3 star review

ARC Review – Hoodoo Blue by Katalina Leon

Hoodoo Blue

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

Book Blurb

Fredi is a passionate witch with a scorching hot secret. Every time she has a sexual thought, green fire blasts from her fingertips. Gus is a gorgeous lycan who scares women away with his wild wolf-shifts. Not the best way to find relationships.

Both have vowed not to date until they get themselves under control, but a witchy friend thinks differently. The pair get tricked into sharing a frosty pitcher of “Hoodoo Blue” and fall prey to a wayward love potion that has them blurting out every lustful thought. Worse, it won’t allow them to walk away from each other. They’re stuck together until dawn under the devilish effects of a time-released hoodoo that makes them do outrageous things. For everyone’s safety, Fredi is forced to take Gus home and tie him to her headboard and only some very witchy lovemaking can calm the storm.

Fredi and Gus might find themselves on the set-up date from hell, but even a hilarious cascade of disasters can’t keep a plus-sized blonde witch with attitude, and a hunky lumberjack of a lycan from seeing the other would be the perfect mate.

This is a fun, snappy little paranormal romance, but instead of a meet-cute, we have a meet-disaster. Neither Gus nor Fredi thinks they are in the right place to date, but a good-hearted friend with a penchant for mischief and spell casting gone awry thinks otherwise. And when the spell goes on, the brakes on the brain and the lips definitely goes off. There’s some rather fun repartee and some sizzling smexing, followed by a sweet happily every after. :Sigh: I just adored Gus, he’s too precious for words. The only reason I am not rating this higher is that some of the dialogue and the inner monologues were a touch clunky and in a few places, repetitive. But overall it is a fun read and I am rather interested in finding out what kind of hi-jinks Estele is going to get herself into when it is her own love life on the line.

Buy Links

Amazon | Kobo | iBooks | All Romance | Goodreads

Excerpt

(Fredi and Gus just met in the Voodoo Hoodoo cocktail lounge. Sparks fly. Now they need to get away from each other ASAP)

…Sid stood in front of the booth blocking her retreat. “Leaving? Not so fast. Here’s your pitcher of Hoodoo Blue, mixed special for you. I know that rhymes.” He winked as he set a frosty pitcher filled with what looked like a turquoise slushy on the table and placed two heavy glasses paired with pink straws beside it. “Enjoy.”

“Thank—“ Fredi stopped herself and raised a palm in apology. “I won’t say it.”
Sid smirked and walked away.
Damn Fae. With his sly green eyes, he always looked like he was up to no good.

She stared at the frosty blue beverage with suspicion. There was a lot of drink there—more than enough to get several adults schnockered. No doubt sneaky Sid mixed it strong, too. “There’s no way we can finish all of that. I really shouldn’t stay.”

Gus reached out and stroked her hand with a whisper light touch that brought her to a halt. “One drink. We’ll talk a little and I promise I’ll let you go. I have no business hanging around either. I need to get home, or take a run in the hills….”

“Why run to the hills?”

He heaved a tense breath. “To get a little wiggle room between me, civilization, and full- blown Lycanthropy high jinx. You’re a witch. I’m sure you’re familiar with what I’m talking about.”

She shrugged. “I’m sorry. I’m not sure what you mean. I didn’t grow up around many Lycan. I was raised in San Buena. Wolf boys usually aren’t part of the surf and shore scene. They head for the forests.”

“Wolf men,” he corrected her. “And you’re right Lycans prefer the woods to sandy beaches, but you must have heard something?” He settled his big frame uncomfortably on the vinyl seat.

“No.” She shook her head. “Nothing. I really don’t know much about the Lycan community.”

Gus’s expressive brows drooped. “You must have heard that during a full moon Lycans have a bad reputation for getting a little too aggressive, hairy, and—“

“Horny? Okay, I have heard that. I thought you might offer something a little more obscure, like you had to wear red shoes and skip through the hills searching for four-leaf clovers or something stupid like that.”

“Nope.” He looked terribly uneasy. “Nothing fancy. I have to stay away from the ladies. I don’t want to offend or bother anyone who’s not into Lycans, and it can be a challenge to control myself, especially around a woman like you.” His thick brows creased so strongly they almost met. “Strike that. I should not have said it.”

