapping
It's an amazing book about mental illness, domestic violence and kidnapping, and I warn any reader that it is very dark, but also extremely thought provoking. We have Silas Rizner who has agoraphobia as the result of a horrible and unspeakable violent event that happened to him as a young adult. He is literally a prisoner within his own home, shutting out the rest of the world, except for his one and only friend, Dyna. Dyna is the only person he trusts to enter his house. Corey Marshall moves in next door and attracts Silas’ immediate attention. Corey has fought his own demons for as long as he can remember. He lost the only person who ever truly loved him...his mom, when he was eighteen. The only other person to show him attention, almost killed him during a domestic violence situation. Now he can barely get through his daily life. He vows to never let anyone close to him again as he believes on a deep-down level that he doesn’t deserve to be loved. He daily gets release from physical pain and that is always too short lived. When these two men become attracted to one another we have to wonder how can anything possibly work? I've read Riley Hart for a long time, and I have to say that this has to be one of the darkest stories I have ever read, and I am still not entirely sure how to write this review. This story has stuck with me. I had to admire the way that it deals with mental illness in such an honest way. I had read that the authors worked with two psychologists and a therapist to make sure they got it right, and actually had them read the book for authenticity purposes. Silas and Corey have both dealt with some of the most horrific things that can be done to someone by another person. It makes you wonder how anyone could survive all they have been through and even still function. They no longer have anything resembling trust left in their lives, yet they know that they need to find some way, or what life that is left to them won't be worth living. The story deals with the aftermath of extreme violence. This book will certainly not be for everyone, and I strongly advise a future reader to pay attention to the "trigger warnings" at the beginning of this review. If you decide to read it you will find that it is one of the most touching stories you will ever read, showing just how strong the human spirit is and how it can rise above anything no matter how hard. Simply, it's the story of how love can, and does, survive.

sep 27, 7:05 am

The Carlswick Affair - SL Beaumont - (England)
The Carlswick Mysteries Book #1
Genera: Mystery
Stephanie Cooper is 18 years old and about to begin her studies in history at Oxford. Since she doesn't know when she will have the time again, she decides to spend her summer break with her grandmother at the old family home in Carlswick. While she is there, she meets James Knox, the lead guitarist in an indie rock band, who is also a part of a family that is involved in a seventy-year-old feud with the Coopers. Stephanie and James initially hit it off, but when she sees a painting in the library at the Knox estate that she recognizes as a piece of stolen Nazi art believed destroyed in WWII, their relationship takes a dive leading almost to rock bottom. Things go from bad to worse as she begins to suspect that James' older brother, Alex, is smuggling art, and then matters become worse when she learns that her father is also somehow involved. The Carlswick Affair is a mystery that has potential as it follows Stephanie as she investigates not just the possibility of art smuggling but also into the death of her great-aunt Sophie, seventy years earlier and is somehow related to the painting in James Knox's house. The story starts out slow but picks up pace fairly quickly. The problem that I encountered, and that lost the story a star, was with the characters mostly. As I said, the story itself was good, but would have been much better if Stephanie had been slightly older and the boyfriend, James had been more mature and if the author had had him throwing temper tantrums and sulking all over the place like he was 5-years old.

sep 27, 3:42 pm

Dressed in Desire - Quinn Ward - (Virginia)
Club DeSire series Book #1
Genera: M/M Romance/Daddy-Boy
Maverick lives in a close-minded town where he feels he can never really be himself. He likes makeup and dressing pretty, but he couldn't have any of this where he was living. He had to find a more accepting place to live even if it meant leaving his best friend, Tanner, behind. He met some friends online and
they invited him to stay with them and even offered him a job at one of the clubs that they were opening. At the club...Club DeSire, he meets John. It read like they had met before, but this is book #1...so if it's true, it must have been in another series. John is a straight guy that's working construction on the new club with a couple of friends. John knew the type of club it was and had no problem with it, even if it wasn’t necessarily his "thing"…but he didn’t expect a gay club to be a problem, nor did he expect to run into the guy he couldn’t get off of his mind to be there. The author does a great job of bringing John and Maverick slowly together...allowing them to explore a bit of what each of them needed. Maverick wasn't a "little", but at times, he showed some "little" kinks...which John had to not only find out what in the world was happening with Maverick, but how to help and provide for his "boy". Those little surprises and tidbits were half the fun of the book. Poor John...had a lot to work out and to learn about a lifestyle that was a foreign to him as the surface of Mars....like how to handle his new role as a "Daddy" with this boy, and what to tell his brother's biker club that was after him to join them. He didn't think that his new role was going to go over too well. John made a lot of mistakes in the beginning.... Maverick had some doubts that he had done the right thing, but the two guys knew they loved one another, and that they would find a way to navigate their new life so that what they ended up with felt right and real for them....and that was all that mattered.

