3.5 star review

Review – Let it Ride by Vivian Arend

Let it Ride
by Vivian Arend

I received an ARC of this book from the Publisher, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

He’s her rock in the midst of the storm
When Maggie Ward’s world is torn apart by sudden tragedy, the only thing that makes her days bearable is Clay Thompson’s unwavering presence. He’s protective, caring, and everything she could ask for in a friend. But when she finds herself longing for more than friendship, it will take a little seduction to convince the stubborn mechanic she’s ready to start living again.
She’s his heart, whether he knows it or not
Clay Thompson’s got the taking-care-of-others business down pat, only he’s never faced this particular challenge before—the one woman he’s always wanted is unexpectedly his to care for. Suddenly it’s not just responsibility driving him, but a wild desire to make Maggie truly his. But following his heart might mean sacrificing the family he’s held together for years.

This is book 3 of the Thompson & Sons series, which is actually a spin-off from the Six Pack Ranch Series. You can read the Thompson & Sons series without having read the 6 Six Pack Ranch series, but I highly recommend both series because it paints a picture of the community life and the familial bonds when you put it all together.

Let it Ride has elements of second chance romance and friends to lovers. It is a good story, there just really wasn’t enough of it. Maggie and Clay were friends in high school and possibly headed toward more, but when his life imploded with the death of his mother, and he stepped up to keep his family together, they drifted apart. Years later Maggie is back in town when tragedy strikes, and Clay being the big brother and stand up guy, he is there for her.
There are just some really lovely parts to their story, and some undeniable conflicts. The one in particular with his father was heart wrenching. It was believable that a man who hasn’t stopped mourning his wife might feel some negative emotions toward someone who is willing to live and love again after tragedy. That part was believable. Some people might find the speed of Maggie and Clay’s relationship problematic, but honestly I didn’t. Where it broke down for me was in the speed of the resolution. It was a small let down though in what was otherwise an enjoyable book with characters I rooted for. 3.5 stars
3 star review

ARC Review – Hot Alphas by Lora Leigh, Laurelin McGee, Shiloh Walker, Kate Douglas

Hot Alphas
by Lora Leigh, Laurelin McGee, Shiloh Walker, Kate Douglas

In Erin’s Kiss by Lora Leigh, ex-Marine Turk has become Erin’s sworn protector. The consistent target of her CIA-operative brother’s deadly foes, Turk is the only port Erin has to cling to in a storm. He promised her brother long ago never to touch her—but how can he resist a woman who aches to be with him as much as he burns for her?
In misTaken by Laurelin McGee, Jaylene Kim is a strong independent woman whose feminist values run deep. Even though attractive men are her weakness the last thing she wants is one telling her what to do. Until she meets her mysterious new neighbor. He makes her realize that you can still be strong and relinquish control . . . in the bedroom. But as their passion consumes them both Jaylene isn’t so sure he is who he says he is.
In Burn for Me by Shiloh Walker, Tate longs to spend his nights with Ali, a woman he’s loved for years. But while Ali’s heart pines to be with Tate, her head has reservations. Ali knows that Tate has never forgiven his father for the fight he had with his mother right before she left the house—and was never heard from again. Tate’s unresolved anger is a force to be reckoned with . . . but the heat that blazes between them is undeniable. Now both Tate and Ali are left to wonder: Can love really conquer all?
In Tangled by Kate Douglas, Nate shows up to work at Tangled Vineyards ready to do all the things he loves best—work with his hands, grow the grapes, and craft award-winning, full-bodied wines. But when something better comes along in the form of Cassie, the winemaker and former owner of the vineyard, Nate becomes completely love-drunk. Getting involved with Tangled’s number-one mixologist is a bad way to start off a new job, but with Cassie as a constant temptation, Nate doesn’t stand a chance…

I received an ARC of this book from the Publisher, via Netgalley, this does not affect my opinion of this book or the content of my review.