Author Info

Katalina Leon is an artist and author who can’t commit to a single genre. Her favorite playgrounds are historical, Sci-fi, contemporary, and most of all paranormal realms. Katalina brings a sense of adventure and a touch of the mystical to erotic romance. She believes there’s a daring heroine inside every woman who wants to take a wild ride with a strong worthy hero.

Author Links

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

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News

Two weeks with a Kindle Paperwhite.

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After my poor Nook Simple Touch Died, an early adopter who’d upgraded, saw my distress and very kindly donated her old Paperwhite to my cause. So, here are my thoughts.

1. I am really enjoying not having to go through the extra steps to side load things when I purchase from kindle.

2. The light is less noticeable than I suspected it would be, on the very lowest setting (you can’t turn it all the way off without hacks) there are just a few angles or positions where it is irksome.

3. It is also a benefit, because at night if I wander off and leave it somewhere, I can turn off all the lights and find it from the glow.

4. It is also way easier to check out books from Overdrive/library.

5. I still miss the side page turn buttons.

6. I’m struggling to get used to the menu set up and the fact that taping the middle of the screen doesn’t bring up said menus.

Now that I am in, I will probably never get out again, and unless Google comes out with an actual eink tablet (please do that Google, I’m ready to gorge until I die on a Scribd subscription), I will forevermore be a slave to the Kindle ecosystem.

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2 star review

Review – When an Alpha Purrs by Eve Langlais

When an Alpha Purrs

I received a copy of When an Alpha Purrs in a contest from Book Loving Pixies. And I absolutely agree with Tracy, I read Eve Langlais for the humor, and was waiting to get this book until it fit my budget. So, I was completely thrilled to win a copy. Thanks Pixies!

A lion’s pride isn’t defined only by those he commands but also resides with his hair, so when a human dares to butcher Arik’s mane, he gets his revenge—and claims her as his mate.

A billionaire CEO and leader of the largest East Coast pride, Arik is a ladies man and a lion. Used to commanding others, and obedience, he can’t believe it when a hairdresser with tempting curves chops off a hunk of his precious mane.

But her biggest mistake is in running from him.

Run as fast as you can, little mouse, because this cat loves to chase—and pounce.

Oh, and he also likes to nibble on tender bits. What he doesn’t expect is to fall for a human woman, a woman who can make the impossible happen because everyone knows lions can’t purr…until now.

Now onto the review:

Continue reading

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4.5 star review

Book Review: Bryant & May and the Bleeding Heart by Christopher Fowler

The Bleeding Heart

By Christopher Fowler

Usually, I am not one to pick up a book by an unfamiliar author unless someone I trust recommends them. I took a leap of faith this week and checked out Christopher Fowler’s Bleeding Heart, after the local librarian suggested it. I could not be happier with her recommendation! Fowler has quite the bibliography under his belt with several standalone novels and a long running series centered on a specialized detective unit in London. The PCU, or Peculiar Crimes Unit, helps to protect the citizen of London from crimes, which may otherwise cause fright or distress. There is a team of investigators that handle these crimes, usually unbeknownst to the majority of Londoners.

Bryant & May and the Bleeding Heart is the eleventh or twelfth installment in Fowler’s Bryant & May series. I could not find where this distinction was mentioned, but after looking at Fowler’s website, I realized it had not been updated with this title. Even though I had no previous knowledge about Detectives Bryant and May, I did not feel lost picking up this late in the sequence. At various points throughout the story, there were hints and minor remarks made to events I can only assume took place in the earlier books, but it did not affect this specific storyline. The investigative nature of this plot gave many opportunities to understand the inner workings of the detectives’ thought processes. Bryant is a little unconventional and often looks outside the box during the investigation. These alternative methods included trips to see a self-proclaimed witch and a magician, amongst other adventures. He also consults bizarre books that date back centuries to find connections to this modern crime. May, on the other hand, is more of a “by the book” detective who doesn’t give much credence to the dark arts and mythologies. He is an anchor of sorts for Bryant and helps to keep him out of trouble with the higher-ups. These old-timers are sticking together to make their way in a changing city, the only way they know how.

Fowler is very skilled in his character development, without being drawn out or excessively wordy. A great many number of conclusions can be made based solely on the features of an individual’s appearance, their home space or even working environment. These nuisances truly connect the reader with the characters. If I can get my hands on some of the earlier installments, I would love to see how the main characters have evolved from the beginning up until this current title.

