Deacon by Kit Rocha

Ana has trained most of her life to achieve one goal: to prove that anything men can do, she can do better. Now she’s Sector One’s first female Rider, and being the best is the only way to ensure she won’t be its last. Distractions aren’t allowed–especially not her painful attraction to the reserved but demanding leader whose stern, grumpy demeanor has already gotten into her head.

Deacon has spent the last twenty years trying to atone for his past, but the blood he spilled as a mercenary and assassin will never wash away entirely. If his Riders knew the extent of his sins, he’d lose their trust and respect. It’s easier to keep them all at arm’s length, especially Ana. But his newest recruit’s stubbornness is starting to crack his defenses.

And their sparring matches are driving him wild.

The passion sparking between them can’t be denied, but neither can the vengeance barreling toward Deacon. When his old squad comes back to punish him for his betrayal, Ana and the Riders are squarely in the line of fire. The only way to save his people may be to make the ultimate sacrifice.

But first, he has to convince Ana not to follow him straight into hell.

I have to admit, I was not looking forward to Deacon.  If you remember, I wasn’t overly fond of Ashwin, published earlier this year.  Boy oh boy am I glad that I decided to keep going with this series.  Where Ashwin gave us a more detailed look into Gideon and his Riders, it never really felt like a complete story to me.  Deacon, however, is 100% complete and more importantly, should probably be called Ana.  As much as this book was about Deacon, it also featured one badass female solider:  Ana.  She made the book for me.  Kit Rocha can write strong females and in this book, Ana is right up there with Lex from the Beyond series.

Anyway, Deacon gave us more insight into the sector, threw me for a twist I did not see coming, was full of action and of course smut, and made me want to keep going with the series.  I don’t know how many more books are planned for this series but you can be damn sure that I’ll be waiting for them all if they are anything like this one.

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Protecting Their Mate by Moira Rogers (Volumes 1 to 3)

Blake is on a mission from his alpha–to track down a werewolf whose parents dragged her into the human world years ago, one who may be in danger. He expects the lead to go nowhere, given how few wolves live among humans, but he discovers something rare indeed, caged in a basement: a beautiful, curvy woman gripped by the fever, ready to mate.

Ashley Todd has never fit in. She’s always been too much–too big, too demanding, too aware of the wolf hiding beneath her skin. She’s been locked away for months–been alone for a lifetime–and in walks Blake to save her from her prison. Her rescuer is hard, intense–a dominant wolf whose bossy attitude makes her growl…and yearn to submit.

Soothing Ashley’s mating fever is Blake’s responsibility–and his pleasure. Their passion is explosive, undeniable. But what started out as a job for Blake quickly becomes something more, and the toughest part of his mission looms: taking Ashley back to his pack so she can choose her permanent mate from amongst his brethren.

Ashley is drawn to dominant Blake, but meeting the rest of the pack reignites her desire. She is overwhelmed by her new life and all it entails, but embracing her inner wolf means embracing the truth: if she doesn’t explore her attraction to the other members of the pack, she’ll never find her forever mate .

Protecting Their Mate was originally published as an eight part serial under the penname Mia Thorne. It has been repackaged, but the story remains the same.

If you know me, you know I love smut.  You know I love the Eden series by Kit Rocha.  So when I was offered the chance to read the paranormal series the duo wrote before Eden, I said yes please and when!  Each volume is 70 to 120 pages so I devoured them all in about hmmm 90 minutes or less?

I love Rogers portrayal of women. Being curvy and/or being sexual isn’t a bad thing and their female protagonists are always strong and badass.  Ashley was all of these things but had been abused for so long, she felt none of them.  Blake and the pack showed her the light and boy did they.  I would give each volume 4 stars and I want the rest of the pack’s stories NOW!  Volume Three set up the next story quite nicely.

Get a fan because these stories are hot with a capital HOT.

In a Perfect World by Trish Doller

Caroline Kelly is excited to be spending her summer vacation working at the local amusement park with her best friend, exploring weird Ohio with her boyfriend, and attending soccer camp with the hope she’ll be her team’s captain in the fall.

