Sunday, January 22, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: Danielle Allen's NEVERMORE


Danielle Allen
Release: January 17, 2017
(Kindle Unlimited available)

I have to start this review with the deepest apologies for posting it so late. You see I received a copy of NEVERMORE from Ms. Allen to review prior to the release. I was so excited to read this story based on Edgar Allen Poe's "The Raven", one of my favorite poets. I've often credited Poe as being my first dark author. Anyway, I was to post this review a few days ago, but everytime I sat to write it, everything my heart feels just wouldn't come out correctly. I'm not entirely sure where this draft will take me, but here goes.

I LOVE THIS STORY! The originality, the uniqueness, the DIVERSITY of characters makes this the type of story we should be reading more of in this genre!

The story of JP and Raven, friends since childhood who maintained much of their relationship via text messages and Skype as they were separated in their early teens but never let go of each other. Their families, friends, and at times, people they were dating, were aware of the attraction between the two, though they never acted on it. Fear of destroying the healthiest relationship they have was a huge factor. But when the line is finally crossed, tragedy strikes Raven and she's left to not only figure out the mystery but to look deep within herself to truly understand the meaning of it all.

Danielle Allen is undauntingly dedicated to diverse characters and inclusion in her stories and she made sure to include people of varying ethnicities and religions in this story. I can't shout loudly enough how much I appreicate this. Take a look at her cover. Something almost never seen in mainstream romance today-a black woman on the cover, alone. Mindblown.

But she just absolutely blew me away and left me stunned for the past few days with the notion that Poe, dark, scary, horror writing Edgar Allen Poe, wasn't what I thought. That though there's much darkness and sorrow in "The Raven" it's based on the sorrow of losing love. Poe was a romantic! While the poem is dark, the light of love actually surrounds it. I'm in AWE! And more than that, Ms. Allen reminds the reader the light is always there, you just have to be aware.

Do I "One-Click" recommend this book? You better believe it! I can't encourage readers to download and read right now fast enough!



Tuesday, January 17, 2017

AUDIO REVIEW: Kandi Steiner's A LOVE LETTER TO WHISKEY





Kandi Steiner
Lauren Sweet: narrator
Book Release: September 25, 2016
Audio Release: November 28, 2016
(Available in Kindle Unlimited at the time of this review)

There are some times when I wonder why I put myself on-the-line in writing reviews as a blogger. I mean to review a book as a reader can sometimes mean flying anonymously, but in this forum, I'm exposed. Me and all of my prickly opinions about what makes a book a great read. It's harder when the book in question is one that has been highly recommended and dearly loved. It makes it awkward when I have to say, "oh, well, it wasn't my favorite." Yes, I've made a few rather upset with those words. So, brace yourself because, well, this wasn't my favorite. Which book am I talking about? Kandi Steiner's "A Love Letter to Whiskey".

Let me start by saying Ms. Steiner is truly a gifted storyteller. Her words flow smoothly across the page and she commands the attention of the reader through the entire story. I absolutely adore her first book, "Weightless" and highly encourage folks to read it. It's a story with characters that I believe readers can identify with, regardless of age, education, or economic status. 

But "A Love Letter to Whiskey" just falls flat for me. The story of Brecks, aka "B", and Jamie, aka “Whiskey”, is one that spans a decade. Okay, I love these stories. I love meeting the characters when they're young and learning to navigate life but develop into thoughtful adults. This was a huge element missing from ALLTW. Reactions to life at 18 and 19 are the SAME reactions B and Jamie have at 28. This is where the story fails me as a reader: Ms. Steiner started on a brilliant path but continued to loop it over and over in the story. The first conflict as teenagers seem to be the way the characters continue to react to events and situations in their lives. The only difference is they are legally able to drown their sorrows in alcohol at 28.

And then the theme of alcohol. Ms. Steiner works too hard to convince the reader that love can be viewed as an addiction and as such bad decisions are often made in its name. This was really hard for me to swallow. Addicts are in desperate fights for their lives. They are not able to control the need, hence centers for help and professionals. Love however is a choice, a feeling, and one that can be controlled and nurtured if lucky to have it. The comparison of love to alcoholism is just a bit upsetting.

I won an audio copy of "A Love Letter to Whiskey" directly from Ms. Steiner in a giveaway a few weeks ago. Lauren Sweet single narrates the story as it's told solely from Brecks' POV. Ms. Sweet is a very talented narrator, but I found her portrayal of Brecks to be whiny. I often find the narration to help give me a different perspective on characters, but Ms. Sweet's performance just left me not liking the heroine much.