All in all, if asked if I would recommend this title it would be a hands down yes. The only draw back that I experienced were the differences between American and English English. Some of the spellings, phrases and terminology threw me, but after a few chapters it wasn’t as noticeable. So, grab a cuppa and check out Bryant and May!

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1 star review

Outlander: A book report by a grown woman

outlander

Warning: Contains spoilers and rape discussion. You’ve been warned.

When my lovely friend Erin asked me if I wanted to review Outlander by Diana Gabaladon, I screamed like a dying horse, and agreed in the most nonchalant way possible. Then I realized that I’d have to look at the book with a more critical eye than

“OMG, he took that kilt off, and they SMOOSHED”!

But, then I came to the conclusion that she wouldn’t have asked me if she expected scholarly…or coherent. I’m who you go to for belligerent, hysterical fangirling.

I was introduced to Outlander by a friend who described the book as being “inspired by an episode of Doctor Who, and there’s men in kilts…EVERYWHERE”! Enough said. I was sold. She must have been a salesman in a previous life. I found this book to be more Game of Thrones than Doctor Who.

Claire Randall is on a second honeymoon with her husband of six years, Frank. They’ve only spent two months of real time together. The rest was spent apart during war, but now it’s 1945 and it’s time to lose them drawers. They’re in Scotland, so Frank can do some research because nothing says honeymoon like research. Pace yourself, tiger. (fans self)

After visiting some Scottish Stonehenge  in the middle of the night (without good ole Frank) she trips the light fantastic, and is thrown back in time, landing on a soft cloud of loin devastating kilts.

The sex for the first half of the book was handled a la Greek tragedy. It all happened off stage left somewhere. Where, I presumed it happened without incident and everyone enjoyed themselves for how vague it was. But I will say that I understood the author’s intent. With Frank, it was to keep you from being invested in him as a love interest. Once Claire began her sexy relationship with Jamie she slowly introduced more details as their relationship grew. Very creative use of writing to withhold an emotional connection, and then to foster one later on. Applause all around. Very well done.

Now, I have a bone to pick with Ms. Gabaldon. Her overuse of the words “dirk” and “gorse” drove me insane. At one point I literally invented a drinking game where I took a drink every time I read either word. I almost couldn’t finish reading the book and had to go to bed. She stops the over usage after about page 400-ish, but until then it is almost unbearable.

I have tried to stay away from spoilers for those that haven’t read the book that are planning to read it, but I must discuss one more thing. There is a lot of discussion of rape. Almost rape to be exact. Which, is not necessarily a problem for some, but it was a problem for me. I didn’t enjoy it, and I didn’t find it see why she needed it in the book to show Claire’s vulnerability, or the vicious barbarity of the time frame. Just my two cents. Then, there is the rape of Jamie by Jonathan Randall. I can only describe it as viciously brutal, with such psychological savagery that it left my stomach upset well after I had laid the book down. I understood that it was vital to the books plot, but I still did not enjoy reading it, and this is my warning to anyone else who finds such things disturbing to put this book back on the shelf. It’s not for you.

I will repeat that this is a well written book, it is unfortunately not my cup of tea. I would not read it again, nor will I be reading the other books in the series. The author is repetitive, and uses certain themes that hit me the wrong way. While I could discuss those, I think they’ve been better stated by far better writers of reviews on this particular book. I’ll let you read those instead of repeating the same sentiments with less succinct words.

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Miscellaneous

Adventures with BitLit: Part 1

BitLit Visualizer

If you haven’t already heard of it, BitLit is an app/service where you take a “shelfie”, and it catalogs your books, and then whatever books are offered by their partners, you can get a free or deeply discounted digital copy. You MUST be willing to write your name in your book in order to be eligible for this digital copy. It is a really cool premise, and the owner (or at least the public face guy) is incredibly nice. I am not quite finished with my cataloging, as I have an embarrassing number of books. But here are some things to think about when you are taking your shelfie. Learn from my mistakes.

1. If you have a ton of books hidden in dressers and in boxes in closets rather than actually on shelves, you will have a hard time.

2. If you have you shelves willed double and triple up, you will have a hard time.

3. If your shelves are deep and the books are pushed back into them, you will have a hard time.

4. If the lighting in the room is not great, you may have a hard time.

5. If you have intention tremors, you will have a hard time.

6. If you get impatient, you will have a hard time.

7. If you are not wearing pants while working on this, you may have a hard time because if anyone sees you, they (ie my husband) will probably mock you. (That may not apply to everyone)

How NOT to have a hard time?