But when Caroline’s mother is hired to open an eye clinic in Cairo, Egypt, Caroline’s plans are upended. Caroline is now expected to spend her summer and her senior year in a foreign country, away from her friends, her home, and everything she’s ever known.

With this move, Caroline predicts she’ll spend her time navigating crowded streets, eating unfamiliar food, and having terrible bouts of homesickness. But when she finds instead is a culture that surprises her, a city that astounds her, and a charming, unpredictable boy who challenges everything she thought she knew about life, love, and privilege.

I appreciate when a book introduces me to a culture I know little about.  Doller takes us to Egypt and we see the world through Caroline’s eyes.  New country, new rules, completely different culture and completely alone.  What I don’t appreciate is when a book tries to do too much.  We’ve got an introduction to Egyptian culture, food and religion with a smattering of romance and terrorism.  We’ve got a book that ends entirely too quickly after the climax with a fairytale ending you can see coming the minute you start the final chapter.

What we don’t have is a story that feels complete.  When I finished the book, I was mad.  Mad that this is the world we live in, mad that the book ended the way it did, mad at what seemed to me as unnecessary plot points.  I thought about the book all day trying to put my feelings into words and all I could come up with was this was a good book with good themes that could have been a great book if it had just tried a little less hard.

Three of five stars.  Available now.  Young adult/romance/travel.

 

The Breakdown by B.A. Paris

If you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust?

Cass is having a hard time since the night she saw the car in the woods, on the winding rural road, in the middle of a downpour, with the woman sitting inside―the woman who was killed. She’s been trying to put the crime out of her mind; what could she have done, really? It’s a dangerous road to be on in the middle of a storm. Her husband would be furious if he knew she’d broken her promise not to take that shortcut home. And she probably would only have been hurt herself if she’d stopped.

But since then, she’s been forgetting every little thing: where she left the car, if she took her pills, the alarm code, why she ordered a pram when she doesn’t have a baby.

The only thing she can’t forget is that woman, the woman she might have saved, and the terrible nagging guilt.

Or the silent calls she’s receiving, or the feeling that someone’s watching her…

I devoured B.A. Paris’ first book, Behind Closed Doors.  It had everything I wanted in a thriller.  So when I saw the author’s name on a new book, I said okay I need this.  I am always apprehensive when I love a first book by a new author because I usually have high expectations of their sophomore outing.  I tried really hard to not have the expectations this time and while I managed to stay neutral, this book was underwhelming.

It was not a bad book by any means.  I gave it a solid three stars.  But there was nothing outstanding about it.  Cass, the female main character, was well-written and sympathetic.  I felt for her throughout the entire story and cheered with her ups and sat there with her during the downs wanting to give her a hug and tell her it would be okay.  I had my suspicions about the bad guy fairly early on and was not wrong.   I would still recommend the book, I just was not wowed.

I will say that Paris can write a mental breakdown like no one’s business and I will gladly pick up any book with her name on it in the future.

The Breakdown will be released on July 18, 2017 by St. Martin’s Press.  I received an advance copy through NetGalley which in no way influences my opinions about this book.

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hellish for all the slaves but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood – where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned and, though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted.

In Whitehead’s ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor – engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora and Caesar’s first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven – but the city’s placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. Even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom.

As Whitehead brilliantly re-creates the unique terrors for black people in the pre-Civil War era, his narrative seamlessly weaves the saga of America from the brutal importation of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is at once a kinetic adventure tale of one woman’s ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shattering, powerful meditation on the history we all share.

Let me start this review by telling you I had no plans to read this book.  My friend asked me nicely because it impacted her so much and I agreed.  I waited for about a month for it to come in from the library and was hesitant to start it.