Erin’s Kiss-Once upon a time I had a love affair with Lora Leigh, I devoured everything she ever wrote, then devoured it all over again. I even remember the other Wounded Warriors stories, and I remember really enjoying them. Especially Cooper’s Fall. So after reading Erin’s Kiss, I went back and reread that one. And I still really enjoyed it, it’s sexy and over the top, and it kind of owns it. Even Sheila’s Passion was pretty good. Erin’s Kiss just fell flat for me, it was kind of bland. Even the overriding story arc in this series was bland. You could probably read this as a standalone because the connection to the series seems fairly superficial, but you’re definitely going to know it is part, of a series.

misTaken, is an awkward blend of feminist diatribe and feminist apologetic. Noah was cute and socially awkward and not at all an alpha. I rather enjoyed this character, but he didn’t seem to fit the Hot Alpha theme. Perhaps Jaylene was meant to be the hot alpha? Then we get the diatribe by her about how worthless romance novels are, fairy tales for “Basic B—-es” and the total dismissal and disgust of anyone of anything that doesn’t fit her notion of feminism, yeah, that’s going to endear me. I get that it is likely meant to be tongue in cheek and aggressively to one side of the position to show a dramatic change, but it is highly irritating, and foreshadowing much? Yeah, I saw that plot twist coming from a mile away. The whole thing was like a social parody or essay even, and it took me completely out of the story and the characters. Presumably Jay’s two friends will also be getting their own stories, but nothing about this one made me want to keep an eye out for them.

Burn for Me-While I don’t exactly understand a woman that lets a relationship she isn’t happy with just coast for three years, I really got into this story, I dig couples who communicate. The couple was sweet, the mystery was interesting, and the cozy feel of the town and characters all made me want to read more. With this short format, maybe I don’t entirely buy the sea change in the hero’s emotional outlook, but I enjoyed it all anyway. I’ll be checking out the other books in the series.

Tangled-This story has sort of a sad start, then Cassie and Nate sit talking like old friends and hop right into bed. I wasn’t expecting to like this, with that sort of start and the co-workers angle, but Kate Douglas has a way about her. So instead of a strict workplace romance conundrum, we ended up with quite a mystery for such a short story. The relationship was obviously almost ridiculously rushed, but I enjoyed it anyway.

This is not the strongest anthology I’ve read in a while, but on the relative strengths of Burn for Me and Tangled, I’m giving it 3 stars.


Thoughts and Opinions

Making room in my budget for books: Part 2

Reading, especially if you are voracious, can be a remarkably expensive hobby. I wouldn’t trade it for anything, but I am perfectly willing to find ways to make the cost less onerous, or to squeeze money out of other parts of my budget. So here’s a run down of most of the things I have included in my day to day habits to help finagle my finances.

OpenLibrary is a free online library open to quite literally anyone with an internet connection and the ability to use AdobeDRM. Handy tip: never get the epub, always stick with the PDF. The selection is bizarre, but there are some true out of print gems in there.

I’ve also finally renewed my library card and am using Overdrive. My library’s selection is hit or miss, but a book I don’t have to pay for is a different book I can purchase some other time. And an online library is a library that doesn’t require pants, which is always a bonus.

I also started using apps and online printable coupons. There were quite a few on that last post, but I have added a couple more.

For Texas specific residents who shop at HEB, there is now an app, and there are digital coupons. A few key things to remember, when you buy something that you have a digital coupon for, if you also give them a paper coupon they will ALWAYS default to the paper coupon, even if it is worth less. Also, this means no doubling of store and manufacturer’s coupons. However, and this is key, HEB does some really cool things with their coupons, like $2 off an $8 purchase of produce, or meat, or seafood. There are even coupons for things like bread and milk. So there are coupons for things you almost always buy but almost never get coupons for. Pairing the app/digital coupons with the email newsletter ones has resulted in some pretty incredible shopping deals. I have to eat, but at least now I don’t have to spend quite as much. Plus, it has a grocery list feature and lets you add things to your list from the sale ads. It doesn’t let you add things to your grocery list from the coupons list yet, nor does it take you to the coupons directly (grocery IQ is better for this), but if you add an item that does have a coupon it will highlight it to let you know you can go “clip” that coupon.

The other new app I have added is Shopkick (disclaimer: that will link to my referral code). This is an odd app and I had been resistant to getting it. Basically, you get points for walking into stores that offer “kicks”, for scanning specific items, and for linking your credit card and purchasing from specific stores (this last one I have not done). There is not an amazon giftcard option or a cash option, so you can’t directly buy books with your savings, but it is a relatively painless way to earn giftcards for stores like Macy’s, Starbucks, or a variety of other places.