So here's the big question: where does it fall on my recommendation? While it's not a "One-Click" for me, it's definitely NOT a "Risky Read". That leaves it as an "Add-TBR" recommendation. As always, read any book before judging it. And please, let me know your thoughts!

http://amzn.to/2iDMYWr

Saturday, January 14, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: Noell Mosco's THE OTHER WOMAN



THE OTHER WOMAN
Noell Mosco
Release: January 10, 2017

Insta-love...it's a troupe used in romance books for generations. It's also one of my least favorite troupes ever. Call it the cynic in me, but I just don't believe two people meet, lock eyes and instantly fall in love. I do believe that moment is "lust at first sight" and only with hard work, determination and commitment love follows. With that said, I admit when "insta" is used in stories and is well done, I'm a goner. Kate Canterbary's THE SPIRE is the most recent example of a story that uses insta-love brilliantly. I can honestly say Noell Mosco's THE OTHER WOMAN is another wonderful example of using this troupe well!

The story of Cole and Ally. A rockstar on the road, stuck in a marriage with a woman who enjoys the benefits of being a famous man's wife, but has no interest in the marriage, and an introverted woman who typically works at home, surrounded by books. The unlikely chance meeting and Ally breaking free from her walls leads to a romance that never should have happened. Considered wrong by many, but it's truly the right relationship for them.

I'm not giving anything away here when I say infidelity is in the story. The title gives that away. What I will say, and have said numerous times since my review of "Author Anonymous", is that I can understand and appreciate stories of infidelity when it's clearly defined and demonstrated that the marriage is not only in extreme crisis, but over. While the paperwork is all that's left to be filed, the love that was once is no longer and there's no hope of it returning. Ms. Mosco has done an excellent job of this.

I know infidelity can be an upsetting plot point for many readers, and that's understandable. I found this story to be more of how someone moves on when the marriage has ended. While it can be difficult for many to move on, there are those who have been trapped in an unhappy situation for so long they grab firmly onto the first chance of happiness, regardless of when that happens. Cole is that man. A good guy who really deserves a happy ever after.


Sunday, January 8, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: J.A. DeRouen's OVER DUET series





J.A. DeRouen
Released: November 10, 2016 and January 6, 2017 respectively

Ahem…is this thing on? READERS ALL OVER THE WORLD, MY NAME IS ROBYN AND I’M TELLING YOU RIGHT NOW, ONE-CLICK J.A. DEROUEN BOOKS TODAY! Okay, now that I’ve made my declaration, allow me to introduce you to J.A. DeRouen, author of the Over Duet series, LOW OVER HIGH and the newly released, EVER OVER AFTER! You can thank me later!
I’m late to the J.A. DeRouen party but quickly made my way around the room! What an incredible talent! I read LOW OVER HIGH a couple of months ago when I was still a weekly contributing blogger to Kindle Unlimited Book Reviews and planned to review the series as a whole when LOW OVER HIGH released. I know many readers prefer reading a series as a whole, so waiting to review both books seemed like the right decision. Oh how I was wrong! If ever there was a series worth waiting patiently for, and I know a few, this is definitely one! I wish now I go have a do-over so I could shout from the top of my lungs how much I love the books!

LOW OVER HIGH and EVER OVER AFTER is the story of Marlo Rivers “Lo” and Ever Montgomery, teenagers when they meet and adults with complex lives and histories when they get a second chance at love. LOW OVER HIGH introduces us to the characters, ones written with a timelessness I’ve rarely found in any story. Ms. DeRouen captures the angst, awkwardness and desperation of young adults seeking to figure life out while finding love. Any reader of any age can identify with either Lo or Ever in this quest. Marlo and Ever are beautifully developed, as is their relationship, and the consequences of hidden truths heartbreaking. EVER OVER AFTER continues Lo and Ever’s story, one that required time apart to allow them to grow and recover from the past. They’re retain their youthful desire but have to face life, presently, with so much hurt and damage between them. Second chances aren’t always easy. 

http://amzn.to/2jhRMBk

I have fallen so deeply in lust with Ms. DeRouen’s talent. After reading LOW OVER HIGH, I put it on my very small, select list of top reads of 2016. This list includes authors with such immense talent at Kate Canterbary, TM Frazier, Tiffany Reisz and Mae Wood. I’m reading her "Over" 3-book series and am NOT disappointed. A new one-click always author for me!!