Once I started, I kept thinking, ugh, I knew I shouldn’t have picked this book up.  I’m bored and disgusted and then before I knew it, I was 75% of the way through.  I finished early this morning when I woke up and couldn’t get back to sleep.  I can’t give you a star rating on this one.  I can’t even really tell you I liked it.  How do you rate a book that discusses such a dark part of our history?  How do you rate a book where you never connect with the characters but you still feel for them every step of their awful journey?  How do you rate a book that you can’t even really put into words?

This is a book that I am glad I read but will never read again.  This is a book that takes liberties with history but still taught me things.  This is a book I won’t blame you if you don’t pick up.  Most of all this is a book that makes you think.

This is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel

This is how a family keeps a secret…and how that secret ends up keeping them.

This is how a family lives happily ever after…until happily ever after becomes complicated.

This is how children change…and then change the world.

This is Claude. He’s five years old, the youngest of five brothers, and loves peanut butter sandwiches. He also loves wearing a dress, and dreams of being a princess.

When he grows up, Claude says, he wants to be a girl.

Rosie and Penn want Claude to be whoever Claude wants to be. They’re just not sure they’re ready to share that with the world. Soon the entire family is keeping Claude’s secret. Until one day it explodes.

This Is How It Always Is is a novel about revelations, transformations, fairy tales, and family. And it’s about the ways this is how it always is: Change is always hard and miraculous and hard again, parenting is always a leap into the unknown with crossed fingers and full hearts, children grow but not always according to plan. And families with secrets don’t get to keep them forever.

It is rare (but it happens) that a friend reaches out and says you have to read this book and I say I’ve never heard of it.  That’s what happened with This is How It Always Is.  My friend Tammy, who I haven’t seen in a million years but talk to almost every day is a huge book nerd like myself.  So when she told me about this one, it went on the library hold list immediately.  I waited and waited.  She got her copy, read it, loved it and I kept waiting.  Finally it came in.  I have to say I was nervous to start it (probably almost as nervous as she was for me to start it) but once I did, all bets were off.

You’ll see reviews that say it made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me think.  If you are anything like me, you’ll roll your eyes and scoff.  Much to my surprise, in this book, all of those things are true.   This family got inside my brain and my heart and they stayed there.  When the book was over, I sat in disbelief because I thought I missed something.  I thought I skipped a chapter.  It was the perfect ending and yet, I was disappointed because it was over and I wanted more and even more disappointed that there isn’t anymore.

So now I pass it to you.  Read this book.  Then I can have more and we can all be better people as a result.  5 major stars for this one my friends.  It’s going to stick with me.  Ignore my tagline this time and pick this one up.  I promise you, you won’t regret it.

No Turning Back by Tracy Buchanan

You’d kill to protect your child – wouldn’t you?

When radio presenter Anna Graves and her baby are attacked on the beach by a crazed teenager, Anna reacts instinctively to protect her daughter.

But her life falls apart when the schoolboy dies from his injuries. The police believe Anna’s story, until the autopsy results reveal something more sinister.

A frenzied media attack sends Anna into a spiral of self-doubt. Her precarious mental state is further threatened when she receives a chilling message from someone claiming to be the ‘Ophelia Killer’, responsible for a series of murders twenty years ago.

Is Anna as innocent as she claims? And is murder forgivable, if committed to save your child’s life…?

You guys.  Oh my god.  You guys.  I started this book this morning and was hooked within 3 chapters.  I kept sneaking furtive glances at my phone, trying to figure out how I could read this and get my work done without getting in trouble.  I resisted for the most part but every time I got a chance (waiting for a meeting to start, going to the bathroom (you do it too), while dinner cooked), I read.

I don’t want to say anything about anything because I don’t want to ruin anything.  All I will say is, someone read this so we can talk about it.  It was good, kept me guessing and if I say anything more, I am afraid I will ruin something.

This book was provided to me by NetGalley in exchange for a review.

 

 

A Suitable Lie by Michael Malone

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for a review.