sep 28, 12:11 pm

Silver Screen Fiend: Learning About Life from an Addiction to Film
Patton Oswalt
3/5 stars
Actor/Writer/Standup Comedian Patton Oswalt talks about his love of films and that he had seen three times a week through the nineties at the New Beverly Cinema. Interesting! Books About Film and Television

sep 29, 7:42 am

Understanding Desire - Quinn Ward - (Oregon/Virginia)
Club DeSire series Book #2
Genera: M/M Romance/BDSM/Daddy/Boy
The story was interesting and well written, but I was a bit surprised that it seemed to take up right where book #1 left off...lucky that I had read book #1 or I would have had many "what the heck" moments:) I even checked to see if I had accidently bought book #1 twice, although that is a bit difficult to do on Amazon since they throw up a sign that tells you when you bought a book if it was bought from them. This book frustrated me from the start. How in the world can you have a relationship, much less a successful one, entirely by long distance? I realize that there are circumstances, like military service and family crisis's that put a relationship temporarily on a long-distance plan...but deliberately...and what seemed like forever? Even by the end of the story, Tanner and Ryan hadn't moved any further along.... not one inch. With that one big issue, this, for me, made the story incomplete...not to mention the ending.... that was it...the ending...it, well...just ends. Ryan is a "Daddy" in need of a boy. It seems that was his main reason to stay away from Tanner, (??). That made no sense to me either. That made about as much sense as trying to go swimming without getting in the water. Ryan had money invested in Club Desire...his kink and his club were important to him...yet he didn't even visit Ryan or his club, not even once. I love good BDSM books, and I know that they don't all take place where you would expect the kink to be practiced, but if you had invested money in a place wouldn't you at least go make sure that it still has four walls and is still standing?? I just felt that a lot of things were left out and some left hanging in this one. I liked the story enough for 3 stars, but if Quinn Ward wanted us to Understand Desire, she missed the mark here...and that is also a surprise with this author. She's good writer and I have really loved all her books.... but with this one that "feel good feeling" just never really came.

sep 29, 1:53 pm

The Last Thing He Told Me / Laura Dave
3.5 stars

Reread via audio. I read this the first time as an ARC about 2.5 years ago (and gave it 4 stars at the time).

Summary from the first time I read it: “Hannah has been married to Owen for two years. Owen had a daughter previously, Bailey, who is now 16-years old. One day, Owen just doesn’t come home again. He sends a note to Hannah that just says “Protect her”. As Hannah hears on the news, the owner of the company Owen has been working for has been arrested and charged with fraud.”

2023 reread: I only remembered how it started, with Owen disappearing and leaving Hannah the note to “Protect her”. I thought I remembered the very end, but not quite – not how we got there. And I had it slightly wrong, anyway. In any case, this time around, listening to the audio, I found it a bit slow to start and (maybe I missed the reasoning), but I found it odd that Hannah would figure out to head to Austen to go looking for Owen, or answers. I actually didn’t like the way it ended; personally, I didn’t think she made the right decision on that.

sep 29, 3:23 pm

The Code Breaker – Walter Isaacson
Book on CD read by Kathe Mazur and Walter Isaacson

Subtitle: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race

This is an engaging, interesting, informative, and thought-provoking biography cum history. While the focus is on Jennifer Doudna, Isaacson gives almost equal time to the many other researchers who contributed to the scientific discoveries and applications.

The book starts out with basic biographical background, moves into the excitement of discovery and the international race to obtain patents, and to publish first, then on to ethical questions surrounding the application of new technologies, and finally focuses on the ways that these teams of scientists worked to address COVID19.

Isaacson frequently puts himself into the narrative, writing in first person about his encounters and reactions.

The audiobook is narrated by Kathe Mazur, with an introduction and epilogue narrated by Isaacson. I was happy that I had the text handy because there are times when reading a passage helped me understand the science better than listening to it. But Mazur is a very talented voice artist, and she really did a magnificent job.

sep 30, 1:39 am

West Heart Kill / Dann McDorman
3.25 stars

Adam McAnnis is a detective heading out for a weekend to a college friend’s hunting lodge. It’s the 1970s and the people who are members of this lodge have known each other pretty much all their lives. When a storm hits while they are there, blocking any way to or from the lodge, people start turning up dead.

I thought this was clever. My synopsis is the actual mystery part, but much of the book was done in different styles. That is, much of the book was told directly from the author to the reader, breaking the “fourth wall”. We went off on various tangents talking about what might happen, traditionally (or not), at various parts of a mystery story. Also, there were tangents that focused on classic mystery authors and stories. Again, I thought clever and very different.