1. Be as organized as possible and plan to do this in stages. And have distinct staging areas so you can easily transfer the books from one spot to the next, and maintain a modicum of organization.

2. & 3. Neaten and straighten your shelves, bringing the books you are taking “shelfies” of to the very front of the shelf so all the spines are flush. If you have hundreds of books, you are probably like me and they are not all on shelves. They will have to be at least temporarily shelved to make this process work.

4. Add extra light if needed. As a side note, your phone or tablet must have a flash camera for this to work.

5. Take breaks between the photo shooting, as I said, plan to take this in stages.

6. After taking shelfies of all the books you currently have set, up, WAIT. Don’t mess with the app, don’t tell it to re-categorize. Don’t do anything. Give it plenty of time to sort things. When it tells you it is done, REFRESH the app. maybe even do that a couple of times. Then, go through and verify that all the books are labeled correctly, and that they are in fact labeled at all. Give it time to update those.

7. Transfer all labeled books to the next area and stage the next batch of books. Pants or not, if someone is watching, you will probably be mocked for this part. Repeat the process as needed until all books are cataloged.


So far I have 455 books labeled and cataloged. I did it messy, so now I have to take my list and reconcile it and catch the books that I have missed. For my library at least, I seem to be running at around 10% digital discounted availability, which is pretty good. Most of them are 7.99 or 6.99 books available for 1.99. How many I’ll actually purchase is anyone’s guess, especially since books that I have kept are favorites and I am fairly sure I have already purchased some of them digitally. In any event, I am all for novel ways of combating pirating, and for me personally, reading paper is is no longer practical.

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5 star review

OpenLibrary Review – Cry No More by Linda Howard

Cry No More

Cry No More (which is available at OpenLibrary) is one of those books that makes me cry ugly tears every damned time. Oddly enough though, while it is one of my favorite books, it is also one of those books that I often don’t think about or remember until someone or something reminds me about it, and then I just have to re-read it. Others have said it better than I can, but I’ll do my best to show what makes this book so special/important to me.

1. This is the first romance novel that made me cry, and it wasn’t just crying, it was ugly crying. Those last chapters still just kill me.

2. This was the first novel that made me understand the allure of the emotionally detached and/or amoral hero. Diaz was just cold and had a serious lack of social skills. I loved him any way, he was fascinating and real in a way the prince charmings or alphaholes I’d read up until then simply weren’t, and was in a package that made me able to read the book and root for the couple. If you’ve read the now viral article, Things I’ve Learned About Heterosexual Female Desire From Decades Of Reading:

It’s really good when a man could hurt you and maybe spends a lot of time hurting other people but makes an exception in his hurting-people schedule for at least one woman he doesn’t hurt, but he could if he wanted to, only he doesn’t, so it would be great if he murdered everybody except for you and didn’t murder you even a little bit.

Yeah, this was the first time that kind of character worked for me. For better or worse, Linda Howard and Diaz were my gateway into heroes who weren’t “good”, and without this, there are so many heroes I adore today that likely never would have made any sense to me otherwise. Like Kaleb, Vasic, or even Aden (to an extent).

3. This was the first romance novel I can remember that had frank discussions between the two protagonists on safe sax, birth control, and blood tests. While this came out after Open Season (another book I adore and which has excellent realistic sex scenes and the funniest condom scenes I’ve ever read), it took several more years before Open Season came into my possession. And it didn’t take me out of the love scenes at all; it was touching and in character. This is the book that made me start questioning all the unsafe sex and obsession with going condomless “just because” that is so ubiquitous in romancelandia.

4. This was also the first book I ever read that used technical anatomical terms instead of being completely purple prose. And guess what? The world did not end, I was not shocked and I don’t even think I noticed it on the first read through even.


So those were all my “firsts” with romance, and the book would be special enough for me with just that, but the story itself was amazing, heart breaking, and the mystery and villains actually made sense. It is twisty, and turny, and dark, and violent, and emotional, and tender. It has characters you root for even when they aren’t “nice” or “good”, characters who break your heart. All the things you want and need from romantic suspense. This book may not be perfect, but it is probably one of the best romantic suspense I have read, and I highly recommend it. 5 stars

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