Andy Boyd thinks he is the luckiest man alive. Widowed with a young child, after his wife dies in childbirth, he is certain that he will never again experience true love. Then he meets Anna. Feisty, fun and beautiful, she’s his perfect match, and she loves his son like he is her own. When Andy ends up in the hospital on his wedding night, he receives his first clue that Anna is not all that she seems. Desperate for that happy-ever-after, he ignores it—a dangerous mistake that could cost him everything.

A Suitable Lie takes place in Scotland and there is a bit of a vocabulary difference to this American who has been nowhere but I made it through.  It doesn’t really distract from the story, just made me wish I had a Scottish to American dictionary.  Language barriers aside, what we have in this story, is a man who fell in love, got married and realized his new wife wasn’t all she pretended to be.

It is no secret by reading the reviews that this is a story about domestic violence.  What I liked is that we have a case where the wife is the abuser and the husband is the victim.  There is a scene in the book where Andy tries to call a shelter for help and the woman on the other end of the phone thinks he is playing a cruel joke and making fun of women who need help.  That scene right there reinforced a concern I’ve had for years:  where do the men go?

I think Malone did an excellent job of capturing the despair and shame, not to mention fear, felt by victims of abuse.  What I didn’t like about the story was the secondary plot line involving Andy’s friend Malcolm.  I’m really not sure how it added to anything other than to cast doubts to Andy’s character.

It is always hard to rate an uncomfortable story but I’m going with a solid 3 stars.  It wasn’t amazing, it wasn’t awful and it brought light to a subject I think we need to talk about more.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29501958-a-suitable-lie

Bridges: A Daphne White Novel by Maria Murnane — 3.5 stars

Let me start this review with an apology to the author.  I read this book days before the actual release so I could a review out and then life happened and now here we are, 4 days post release day with no review.  Maria Murnane is an awesome woman who I have had the pleasure of talking with through a series of emails and I feel terrible that it has taken me this long to get to the review.  But better late than never I say.  On to the review!

Bridges takes place about a year after we leave Daphne and her friends in Wait for Rain.   I was glad to catch up with these women because I wanted to know more.  I finished Bridges feeling the same way.  I was disappointed in Daphne’s progress or I should say lack of progress and hope to see another book with her kicking ass like I know she wants to.

I liked seeing a different side of Skylar and the twist with KC was fun.  This book reminded me of my long ago desire to live in NYC for a year and I now need to go.  I found myself jealous of the characters for being there and especially jealous because they got to go see Hamilton.  (Seriously though, someone hook a sister up with some tickets).

I liked the book, I just wanted a little more happiness for Daphne and I felt like the ending was a set up for another book so come on Maria, give me the goods!!

I received this book from the author and the publisher through NetGalley.

 

The Sisters by Claire Douglas

One lied. One died.

When one sister dies, the other must go to desperate lengths to survive

After a tragic accident, still haunted by her twin sister’s death, Abi is making a fresh start in Bath. But when she meets siblings Bea and Ben, she is quickly drawn into their privileged and unsettling circle.

When one sister lies, she must protect her secret at all costs

As Abi tries to keep up with the demands of her fickle friends, strange things start to happen – precious letters go missing and threatening messages are left in her room. Is this the work of the beautiful and capricious Bea? Or is Abi willing to go to any lengths to get attention?

When the truth outs, will either sister survive?

I thought I was in for a creepy little story.  While it was creepy, it wasn’t for the reasons I had hoped.  I found all the characters whiny and unlikable and the story seemed to go on for much longer than 384 pages.  I enjoy a story where I keep guessing and don’t ever seem to figure out what’s going on until the very end.  In this story, I never figured out what was going on and even when my suspicions were proved correct and then incorrect, I still felt uncomfortable and almost stopped reading the book two or three times (that’s a lot for 384 pages).

I give the story 2 stars.  I didn’t hate it but I wouldn’t say oh my goodness, you HAVE to read this nor would I give it less than 2 stars.  Just an overall mediocre story that tried too hard to be like all the other “creepy you’ll never guess what’s going on” books that ultimately fall flat on their faces.