I also thought the atmosphere was done well – I definitely pictured the ‘70s hunting lodge: all brown wood paneling with hunted animal heads on the walls and such. But, I also found it quite “literary” and a bit dry. I certainly didn’t care about the people. I did, however, like the twist near the end – that, I definitely didn’t see coming. I also liked the way things were revealed at the end. Again, the author changed the way he was telling the story, and this time, it was done in the style of a play. I didn’t mind all the different things going on in how it was told, but I guess there was a lot going on that way. Mostly because I found the story quite dry, I am rating it “ok”, but with an extra ¼ star for the uniqueness of the book.

sep 30, 1:31 pm

Locked in Silence - Sloane Kennedy - (Minnesota)
Pelican Bay series Book #1
Genera: M/M Romance
I have only recently discovered Sloan Kennedy and have to say that I am hooked on anything that this author writes. This one is an engaging story about second chances and forgiveness. What made it even better for me was the story setting at a wildlife sanctuary. It provided a really great addition to the book and sets up a fun world for the characters to explore. The story is told in multiple points of view, with each character having a unique voice and their own obstacles to face, some more heartbreaking than others. The writing is smooth and really makes the story easy to follow, while still allowing the reader to experience lots of emotion. It's fast paced so it's a really quick read. I read it in one sitting, but everyone has their own reading speed and I often read books in one day. Loved the characters...everyone from the two main guys, Nolan and Dallas to all the backup characters. Nolan is a bit dramatic, and has a habit of jumping to conclusions, but their complexity and their struggles are what make the entire story incredibly satisfying, and their "Happy Ever After" is nothing short of perfect.

okt 1, 6:40 pm

The Maidens by Alex Michaelides

Edward Fosca is a murderer. Of this Mariana is certain. But Fosca is untouchable. A handsome and charismatic Greek tragedy professor at Cambridge University, Fosca is adored by staff and students alike - particularly by the members of a secret society of female students known as the Maidens. Mariana Andros is a brilliant but troubled group therapist who becomes fixated on the Maidens when one member, a friend of Mariana's niece Zoe, is found murdered in Cambridge.

Talk about a book that takes you to unexpected places! Based in Cambridge University and partly in London, the multiple murders are as difficult to figure out as the potential suspects and their motivations. And the landscape is so integral to the fictional St. Christopher's College that it, too, becomes another character.

Mariana is a widow of a year, missing her dear Sebastian, when she gets a call from her adopted niece attending St. Christopher's College. Zoe's close friend has been murdered at the point of a knife and Zoe needs some consolation. Mariana is trained as a group therapist and cancels her sessions for a while to handle her remaining family member. One of the group members does not take it well.

Once Mariana makes it to St. Christopher's she is certain that she knows whom to blame for the murder of this young woman and the others who follow. The problems come when she interferes with the investigation, as one would expect, and mainly from the head constable who takes an immediate dislike to Marianna and her prying questions.

The most obvious choice for a suspect is Professor Fosca, whose class study group is named "The Maidens." It is his students who are being murdered, but then there is the strange Fred who shares her initial train ride, and then maybe her disgruntled former patient could be the murderer. I did become a bit impatient with Mariana for several reasons: she is so stuck, both in the past and in her decision of who the murder suspect has to be. She brings people into her life with no idea where they fit, but her bad choices also make her more human.

So, no more clues. It is a fascinating read, an investigation of dysfunctional family dynamics and how they affect the adult, and a true page turner with a shocking ending.

okt 1, 9:29 pm

Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

Oh my gosh. I decided to finish this because it was not too long, but holy cow. It is nothing like any of the movies which is what I had hoped to glean from it. I had seen the silent "Phantom" again over Labor Day weekend and was very intrigued by the origins of the Phantom. The labyrinth under the famous Paris Opera house used as torture chambers? Had to go find out what happened, and how the Phantom became who he was.

But I did not find it, sadly, in the original book.The melodrama! The misogyny! The gasping for breath! The clutching of bosoms and of shedding tears for one's beloved! I mean, I do like me some good Victorian-era literature, and certainly get that it was a much different time for expressing one's views, but wow. This little novel has withstood time because Lon Chaney. And Andrew Lloyd Webber. And a chandelier.

The best part of this book was towards the end when The Persian tells the story of Erik (the Opera Ghost) and how his face was ugly from birth, he was rejected by both his parents, learned ventriloquism as an act in traveling circuses in Europe and Asia, and became a monster famous for mirrored rooms and trap doors. Still, that final expose does not make up for the bulk of the book. Christine and her beloved, Raoul, being discussed as children was really beyond what I could deal with.

Glad I read it, and glad it's going back to the library.

Also, this edition does not list the translator, sadly.