So this is where I’m at in the budget finagling. Anyone else have any suggestions?

3 star review

Advance Review – Day Shift by Charlaine Harris

Day Shift
by Charlaine Harris

I received an ARC of this book from the Publisher, via Netgalley, this does not affect my opinion of this book or the content of my review.

There is no such thing as bad publicity, except in Midnight, Texas, where the residents like to keep to themselves. Even in a town full of secretive people, Olivia Charity is an enigma. She lives with the vampire Lemuel, but no one knows what she does; they only know that she’s beautiful and dangerous.
Psychic Manfred Bernardo finds out just how dangerous when he goes on a working weekend to Dallas and sees Olivia there with a couple who are both found dead the next day. To make matters worse, one of Manfred’s regular—and very wealthy—clients dies during a reading.
Manfred returns from Dallas embroiled in scandal and hounded by the press. He turns to Olivia for help; somehow he knows that the mysterious Olivia can get things back to normal. As normal as things get in Midnight…

This is the second book in Charlaine Harris’ Midnight, Texas Series. I enjoyed Midnight Crossroad, but had some concerns at the aims for the series.

And I think I was right to be concerned with the aims. While there were flashes of brilliance, and elements that I enjoyed in this book, great big old chunks of it seemed like nothing more than backlist baiting. We have one very popular character of a former series who has shown up with what appears to be a retconned back-story and completely stripped of any of his former personality. (As an aside, due to events in this story it is apparent Harris has decided that the Dead But Not Forgotten book of stories is not canonical-which I find insanely frustrating.) And a second character from that series also made an appearance but it seemed contrived and not anything that couldn’t better have been handled with someone in this series.

I enjoyed seeing more of Manfred, and I definitely enjoyed getting to know Olivia (she’s so delightfully morally ambivalent). And Fiji, Chuy, Joe, and the Rev were very integral to the story and we were able to see more of their character’s hidden facets. Bobo was more of a side character this time, as was Lemuel, and that is okay because trying to make everyone take center stage would have made this book even more scattered than it turned out to be. I think Ms. Harris might be struggling with a series that doesn’t just have one or two main characters. And Manfred’s mystery was overall very entertaining as was the side plot involving the new business in town. There were some “what were you thinking?/why aren’t you thinking?” type moments with Manfred and Olivia, but they usually acknowledged those and corrected. But a third shoehorned in mystery was just too much and done for no real purpose that I can see at this time.

Finally, the book just sort of ended. Only one thing was resolved, and the rest was just left hanging. I suppose it is to set up for the next book, but really it felt abrupt and unfinished and I kept paging back and forth looking for the rest of it. I’ll probably try to catch this at the library to make sure there isn’t something that was fixed for the publication from the ARC.

Overall, I am rating this 3 stars, but bottom line-get it from the library, wait for paperback pricing, or cost share with a friend.

If you enjoyed this review, please consider “liking” it on Goodreads or Amazon.

News, Thoughts and Opinions

Because no one should be harried and bankrupted for having an effing opinion.

Right now in Nevada, legislation is on the table that would effectively strip anti-SLAPP protections, which is one of the few things that stand in the way of honest people being punished unfairly for having a dissenting opinion. This affects every aspect of our public lives, whether you’re doing the reviewing (even on something as basic and ubiquitous as Amazon) or trying to find reviews on something you’re considering purchasing. Reliance on the public review process is already fraught enough with the surge of paid for positive reviews, and stifling negative reviews even further can only be a detriment to the consumer. So even if you never write reviews yourself, stop and think about how many reviews you’ve read and how they’ve affected your purchasing. There are plenty of other aspects that would be affected besides reviewing, but it’s the aspect that’s closest to me. And, I could probably pontificate for a while on this, but plenty of people have already done it better.

Her Hands, My Hands

Marc Randazza

Jacob Sullum

Ken White at PopeHat

Mike Cernovich

If you like free speech and the free market, this should concern you. Not all states yet have anti-SLAPP legislation, and rolling back one of the stronger examples isn’t going to help matters any, so even if you don’t live in Nevada, this affects you too.