http://amzn.to/2iWMKO2



Thursday, January 5, 2017

LINKS: Navigating Audio in Amazon

Navigating Audio in Amazon


There's no denying it: the love of audio books is being felt by many these days. With long work commutes, desk jobs, and other everyday chores, more people are turning to the audio format to read books. Just plug in the earbuds and go. Online retailer, Amazon.com, is making the find of great audio books easier than before! Whether you've purchased an e-copy of a great read and would like to upgrade it to audio or you're seeking a great audio book to start, Amazon has great ways of helping readers connect to audio!

Have a load of books currently on your TBR list and you'd like to find its audio companion? Head over to http://amzn.to/2iJUala and find your audio read! As you already own the book, Amazon will show if the audio can be upgraded for a nominal fee!

Are you in-between reads and desperate find a great audio book? The Kindle Books with Audible Narration will help you find any book, in any genre, that has audio available!! Check out http://amzn.to/2iNJzbI for thousands and thousands of books!

Are you new to audio altogether and a bit confused by the whole thing? Here are a few things to know:

  • A book's audio companion is not usually released at the same time as the book's release. Authors are turning more and more books into audio versions, so the selection is huge and growing!
  • Whispersync is an Amazon exclusive feature that allows a reader to switch from audio to reading, and reading to audio, without losing their place! Just be sure to bookmark your book or audio book and you'll never lose your place!
  • Not all books turned into audio are Whispersync compatible. If a book is, the Amazon page for the read will indicate it. Whispersync books can often be downloaded for a greatly reduced price IF you own the book! You can purchase the book and the audio version at the same time and receive the discount! Kindle Unlimited members can download the book in KU and are eligible for the reduced audio price if Whispersync compatible!
  • Some Kindle Unlimited books will have audio books available to download and listen to for FREE! Be sure to looks for the "read and listen for free" option!
  • Audio books are narrated in single narration (one author reads it all), dual narration (two authors who read based on the character; male narrators will read the female character as needed and vice versa), and duet narration (a relatively newer style where the female narrator will read ALL the female character moments and vice versa)
  • There is a FANTASTIC audio reader group on Facebook that keeps readers up-to-date with the latest news in romance/erotica audio books! Check out AURAL FIXATION at https://www.facebook.com/groups/auralfixationaudio/
No matter how you opt to read a book, I know you'll find great reads!

*Audible is a division of Amazon

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

AUDIO REVIEW: Stephanie Rose's FINDING ME

FINDING ME
Stephanie Rose
Release: May 21, 2016
Narrated by: Lauren Sweet
Kindle Unlimited available at time of this review



Sweet, young love, there’s nothing quite like it. The first meeting, stolen glances, soft kisses that grow passionate, building trust and the first “I love you”.  sigh I really enjoy contemporary new adult stories. The start of adult life and love are often beautifully captured in these stories. I also enjoy the confusion of feelings and angst and learning how the characters will resolve all the feelings. Stephanie Rose’s FINDING ME is a wonderful example of a well-developed new adult story.

The story of Bella and Owen, Finding Me is a standalone that sees Bella from the previous reads, Always You and Always Us, a young woman and freshman attending university. After a horrible break-up with her high school boyfriend, Bella uses her time at school to rebuild her confidence. A big part of that is Owen, a hot-shot hockey player who falls hard when he meets Bella the first time. In learning how to trust and let go of past hurts, Bella is able to open her heart to Owen and heal from some of the pain of abandonment of her first love and her biological father. 

Lauren Sweet single narrates Finding Me with such sincerity. The joys of falling in love, along with the hurt that misunderstanding and confusion can bring when you’re young and navigating the first deep relationship outside of your family. She also brings Owen’s southern accent to the front without being thick and cartoonish as seems to be the way for narrators. As a southern girl by Grace, I find it frustrating when the accent is used in a slow, silly way. Kudos to Ms. Sweet for not doing that! I also greatly appreciated that while Bella is from the Bronx, an overdone, stereotypical New York accent wasn’t on display. 

I definitely encourage readers to plug those earbuds in and give a listen!

http://amzn.to/2j8RvVp


NEWS: TYPESETTER

I'm lazy. I mean, yes I work a lot between a big girl desk job at a major university and running a small local business, but ...